söndag 14 september 2014

Articles I've read (May)

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Below are articles I read earlier this year, in May, on my sabbatical at UC IrvineHere is my previous blog post about the articles that I read in April.

This month's catch represents a grab bag of articles on different topics. I read and reviewed quite a few conference submissions (most of them not that great), see the previous blog post on how I will treat conference papers I have reviewed. Even though I read these articles four months ago, I'm actually catching up with writing blog posts about read articles since I'm so busy with teaching right now that I don't have the time to read any articles at all at the moment (except course-related stuff).

Each asterisk before the name of an article implies that there is a quote from that article further down in this blog post!


Batch/week 1 - mixed papers, mostly reviews of conference submissions
Comment: The first two papers are written by people I met at UCI, the rest are NordiCHI 2014 conference submissions. All but one out of these five papers were rejected.
    • Tomlinson, B. (2008). A call for pro-environmental conspicuous consumption in the online world. Interactions, 15(6), 42-45. */ A short paper with a powerful idea. If people (as social animals) crave status, how can we satisfy that craving without using a lot of resources (like buying a BMW)? "Perhaps we can look to biology for inspiration once again and design systems that satisfy our evolved needs." "If people are going to engage in conspicuous consumption, they may as well do it in a way that is sustainable. We need online social tools that can help enable pro-enviornmental conspicuous consumption." /*
    • Boellstorff, T. (2013). Making big data, in theory. First Monday, 18(10). */ I went to the workshop Tom organised about Big Data and felt the urge to read a text of his. This article is an anthropologist's attempt to twist and turn big data around and regard it from several different angles. /*
    • van Turnhout et. al. (2014). Design patterns for mixed-method research in HCI. Paper reviewed for (and accepted to) the NordiCHI 2014 conference. */ Impressive paper that "describe common mixed-method approaches, and ... identify good practices for mixed-methods research in HCI. ... we aim to lay a foundation for a more thoughtful application of and a stronger discourse about mixed-method approaches in HCI." /*
    • Paper reviewed to the NordiCHI 2014 conference (rejected). Keyword: "Craft".
    • Paper reviewed to the NordiCHI 2014 conference (rejected). Keyword: "Personalization".
    • Paper reviewed to the NordiCHI 2014 conference (rejected). Keyword: "Game design".
    • Paper reviewed to the NordiCHI 2014 conference (rejected). Keyword: "Gamification".



      Batch/week 2 - mixed papers, mostly reviews of conference submissions
      Comment: The first two papers are again written by people I met at UCI, the rest are CSCW 2015 conference submissions. I don't yet know which of these papers were accepted or rejected and I might at a later point update the reference to any paper(s) that were accepted.
        • Silberman et. al. Next Steps for Sustainable HCI */ "This paper, written by the 26 attendees and organizers of the CHI 2014 sustainability workshop ... reports an emerging consensus on next steps for sustainability research in HCI ... based on lessons learned over the last seven years." I don't know if I will be an author in the end, I didn't do much and Six might have assigned most of the 26 to the role of "signatories" rather than co-authors. /*
        • Draft (unpublished) paper by an acquaintance, ”Sustainability begins in the streets”. Keyword: ”Transition Towns” */ Draft paper by a ph.d. student. I hope it gets finished and published soon! /*
        • Paper reviewed to the CSCW 2015 conference (status unknown). Keyword: "Open source software".
        • Paper reviewed to the CSCW 2015 conference (status unknown). Keyword: "Eco-feedback".
        • Paper reviewed to the CSCW 2015 conference (status unknown). Keyword: "Virtual worlds".


