"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Apr 5, 2011


What is it with liberals?

I know that's an overbroad question which a body can answer in a thousand contradictory ways and still be right, but...

...specifically, what's wrong with the liberal type, that in promoting a new project or savethechildreny venture, they so often glom onto corporate speak?

"...Software is moving to the cloud and so is school. Cloud-based computing makes applications available anywhere, anytime, across multiple devices. Software-as-a-service allows us to tailor what we use and how much we buy -- take your pick of five versions of Turbo Tax depending on your needs; build your own playlist of music; build your own virtual desktop with your favorite browser, email client, and applications.

I wrote about this last week too and it wasn't a very popular idea with some readers. I still think School-as-a-Service (SaaS) is an important metaphor for the future of customized learning and am certain that it will work better for students and teachers. We ask teachers to differentiate learning and then give them big classes. The shift to personal digital learning will soon customize learning as much as the rest of our lives. 

Here are 10 dimensions of School-as-a-Service:

1. SaaS has a digital backbone rather than print backbone; it's a unique student identifier more than a book bag; it's an IP address more than a seat on a chart. 

2. SaaS is student-centered rather than teacher centered; learning is customized for every student -- a playlist/project-list of their own -- rather than experiencing whole group age-cohort instruction (large group experiences and seminars may be part of SaaS but they aren't predominant). 

3. SaaS is competency-based rather than time based; progress is marked in small and flexible chunks (e.g., merit badges) measured by multiple assessments many of which are embedded within the learning experiences. 

4. SaaS is dynamic scheduling rather than master scheduling; there is a new and flexible day schedule every day rather than a 90 day course schedule.

5. SaaS has a free or inexpensive foundation of open instructional experiences but can be enriched with premium games, simulations, and other curated collections and sequences. The same can be said for tools -- a foundation of pretty good open tools augmented by premium applications -- all purchased and downloaded and customized online. 

6. SaaS is team based staffing with some local and some remote staff. About the time the bureaucrats are about ready to nail down new value-added evaluation systems based on annual standardized assessments, differentiated/distributed staffing and progress based on performance makes much of that obsolete.

7. SaaS isn't bound by a place but it may be take up temporary residence ranging from a day a week check-in to extended day/year with full wrap around services. 

8. SaaS isn't going to get too hung up on a particular access strategy because it is mobile and works across multiple devices. Many students will look at least three screens during day: a big screen, a mobile screen, and a screen linked to a full keyboard. 

9. SaaS works best with weighted funding with a portable wallet that facilitates acquisition of specialty services (e.g., speech therapy, reading specialist, math tutoring). 

10. SaaS is best situated in case management services for guidance, transcript management, integration and application opportunities, connection to community services, and extracurricular activities...


"The RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT ("RtoP" or "R2P") is a new international security and human rights norm to address the international community’s failure to prevent and stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

INTERNATIONAL COALITION FOR THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT(ICRtoP) brings together NGOs from all regions of the world to strengthen normative consensus for RtoP, further the understanding of the norm, push for strengthened capacities to prevent and halt genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and mobilize NGOs to push for action to save lives in RtoP country-specific situations."

SaaS. R2P.

Fucking NAFTA.

Why is it that when a liberal wants to sell the hoi polloi on a policy or program which will almost certainly fuck up their kids and make a bunch of self-satisfied liberals gobs o' money, he or she glibs up the language with acronymic junk?*

Is it that these liberals are constitutionally incapable of admitting that they're as predatory and uberclass in their motives as their more forthright conservative competitors? Is this an attempt to distance themselves with words? Do they believe this pap?

Or is that almost every liberal you're going to meet is a product of a corporatist, Hamiltonian, managerial meritocracy? Is it that they really don't know better?

I personally have little use for traditionalists and conservatives, or for the various schools of Hegelian economic hermeticism, but from time to time I get of whiff of embarrassment from those quarters. It positively wafts upward and out, unconstrained and uncontainable. It's like they're capable of coming to the realization that they're fiddling with words about words in a sad, self belittling effort to come to terms with impotence and the meanness of existence, with the failure of history to comply with physics, and worse yet, to conform to their alchemies of synthesis and antithesis - and have enough capacity for shame to blush in public.

But technocratic liberals?

There's no fucking hope for them. And I intend that play on words...

* - the Saas guy actually gets worse, as the article continues:

"...I've written frequently about emerging learning platform ecosystems: digital content libraries on a widget rich social layer with a smart recommendation engine and aligned student, teacher, and school services. SaaS is really an extension of a next gen platform. The metaphor attempts to move a step further from teacher- and print-centric, classroom-based learning to a set of customized learning services that are flexible in time and location.

The big state and national online learning providers are SaaS -- at least a first gen version featuring mostly flat and sequential content and bounded by a set of restrictive policies.

