The Coders Are the New Normal — Putting Digital Handcuffs on Us All

Accountable only to the bottom-line of profitability, corporate culture and its growing influence in American life has signaled a radical shift in both the notion of public culture and what constitutes the meaning of citizenship and the defense of the public good.  – Henry Giroux

I will intersperse a few things here among the rabble that is the coming of the new age of Consumopithecus Anthropocene, turning into Retailopithecus and eventually Virtualnothing Erectus. All these quick evolutionary spurts are brought to us by the new global adage – if it isn’t broken, then fix-it . . . or, break it if it’s not broken . . . or, if it’s for, by and because of the people, then PRIVATIZE it.

Amazing how quickly the hollowing out of America and other countries is taking place. Like the under-reported thaw in the Arctic – tundra, permafrost, warming up in the middle. A methane rain we’ll never get over.

This is a time of the wild west Coder. All these Georgia Tech and College X-Y-Z grads coming into those silicon hubs from blipping coast to blipping coast, looking to be the new movers and shakers of the world. Coders. Working for the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Spy Agency Flavor of the Day, HRs galore, Homeland Security, Business X-Y-Z, All Departments Looking for Security and Data Mining. Coders work for the highest bidder.

Their conscience is their wallet and stock portfolio, and some lofty gigabyte cloned ethos that says, as do most Americans, Westerners, that “if it’s out there, why not be the first to get it. As in, well, all that goo and gas and hydrocarbon pockets. Rain forests. China’s after it, so is India. Russia, too, and those Euros, don’t let their green veneer fool you. They too are after it. So, why not just be the first?”

It’s in America’s interest. Why not get at it and cut it out and use it up FIRST?

So we have the “it’s not broken, and maybe we could improve it, but, hell, let’s get in on the gold rush of privatization. We have the entire population fooled, in fear and frantic about jobs and credit ratings and being pushed out of the job market entirely, that they will accept almost anything.”

Public Utilities? Public Health. Public Schools. Public Land. Public Good? Public Capital. Public Infrastructure.

We have no need to go on with those silly ideas. Open access education for all? What a waste of valuable profit-getting possibilities!

The innate feature of the university is that not only does it examine, it also produces power-laden and value-ridden discourse. …In any case, it becomes incumbent upon us as citizens/scholars in the university to accept the consequences of our own value-redolent roles. Like it or not, we are paradigms of our own values, advertisements of our own ethics-especially noticeable when we presume to foster ethics-free, value-lite education….What are we personally willing to sacrifice, give up for the ‘public good’? What gestures of reparations are we personally willing to make? What risky, unfashionable research are we willing to undertake?
—Toni Morrison

So, the last vestiges of agency, awareness, awakeness, and anarchy are being stripped now as we converse here. Education from top to bottom is being filled with empty corporate training corps crap to deskill and denude the American male and female. Turning them into consumers. Fearful and loathing of government and public workers. The new Me is the Big Them. Americans are now being bamboozled into thinking the One Percent Have It Anyway, So, We Might as Well Play Along. All that money and power means they are right, the teachers and intellectuals, dead on arrival wrong.

So, the School Yard is no longer a Commons (you have to pay to be a human, to breathe, to go about your business if you are poor or lower class) and the fight is almost all drained out of the educators. A few battles waged in Chicago on one half a hundred schools boarded up, and on standardized tests, sure. The fight for a few more crumbs for adjunct labor workers, it bubbled up from time to time. A push here and there for some talk about minimum wage lifted to $10 or $15 an hour.

The One Percent, and their Coders, well, they have their sights on putting all heart-pumping moments into cyber space. Everything shall be filtered into a Rosetta Stone of codes. All things now have to be on the Zuckerberg-Google-Bezos-Gates nano-chips. All things must be iPad ready. The world according to the Coders and their Masters has to be on-line, for  a fee, and at the price of putting more and more people out of good work.

Economies of scale, and exactions of efficiency means all little Coders Become Little Eichmann’s With Toys. The Last Human Standing Will Be Downloaded for Future Viewing.

We’ve been teaching what? I know what Quixote is all about, and what revolution is, and how pacifism works and DOES not work. We’ve let these pigs of human beings cut, lay off, push out, retro-retire, move along, and FIRE, millions and millions of people who thought they had some fun in the sun of capitalism. What were we doing for 40 years of K12 and higher education? Careerists be damned!

