The Undoing of History: Steve Paikin Interview

second year and I don’t think we excite
that love of learning to make them
always come back to become history
majors now that’s interesting you’re
looking in the mirror for part of the
explanation here so what are you either
doing or not doing that you think is
contributing to this fall off yeah I
mean I think what Chris was talking
about you know we’re losing the
education pathway we’re losing the law
pathway that’s fine but I look at arts
and say we’re losing majors more than
other arts disciplines why is that well
I think part of it is that we sometimes
we try to sell his
they come into our clusters and we try
to say come here for critical thinking
come here for writing skills come here
for your communication skills and that’s
fine but that doesn’t really get to the
core of what makes history special and
the core is to me the core is an
understanding of ambiguity and
understanding of context the ability to
take scattered isolated data points
found in an archive or a library here
and weave it together into a really
compelling story that fires up students
fires up audiences what do you when you
look in the mirror what what
responsibilities do you think the way
you teach and your professors teach
right there’s two elements to theirs
they’re the objective conditions we can
say and I’m speaking now like a story
and I guess the financial crisis
generally the the mood of especially
North America of focus on identity
politics etc and then there are the
subjective elements of what should
administration’s history departments or
even individual faculty members – I
think that this this crisis or mini
crisis could be a blessing in disguise
because it could shake us a bit and make
us really consider how we’ve been
dealing with teaching history and
attracting students there’s a number of
things I think that we can do we can I
mean I hate to use this word but in the
commercial mindset that we’re all in we
can mark it history a little bit better
we don’t know the exact figures here in
Canada the Canadian Historical
Association hasn’t done a good study on
really how well do history mate how well
do is how well do history majors do in
the in the market after they graduate
and they actually do very well very well
exceptionally well in fact they even
compete with some of these science
majors in terms of getting jobs there’s
a rather low unemployment among history
majors they tend to earn good paying
jobs and it’s an excellent critical
thinking yesterday in fact the American
Historical Association has documented
that there’s a large number of employers
of stem majors
who lament the fact that they wish their
their employees knew a bit more about
history about liberal arts etc I mean
that’s that’s one thing we can market
ourselves a bit better the other thing I
think is that we really need to take
another look at the way we teach and
that is also rather complex well let’s
get into that here chris is there
something about the way you and your
colleagues stand at the front of a class
and teach 18 19 year old young people
that’s not resonating today in a way it
might have 25 or 30 years ago so maybe I
mean I I’m 46 so I don’t know really any
more but I think that you know this
academic specialization is a problem
right we specialized we company but
especially that specialization happens
everywhere in every field I think what
matters in history is that when we
specialize we tend to assume that
students are going to are going to be
interested in the particular niches that
we’re interested in and you know that
the essence of history is what happened
when did it happen and we all want to
talk about the why and get aget argue
about it you know but students coming in
at 17 18 years old they don’t have the
what and win and we just have to focus
on what happened when did it happen and
have some confidence that the history
we’re gonna teach it matters and they
need to know this I want to follow up on
that Ian how difficult is it to engage
young people in history in the

Brewster Kahle: what I think we’re missing out there are tools for context and citation

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necessarily know about so Wikipedia is
still primarily created by Western young
male contributors they tell the story of
you know the worst knowledge from an
extremely limited and privileged
standpoint there are ridiculous gaps in
this knowledge and then skews what a my
favorite example is that there are
20,000 articles on French Wikipedia
about individual asteroids but a
language like Hausa that is spoken by 30
million people in Central Africa doesn’t
have an entry on the universe so if you
think that the the sum of all knowledge
representing Wikipedia and you look at
where it comes from and who created it
it’s ridiculously skewed and slanted
towards the demographic of the
contributors the problem with that is
not just with Wikipedia Wikipedia not
many people they know but the contents
get translated into our
d/f via a project like dbpedia they’re
then propagated to the rest of the
internet and basically every single
linked data system they used today what
is like a search engine for music or
biomedical information gets its entities
gets is like a fundamental relations
from Wikipedia so biasing by us out the
fact that is a small population of
contributors that are creating data and
information that powers the entire
ecosystem that AI relies upon I think
the fundamental problem that we all
should be worried about I’ve been very
encouraged by watching some of the
studies of how people use the web people
are very particular and very peculiar
nobody wakes up in the morning saying
hey I want to live a biased life or hey
I really want to go to the biased and
unfair news channel what I think we’re
missing out there are tools for context
and citation we’ve made it hard for
people to actually know what the hell
they’re looking at that we’ve made it so
that it’s really difficult to go and
understand is this some babble that just
has been bouncing around for a long time
and long discredited or is this um
something that actually is real and I
have trusted sources behind it
so I’m encouraged by people want to have
access to this stuff the Internet
Archive gets three four or five million
people a day coming and using its
service as best we can tell it’s about
the three hundredth most popular is is
about the first the fifth most popular
okay I’m a little envious um but it does
indicate that there’s a lot of interest
in finding deeper information than it’s
casually available so people want it
that’s the good news
now we need to build some of the tools I
would suggest for citation for context
and embed it and that’s what this whole
conference is about I’m really glad to
be here
sorry one last note on context I think
you’ve gotten to the heart of a really
really big problem which we missed out
on the entire problem of knowledge
production is about context not just
merely switching from one platform to
another but you know to take a perhaps a
banal example at a researcher who read a
paper of a lab that performed a set of
experimental conditions that requires a
context change for if you are working on
a different organism if even if you’re
trying to validate and reproduce those
results that is a context change which
requires translations so big new big
problem we should definitely work on
this I think with that we will wrap it
up and just want to say thanks to the
panelists and for coming up here and