        Batch/week 3 - mixed papers
        Comment: My co-author Elina Eriksson told me to read the first two papers (we refer to them in our own paper).
          • ** Sterling, S. (2004). Higher education, sustainability, and the role of systemic learning. In Higher education and the challenge of sustainability (pp. 49-70). Springer Netherlands. */ Great article on the (huge) challenge of transforming higher education so as to take sustainability seriously. "The possibility of reorientation of higher education in the context of sustainability depends on widespread and deep learning with the higher education community and by policy makers - and this has to both precede and accompany matching change in learning provision and practice." Universities teach, but how good are they at learning? /*
          • * Wals, A. E., & Jickling, B. (2002). “Sustainability” in higher education: From doublethink and newspeak to critical thinking and meaningful learning. Higher Education Policy, 15(2), 121-131. */ I for the most part did not agree with the concept of sustainability that was presented in this article (or rather, the attack on sustainability that was presented in this article). "the idea of sustainability is conceptually flawed. Literally it means to keep going continuously. Yet, it provides no inherent clues about how one should mediate between contesting claims between advocates of incompatible value systems. ... education for sustainability ... conflicts with ideas of emancipation, local knowledge, democracy and self-determination. I think this is a "straw man" argument"/*
          • * Lillemo, S. C. (2014). Measuring the effect of procrastination and environmental awareness on households' energy-saving behaviours: An empirical approach. Energy Policy, 66, 249-256. */ An article that treats two very disparate topics that I'm interested in; energy and procrastination! "people who state that they have a higher tendency to procrastinate are significantly less likely to have engaged in most of the heating energy-saving activities ... measures aimed at reducing procrastination are needed to realise energy-saving potential. It is important to either bring future benefits closer to the present or to magnify the costs of delayed action." /*
          • **** Alvesson, M., & Spicer, A. (2012). A StupidityBased Theory of Organizations. Journal of management studies, 49(7), 1194-1220. */ This article is awesome! I have always thought that the praise of corporate "intelligence" is fishy - since my own experiences (not the leaste as a customer) often hints and oceans of stupidity at play. With this article, I finally get the confirmation that knowledge oftentimes is countered by equal amounts of stupidity in organisations. I highly recommend this article! /*

          ---------- QUOTES ----------

          ----- On sustainability as a add-on to the curriculum or as something more -----

          "sustainability does not simply require and 'add-on' to existing structures and curricula ... sustainability is not just another issue to be added to an overcrowded curriculum, but a gateway to a different view of curricula, of pedagogy, of organisational change, of policy and particularly of ethos.
          ...
          The common perception is often that little more than a change in teaching or curriculum is necessary - that is, an adaptive adjustment in learning provision. A full response, however, commensurate with the size of the challenge, implies a change of educational *paradigm* - because sustainability indicates a change of cultural paradigm which is both emergent and imperative."
          Sterling, S. (2004). 
          Higher education, sustainability, and the role of systemic learning



          ----- On more education as the solution or as part of the problem? -----

          "the answer to the crisis of unsustainability cannot be a simple tweaking of educational policy and practice ... This is an issue that E.F. Schumacher ... pondered nearly thirty years ago:

          'the volume of education has increased and continues to increase, yet so do pollution, exhaustion of resources, and the dangers of ecological catastrophe. If still more education is to save us, it would have to be education of a different kind'
          ...
          All this leaves us with a profound paradox: the agency that is charged with the provision of education and learning ... is largely part of the unsustainability problem it needs to address. The fundamental challenge then, is how to achieve significant rather than superficial orientation of higher education."
          Sterling, S. (2004). 
          Higher education, sustainability, and the role of systemic learning, p.52-54



          ----- On "eco-totaliarian" vs "eco-emancipatory" regimes and ecological vs social sustainability -----

          "If we juxtapose more instrumental views of "education for sustainability" with more emancipatory views of "education for sustainability" we can imagine, on the one hand, and "eco-totalitarian" regime that through law and order, rewards and punishment, and conditioning of behavior can create a society that is quite sustainable according to some more ecological criteria. Of course, we can wonder whether the people living within such an "eco-totalitarian" regime are happy or whether their regime is just, but they do live "sustainably" and so will their children. We might also wonder if this is the only, or best conceptualization of sustainability. On the emancipatory end of the continuum we can imagine a very transparent society, with action competent citizens, who actively and critically participate in problem solving and decision making, and value and respect alternative ways of thinking, valuing and doing. This society may not be so sustainable for a strictly ecological point of view as represented by the eco-totalitarian society, but the people might be happier, and ultimately capable of better responding to emerging environmental issues."
          Wals, A. E., & Jickling, B. (2002)
          “Sustainability” in higher education: From doublethink 
          and newspeak to critical thinking and meaningful learning, p.225




          ----- Fight procrastination and make the world a better place! -----

          "procrastination might work against the capacity to execute environmentally friendly behaviours. ... procrastination could be one of the more important barriers in fighting climate change at either a policy level or in people's daily practices. Environmental issues such as climate change are often concerned with future costs or benefits. If people put too much weight on the present moment, it will make the benefits from environmentally friendly behaviour look small from today's perspective.
          ...
          the government not only needs to motivate people to save energy, but it also needs to help people follow up on or execute their saving plans. In particular, the measures aimed at increasing households' investments in energy savings should focus on reducing procrastination rather than increasing environmental awareness.
          Lillemo, S. C. (2013). 
          Measuring the effect of procrastination and environmental awareness on 
          households' energy-saving behaviours: An empirical approach. p.253-254