It’s happening in China, Turkey, Spain, Greece, England, even Australia. Precarious work for precarious pay, and all those public goods and public NEEDS, well, everything is gone and everything is in the hands of coders. Brazilianization of economies. Study that trend, that neoliberal TREND. The Coders Help Governments and Corporations Dominate the People.

The show and the northern lights and the entire majestic thing of this globe will be trapped in the Coders’ Language of Capitalization, Maximization, Speed, Hyper Capital, empty, devoid and denuded of humanity, caring, community, the in –the –round humanity of talking, yelling, loving, screaming, whispering, jumping, ranting, caring HUMANITY.

These coders laugh at the ones on the outside, those not-in-the-know, those who speak a common language. Code Talk is encrypted in dehumanizing lust. Us, who are horse and buggy thinkers, who desire less not more, who want things to go back to a place that never was realized but was imagined, we are the ones Coders loath or tolerate, and will wash their hands of every single teacher they’ve every had or experienced.

We have never had fully successful communitarian, socialistic, collective and community-directed projects because the drums of Capitalists have been beating for a century. Kings and a few queens hoping for some confluence of The Lobby Class, the Big Lie, the Ever-expanding-corporate-welfare system to take off at hyper-speed and hyper-concentrated and hyper-global rates.

In come The Coders. Every stupid, poignant, predictable and perplexing human frailty, foible, fancy and ferocity will be launched into an app and jammed into some Rube Goldberg sort of mindset for future marketing possibilities. Apps for shit not yet discovered needs “fixing” or “fooling around with.”

This is the new normal – no grand group of fighters looking to mount something against these “if it ain’t broke, then break it and fix it” (per the concept of “the fix is in”) coders and marketers. Just one little windmill after another we throw our dull blades at.

We can’t hit singles let alone home-runs when it comes to faculty fighting for wages, work place respect, and a say in EDUCATION . . . not when the new normal, the new you and the new me will be all mangled and mingled up by the captains of capital wanting ever-ballooning perks and salaries as privatizers looking at education as the next frontier for the taking.

This is so typical, below (be patient — below a few other pulled quotes, first!): From some investing site – Seeking Alpha. You have to sign up to read the full versions of these stories. But, here, look at this vapid writing. A writer telling us that here are questions he-she-s/he just know are on our minds.  This is the new normal – marketing mentality.  What are they called when government agencies send them out to the so-called liberal media?  VNRs. Video News (sic) Reports? (sic). Government-produced reports, AKA, propaganda, packaged and produced by none other than journalists, former or active. Ahh, the coalescing of the two forces. Psy-ops USA. More at PBS, but here’s the Fake TV News at PR Watch**  Things today are much more onerous and DNA entwined!

What are video news releases (VNRs)?
VNRs are pre-packaged “news” segments and additional footage created by broadcast PR firms, or by publicists within corporations or government agencies. VNRs look and sound like independently-gathered reports, but are designed to promote the products, services, public image and/or point of view of the client(s) who funded them. Broadcast PR firms freely provide VNRs to television newsrooms, and often contact newsrooms to encourage them to include the segments in their programs.

Aren’t VNRs just the video equivalent of print press releases?
No. While print press releases are primarily a tool to attract the attention of journalists, VNRs are often used to replace journalists entirely. Of the 87 times that the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) documented TV stations airing VNRs, stations only added independently-gathered footage or information to the segment in seven instances. Every other time, the aired report was built entirely from the VNR footage and script. Thirty-one times, TV stations aired the entire pre-packaged VNR without a single edit.

What’s wrong with TV newsrooms using VNRs?
Viewers have a right to know where their news comes from. For instance, CMD documented three TV stations airing a VNR about a prescription skin cream that was funded by the pharmaceutical company that makes the cream. None of the stations disclosed the source of the segment to their viewers. That’s against the ethical guidelines of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, which state, “News managers and producers should clearly disclose the origin of information and label all material provided by corporate or other non-editorial sources.”

FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein:

JONATHAN ADELSTEIN: It’s very important that the public know if the government is behind something. In the case of political or controversial programming, of course, it’s already required to be disclosed.

But the problem is that, if we don’t have this rule in place in advance, that there’s a judgment call as to whether or not something is political or controversial, then something could air, and then complaints could arise, and, subsequently, we could find that it should’ve been disclosed, but it wasn’t. But at that point, it’s already been basically run on the air, and the people have seen it and it’s too late to take that harm back.

JEFFREY BROWN: In February, David Walker, the head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), wrote that VNRs violate legal provisions that ban “covert propaganda.”

The Justice Department refuted that, saying the so-called covert propaganda prohibition does not apply “where there is no advocacy of a particular viewpoint.”