The greatest album covers of jazz

Blue Note captured the refined sophistication of jazz during the early 60s, giving it its signature look in the process.

yeah that is dynamite. One of the things
that amazed me was what I call the
pullback effect. Take Hank Mobley’s no
room for squares. There was a new subway
station that was built. It was unlike any
other subway stop. It had these metal
concentric circles. Now try to find the
final album cover there. It is the
pullback shows you the whole image and
it gives you an insight into the eye of
the designer that I think is absolutely

The Rise of the Amnesty Thugs

Franco was an unauthorized immigrant who had been working in this country for over a decade. His wife, Anne, is from a Pennsylvania Dutch family that has been in this country for generations. They were married in 2013 and have three American children, Max, Javier and Valentina.

In the spring of 2017, Franco got in a minor traffic accident near his Pennsylvania home. A few weeks later as he was leaving for work, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement swarmed him, took him away and deported him to Guatemala.

.. This is an example of ICE going after a perfectly productive member of society. I got the anecdote from a series of reports that Deborah Sontag and Dale Russakoff did for ProPublica and The Philadelphia Inquirer. They found that 64 percent of the immigrants arrested by ICE in the agency’s Philadelphia region had no prior criminal conviction.

.. There are 11 million unauthorized immigrants in this country. Every past administration has used some discretion in targeting whom to deport. They targeted those who were destroying society, not building it. They tried to take account of particular contexts, and they tried to show some sense of basic humanity.

.. today, discretion and humanity are being stamped out. The Trump administration has embraced a “zero tolerance” policy. In practice that means that all complexity has to be reduced to uniformity. Compassion is replaced by a blind obedience to regulations. Context is irrelevant. Arrests are indiscriminate. All that matters is that the arrest numbers go up, so human beings in the system are reduced to numbers.

.. The Trump administration immigration officials have become exactly the kind of monsters that conservatism has always warned against.

For centuries, conservatives have repeated a specific critique against state power. Statism, conservatives have argued, has a tendency to become brutalist and inhumane because a bureaucracy can’t see or account for the complexity of reality.

.. Statist social engineering projects cause horrific suffering because in the mind of statists, the abstract rule is more important than the human being in front of them. The person must be crushed for the sake of the abstraction.

.. People like Stephen Miller are not steeped in conservative thinking and do not operate with a conservative disposition. They were formed by their rebellion against the stifling conformity they found at liberal universities. Their primary orientation is not to conservative governance but to owning the libs. In power they take the worst excesses of statism and flip them for anti-liberal ends
.. Here’s how you can detect the anti-liberal trolls in the immigration debate: Watch how they use the word “amnesty.”
.. Any serious reform has to grapple with tangled realities, and any real conservative has an appreciation for that complexity. But if you try to account for that complexity before an anti-immigration troll, he or she will shout one word: Amnesty!
.. This is what George Orwell noticed about the authoritarian brutalists: They don’t use words to illuminate the complexity of reality; they use words to eradicate the complexity of reality.
.. Look at how the Republican candidates for the G.O.P. Senate nomination in Arizona answered questions about a provision to keep families together at the border. They responded with inhumane abstractions: “I try not to get swayed by what the emotions are or the pressure
.. “Compromising on the rule of law to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants is the wrong path to take,”
.. “Amnesty” has become a club the trolls use in their attempt to stamp a rigid steel boot on the neck of the immigration debate. It’s the sign of a party slowly losing its humanity.