          ----- Do YOU work in a functionally stupid organization? -----

          "In this paper we question the one-sided thesis that contemporary organizations rely on the mobilization of cognitive capacities. We suggest that severe restriction on these capacities in the form of what we call functional stupidity are an equally important if under-recognised part of organizational life. Functional stupidity refers to an absence of reflexivity, a refusal to use intellectual capacities in other than myopic ways, and avoidance of justification. ... This gives rise to forms of stupidity management the repress or marginalize doubt and block communicative action. ... This can have productive outcomes such a providing a degree of certainty for individuals and organizations ... The positive consequences can give rise to self-reinforcing stupidity. The negative consequences can start dialogue, which may undermine functional stupidity.
          Alvesson, M., & Spicer, A. (2012). 
          A StupidityBased Theory of Organizations




          ----- On intelligence and stupidity in organizational life -----
          "Researchers take it for granted that 'the foundation of industrial economies has shifted from natural resources to intellectual assets'. ... Underpinning all this is the assumption that the intelligent mobilization of cognitive capacities is central to the operation of (successful) organizations. ... It creates a one-sided, widely-shared, and rather grandiose portrait of the smart, knowledge-based firm and its employees. This picture ... misses ... qualities that do not easily fit with the idea of smartness.
          ...
          Stupidity resonates with many anecdotal accounts of organizational life. ... we find intelligent and knowledgeable people actively refraining from using their cognitive and reflexive capacity. ... in many cases, stupidity is a normal feature of organizational life. ... most managerial practices are adopted on the basis of faulty reasoning, accepted wisdom, and complete lack of evidence. This is also emphasized in studies of management fashion. ... [this] invites the suspicion that ... stupidity needs to be taken seriously, as part of organizational life.
          ...
          Taking these ideas further, we can view what we refer to as *functional stupidity* as being characterized by an unwillingness or inability to mobilize three aspects of cognitive capacity: reflexivity, justification, and substantive reasoning.

          Alvesson, M., & Spicer, A. (2012). 
          A StupidityBased Theory of Organizations, p.1195-1199




          ----- On manipulation and stupidity management in organizations -----

          "functional stupidity is prompted by the contemporary *economy of persuasion* which emphasizes symbolic rather than substantive aspects of organizational life ... often in the form of attempts to develop strong corporate cultures and identities, corporate branding, and charismatic leadership, exercised often through *stupidity management*.
          ...
          *stupidity self-management* ... helps ... marginalize doubt and focus on more positive and coherent understandings of reality. Ambiguities are repressed and ... This can give rise to a false sense of *certainty* that produces *functionality* for both the organization as a whole and the individuals within it. Such positive outcomes can have self-reinforcing effects byt further encouraging *stupidity management* and *self-studpidity management*.
          ...
          Employee-focused campaigns indicated appropriate feelings, convictions, and identities. They can take the form of corporate culture initiatives, branding programmes, organisational identity building, efforts to infuse spirituality into the workplace, linking work to the pursuit of social good, a focus on exciting activities, such as leadership, rather than mundane administration, and use of increasingly hollow status markers such as pretentious titels, impressive policies that are decopule from practice, and other grandiose representations. While the precise content of these programmes may differ, they are all efforts to persuade and seduce employees into believing in something that improves the image of their organizations, their work and, ultimately, themselves.
          Alvesson, M., & Spicer, A. (2012). 
          A StupidityBased Theory of Organizations, p.1202-1203




          ----- On academia as a hothouse for functional stupidity -----

          "We see functional stupidity as a general condition that pervades many spheres of social life, including academia. Contemporary academia could be seen as a hothouse for functional stupidity. In academia, huge amounts of time and energy are expended on writing papers for publication in top ranked journals, in our bid to ’play the game’. These papers may be read or used by very few, and mainly by those eager to pad out the reference lists attached to their own papers. Rarely is there any serious discourse around the meaningfulness of this enterprise. … Perhaps this is because publication … are also seen as an expression of our intelligence and knowledge. The result of an article being accepted for publication … ’proves’ how smart we are.
          ...
          This can make researchers into willing journal paper technicians who focus on writing papers for leading journals within a narrow subfield. This may detract from broader scholarship with slower and less predictable results and, perhaps, with a greeter likelihood of saying something really interesting and/or socially useful."
          Alvesson, M., & Spicer, A. (2012). 
          A StupidityBased Theory of Organizations
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