Hell, the captains of code and the marketers don’t even need the government to produce these reports. Get NPR and PBS, sponsored by the privatizers in higher ed and k12 education, get the great brains of un-education to come on board and put pressure on the vapid editors and the new normal reporters who can’t fathom reading a few books on the stories they think in their digital minds they are breaking. Everyday, the so-called neutral NPR, which is the largest and most heard news platform  in the USA, just pushes and huffs and puffs up ANYTHING high tech. Gushing over the charlatans of computing and Big Brother Internet, again, thanks to the Young Turks, The Coders!

Here is some really pathetic framing of a massively open on-line course crap. MOOCs.  All about stocks, investments, and the vestments of the One Percent — million dollars here and eventually a  multi-billion dollar scheme with a few million people with education-oriented college degrees out of work. They just love getting teachers to help build this on-line crap system — to put themselves out of work, and certainly to deaden any chance of an open academy in the real. Virtual bunk is all that it sells. Smoke, mirror, hubris and breaking a pretty good thing — public and free or low cost education —  that needs ramping up and fortifying and fixing, but not destroyed by pap-sucking Captains of Industry/ These, freaks, who are hoping to turn  education into one giant screen experience, all tied to the low wage computing support network “servicing” the mess and madness, and then the upskilled lives of the CODERS, denuded of ethics and leading lives of the nonintellectual inquisitive. But highly paid in US tender, these Coders feed the  Captains of Industry, so their card game continues:  AKA, sweat shops, warehouses, mines, pits, fields, acid baths, grime and muck.

Okay, this pabulum coming from this Seeking Alpha web site, here. It makes a good journalist to just want to vomit!

Capella’s Sophia And Other MOOCs Are Changing How We Learn

Jun 10 2013, 14:01  |  about: CPLA, includes: APOLBPIESI

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in CPLA over the next 72 hours. (More…)

I’ve been following the for-profit education industry for quite a while now. Somehow, I’ve never paid much attention to one of the industry’s biggest players, Capella Education (CPLA), but I recently became quite interested. Capella is an almost exclusive online higher educator; not the only one of its kind by any stretch. Capella differentiates itself from its competition by emphasizing on quality and innovation, whereas other for-profits, as much as they’ll say and say again that they do, don’t. Capella trades at a premium to its competition but that’s because it beats its competition in just about every relevant comparison test I can think of. In addition, Capella has something that other for-profits don’t. Capella wholly owns Sophia, a MOOC startup that will change the way we learn.

You may or may not have heard of ‘MOOCs’ before. SA contributor Ron Sommer introduced them about a week ago. Massive open online courses (sounds like a video game genre), or MOOCs, are online educational courses that are aimed at huge numbers of participants (we’re talking tens and hundreds of thousands for a single course), and accessible to anyone via internet. I know you probably already have a ton of questions so I’m going to try to anticipate them.

Question 1: What is the difference between a MOOC and a regular online course?

A regular online course typically still has a good deal of teacher-student interaction. The course is held exclusively online but there is still a large expense to the course related to teacher’s presence. A MOOC attempts to minimize the role of the teacher to save money, without sacrificing educational effectiveness. It is quite possible for someone to go through an entire MOOC successfully without ever interacting in real time with a teacher. Right now the future is rather uncertain, but it seems that MOOCs will have knowledgeable staff working in some capacity to answer questions and guide students along that are struggling. Envision a call/online chat center with a bunch of cubicles occupied by professors devoting their time almost exclusively to answering questions.

Question 2: What does this mean for the job security of educators?

It’s true, if the future is to cut the educator out of the process as much as possible, then the market for educators will decline significantly. I think it is important to recognize though that there will always be a market for in-classroom instruction. There will still be traditional high schools and colleges far into the future but I definitely think the move is away from that. The two other roles that teachers will play in the future will be in centers like I mentioned above answering questions and on their own developing curricula. Just as I am working from home creating educational materials for mass consumption as I write this article, teachers will create curricula to submit to MOOCs consisting of educational videos and exercises that will be available to students taking the classes. The students will be able to choose between different teaching styles and see which styles are popular and trending. I don’t know if it’ll happen like this, but teachers could be paid on a commission system in which the pay is based on how many students used their material as well as the satisfaction ratings students gave their material. This would incentivize education, something the education system has needed for years. Teachers don’t need to be pressured by standardized test score quotas, they need positive incentives. Educators could also serve as editors, screening through and verifying incoming material before it is allowed in the MOOC database.

