B. F. Skinner: The Most Important Theorist of the 21st Century ¶Audrey Watters: > Design matters. Engineering matters. But so too does the context and the practices around technology. Culture matters. All of these systems and practices have a history. (That’s one of the key takeaways for you, if you’re taking notes.) > > Why does the cursor blink, for example? How does the blink direct and shape our attention? How is the writing we do – and even the thinking we do – different on a computer than on paper, in part because of blinks and nudges and notifications? (Is it?) How is the writing we do on a computer shaped by the writing we once did on typewriters? How is the testing we take, even when on paper, designed with machines in mind? Audrey has been working on a book, Teaching Machines, and gave this talk last month in Florida. I won't try to summarize the whole talk here, because I think you should just go read her transcript. I'll just whet your appetite with a couple more selections. On B. F. Skinner's influence (over Seymour Papert's): > I maintain, even in the face of all the learn-to-code brouhaha that multiple choice tests have triumphed over democratically-oriented inquiry. Indeed, clicking on things these days seems to increasingly be redefined as a kind of “active” or “personalized” learning. And just for fun: > “The most important thing I can do,” Skinner famously said, “is to develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us,” adding that he intended to develop “the social infrastructure for community – for supporting us, for keeping us safe, for informing us, for civic engagement, and for inclusion of all.” > > Oh wait. That wasn’t B. F. Skinner. That was Mark Zuckerberg. My bad. See? I told you—go read.
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