The playing fields are too waterlogged for practice, so instead of heading out this morning, I’m having a cup of tea and taking a few minutes to write. Last weekend was so cold, and although the temperatures have gradually risen through the week, it has meant more rain. An up and down week.
A better week, and I feel like I’m a bit more organized. Thank you to a few of you who provided some much-needed productivity tips. I used the AI to assign completion dates and allocate time for some of the tasks that I need to do, and it was satisfying to tick some of the checkboxes.
A sign of things getting better is that we’re publishing on a Sunday rather than Tuesday of last week.
Spaces to Connect
MLA is providing guidance on how to cite the use of generative AI, including ChatGPT. I think that’s the way to go. Rather than ban it, treat AI like any other source. The conversations we’re having now feel similar to those we had about Wikipedia. We all know how fallible wikis can be, how pages can be hijacked, and often there are gaps, gaping holes, often where philosophies, histories, and cultures are missing. We know that the large language models that the AI is trained with center western culture, the English language, white experiences, and perspectives, so there will be bias. As we write, our work will be fed back into the AI, so we have to ensure that we include all these things that are left out and that these are recognized and affirmed. Yes, you can be a good ally as you interact with AI.
Of course, AI collaboration will be more common; students will learn how to edit the chat responses and build off them. Personally, it is too hit or miss, the AI offers content that is too generic for my needs, and that’s why it is a time-sink, the equivalent of spending more time searching streaming services than watching the content they provide. I've found that what it creates is often cliche or repeated forms of misapprehension. Certainly, there's no nuance, it is a dumb echo, but that's where the students can come in, build on what the AI has written, fact-check, contextualize and turn the chat response into something much richer and more interesting.
I haven’t mentioned politics for a few weeks, but watching the CEO of TikTok being grilled by Congress was the most disheartening and depressing thing I’ve seen in a long time. Rep Dan Crenshaw opened proceedings by claiming that users “think politicians are old and out of touch,” which for the next four hours seemed to be absolutely true, as a series of Meta and Google shareholders, masquerading as law-makers asked a series of ridiculous questions, while not giving Shou Chew no time to answer.
I’m sure you know all about it; most of this content is hilarious, deranged, insane, and riddled with falsehoods and misconceptions, not about whether the Chinese government can access user data but about the basic uses of phone technology! We still don’t know what will happen, and there’s still the possibility that TikTok will be removed from app stores in the US, in which case we’re all going to need to be handy with a VPN so that we can download it from other countries.
America has to sort out political financing, corruption is brazen, and lobbyists are just throwing money at politicians to get them to vote and speak for their interests. Almost all those questioning the TikTok CEO have stock in tech companies and stand to make potentially millions if things go their way. There’s a basic conflict of interest here that we see repeatedly.
While we were having fun at the expense of those politicians, more pressing questions were being put to Norfolk Southern's CEO about the catastrophic rail disaster that his company caused in Ohio. At least Bernie Sanders was there, asking executives about the 10 billion dollars in stock buybacks while rail workers weren’t even provided sick pay.
Lost and Found
Anthropology is a problematic term for those of us who make documentaries because it is a field that has often “observed and documented global cultures from a white, Euro-American perspective (and) played into and reinforced racist and colonial stereotypes,” according to the intro for this selection of films from the RAI Film Festival. These pieces have been chosen because they explore aspects of representation through more sensitive and critical means. You can get a festival pass here to watch the movies.
This article in Design Observer reviews two more film festivals, Sundance and Slamdance. There’s an emphasis on the built environment, with an exciting mix of short experimental movies that challenge our perceptions of manmade and natural worlds.
There were a few mentions on the socials of this old Kenzo World video that I’ve never seen, directed by Spike Jonze. It is very similar to the Christopher Walken starring video for Weapon of Choice, but two things really stick out, Margaret Qualley’s performance and that mirrored staircase. Ask yourself, where’s the camera?
Okay, it is a sunny morning now that I’m finishing up; it has taken me this long to finish this issue.
We have our first pre-season soccer (footy) scrimmage of the year, and once again, I am being asked to steer our young team through the emotional highs and lows of a season. If you remember, in the Fall, we finished second in the league, W-5, L-2, D-1, which I think you’ll agree was a pretty good return. U12 is a tricky age, and there’s still a great deal of immaturity. Some players struggle mentally if we’re losing, and they still think they are the center of things. I’m afraid we’re not quite a team, but we’ll see what we can do.
I hope that you’re all doing well in your different corners of the world. That you’re managing to get by. I hope you’re finding time to do a few things for yourself, whether at work or home, and that everything you have to do in life isn’t overwhelming. We’re busy people, and sometimes, you’ve got to ask if it’s the tail wagging the dog rather than the other way around.
Take care of yourselves. Go for a walk outside. Meditate occasionally. It really does help you feel a bit more like yourself.
See you next week.
I've been researching and looking into large language models too. I think it's a great tool that, if used appropriately, can improve the productivity of students and teachers by a lot. Recently, I've been using GPT and the New Bing to learn new concepts and connecting the dots between these concepts and what I already knew. If being mindful and practicing critical thinking, I think they can help you quickly get started in researching ideas and diving deeper. The way that people ask questions could be a great differentiator in the quality of the responses and thus the quality of work produced with the help of those AIs - if a student takes the first response from the AI and blindly trusts it without any fact-checking or digging deeper, the resulting work can be disastrous and filled with hallucinations and false statements; but if a student asks follow up questions and brings up their own perspectives to compare with what's given by the AI, the depth of thinking could be greatly improved.