Choice to the course, as just enacted in Utah by SB65, is a step in this direction. But SaaS will take some energy and investment by lead providers (i.e., the folks that take student outcome 
responsibility and manage the transcript) to stitch together into a coherent service offering. Most providers (including school districts, charter school networks, and state virtual schools) will want to join an ecosystem rather than attempting to build their own. Broadband providers will need to be part of the solution by ensuring affordable access to every home..." 

I think I've translated it properly, as:  "We've got profitable software which you will have to license or lease, and which is managed by mega-corporations on proprietary servers, and we're going to extract oodles of rent from strapped municipalities and schools with it, but whoa dude, that's like wicked gauche to say in public..."


Anonymous said...

Right now I'm involved with two different charities, one a very small local one and the other a large international one both of which fund (modestly) a small adult literacy/english as a second language program. The corporate goobledy-gook which the administrators must speak in order to communicate with their funding sources is astonishing. Programs must be "stand alone" and "entrepreneurial." They are "profit centers" which must support themselves and these are charities! Recently the administrators have required fingerprinting and criminal background checks ostensibly to insure that there are no pedophiles amongst us -- and this is for a program that teaches only adults. The people involved are well meaning and want to improve their own lives by making the world a little bit better and they are subjected to degrading treatment at the hands of the corporate funders. I cannot bear to think about these behaviors and the complicity they engender without wanting to shout "fuck you" and slamming a door on the way out. Liberal capitalism has suffused the environment to the point that no one even notices its presence. So, yeah.


Jack Crow said...


Mi madre works for a charity. She also writes the grant applications. And while my mother and I agree on next to nothing, we came to a moment of peaceful accord discussing the ridiculous language she had to use in order to beg for cash from corporate providers.

It is, as you note, pervasive. "Suffused" describes it well.

senecal said...

I see where your interest in language came from this morning.

Techno-speak is chic the same way technology is. In this huge alienated miasma we live in technology offers the hope of individual freedom and it's promoted that way. Somehow virtual reality is seen as maybe better than real reality. I dont know how old your kids are, but the time will come when they'll prefer to interact with a little hand device than toss a football with you.

Jack Crow said...


Perhaps. But, they're already both in double digits, and neither has one.

Nor do either of their parents. We don't ask them for behavior we won't first demonstrate.

(Not that we've ever tossed footballs. The oldest and I run together, still. When we get into stride, it will be 5-7 miles a day. The younger boy prefers to draw, write stories and fix mechanical things with his mother.)

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Techno-speak is chic the same way technology is.

The mantras of modernism, the koans of computerworld(imagine "Kraftwerk" link here). Establishment types of all stripes have a need to sound current, "with it", so they latch onto jargon, try to co-opt popular culture. The "liberal" spouting technobabble is the flip-side of the "conservative" desparately trying to make a case that a particular rock-song is "conservative". Both are desparately trying to claim the mantle of relevance.

Jack Crow said...


Sometimes I think it's more than that. I don't want to dismiss the idea that the two broad factions of the American ruling class are constantly looking to update their relevance, as a way of softening the interface with the client populations. They are. Their various factions are in constant conflict, and fluid in membership, but the form of power is demonstrably stable. As the client population changes - especially ones which are constantly compelled to do so by market and spectacle - the interface must be constantly updated.

But, I wonder if what's more integral to that mode of life is an educated desire to feel ego as command.

For all that schools have been Taylorized, the top tiers are still reserved for special persons, for sanctioned individuality, for people who Stand Out.

The schools spend twelve years, at a minimum, ranking and grading children into tiers which somewhat overlap with the political and commercial hierarchies for which those schools prepare children.

Those same schools produce the mangers, bright lights and leaders who will inhabit the various offices and positions within the social hierarchies by which the rest of us are ruled.

And that education, specifically speaking to the leadership cultivated, is a continuous, unrelenting shaping of ego-as-controller.

Or something like that.

senecal said...

Hey, it's not so complicated. We're in the era of symbol manipulation (not products but exchanges, arbitrage, ROE); those who are good at it get to the top. Anyone anywhere in the system believes intuitively that command of symbols is power and familiarity with them a sign of power. Just like knowing what movies are in, what restaurants, what brand of vodka.

Jack Crow said...

Symbols don't get oil out of the ground.

juan said...

Rarely mentioned 1976 Guatemalan 'quake killed over 23,000, displaced hundreds of thousands in country the size of Ohio.

'NGO' types, unable to speak with indigenous community leaders spoke instead with ladino assistants, so altered inter and intra-village power relations - effected the 78~84 wave of military/paramilitary terror, made EGP organizing/fighting more difficult, facilitated creation of govt sponsored 'anti-insurgent' individuals.

Quite a bit of physical aid was expropriated by military and sold to those requiring it.

One embassy report went into great detail - author was released, report 'buried'.

Hopefully there has been improvement although perhaps too many NGOs today.

Jack Crow said...

I doubt an improvement, juan. They seem mostly useful idiots.

David K Wayne said...

Whenever technocratic liberals come to mind, I can't avoid the image of Robert Macnamara.

Jack Crow said...

Fucking Game Theorists, Wayne.