Question 3: Do MOOCs offer college credit now?

Right now, there are several MOOCs out there that have already got some general education courses recommended for college credit. Capella Education subsidiary SOPHIA has 5 courses recommended for college credit by ACE CREDIT. A network of over 2000 colleges and universities recognize ACE CREDIT’s recommendations. Privately owned Udacity andCoursera also have some courses recognized though right now, the vast majority of MOOC courses only offer certificates of completion signed by the course administrator. We are just at the beginning of the MOOC revolution and so I think in the future we’ll see a lot more for-credit course offerings but the fact that some have already been recognized suggests that the system certainly works.

Question 4: What are the costs associated with taking a MOOC?

I was especially curious about this part because the price of revolutionary new products is usually a good indicator of how close they are to mass adoption. For example, the first smartphones were released several years ago but I only got my first smartphone recently. Since release, the prices went lower and lower and the quality and technology inversely steadily increased until the utility that the average consumer got from having a smartphone exceeded the price they had to pay. At that point, I and many others converted because it just didn’t cost much more than getting a regular phone anymore. Now back to MOOCs. Right now, the typical 4 credit gen ed MOOC course only costs $330, $82.50 per credit. I did a net price calculator for Apollo Group (APOL)’s University of Phoenix and found their classes to cost $585 per credit. This is at the higher end of the range. Online classes are usually between $270 and $600 per credit so MOOC’s are already significantly cheaper but that’s not the whole story.  As cloud technology and data storage become cheaper in the future, the price of MOOCs will decline. Not only that, but with more students making use of individual MOOCs, the provider will be able to offer the course at a cheaper price since most of the expense of offering the course won’t scale with participants. Furthermore, there are no extra costs associated with a MOOC. A traditional college student has to pay for campus housing and dining (both significantly overpriced, around $15,000 total per year) and textbook costs. Even most online courses require a textbook of some kind. The text probably averages out to about $100 per course which is quite significant. I can attest to all of this as I am a current undergraduate student. There are no textbook costs associated with a MOOC. Whatever is on your webpage when you are doing the MOOC, whether it is video lessons or words, will serve as your textbook. There will be nothing else to worry about. The fact that the price of a MOOC is already attractive to me and I’m assuming the average student as well, suggests to me that mass adoption really isn’t that far off. It’s exciting to think that we’re maybe 5-10 years away from this.

MOOC Revolution? Wow!@#$%?*

This is the language of bloodless family (sic) women and men. This is the language of Coders and HR and ADMIN types. People who think the entire planet and each burped-up thought have to be coded into something that will later be mined, data analyzed, put through algorithms, anchored to demographic-biometrics, ready for exploitation, estrangement, encasement and economics. Since we all have this on-screen addiction, this sex-crazed thing about technology and the next generation coding, well, is it NOT inevitable that all things between humans will be on-line? Screw teachers. Screw youth. Take over all minds willing and unknowing. Capitalism, via the Codes and their bosses, will prevail over anything. It’s the pine bark beetle of our knowledge and intelligence.

Soon we will be an on-line series of numbers and codes, all our private and employment histories and our dreams and musings and on-or-off-line thoughts pushed into a hundred networks worldwide. Data devourers with Coders and their Masters devising new ways how to maximize the profit for all that information. They are bloodless, and so is their nightmare!

Do I have to refer readers back to June 10 DV, Paul Craig Roberts?

From the bottom up to the top of his article:

The conclusion is inescapable: The same government that lies about weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein’s al-Qaeda connections, Iranian nukes, and so on, also lies about jobs, the unemployment rate, the inflation rate, rigs every financial and commodity market, pretends that terrorism is such a threat that the US Constitution must be set aside and that Americans are safer without the protection of habeas corpus and due process. It is amazing how rare terrorism is, especially with Washington in the second decade of trying to stir up terrorism by invading countries on totally false pretenses, murdering citizens of countries, such as Pakistan and Yemen with drones, and supporting Israel’s never-ending murder and dispossession of the Palestinians. After such massive provocations from Washington, one would think that the world would be ablaze with terrorism. But it isn’t.

As there is so little terrorism, Washington and its presstitute media call those who resist Washington’s invasion of their countries “terrorists.” Everyone who resists Washington’s military aggression is a terrorist. Just ask the New York TimesFox News, or any neoconservative. Or, for that matter, the Bilderbergs, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and Homeland Security, the Gestapo organization that now defines all American dissenters to be “domestic extremists.”

[…]

The payroll jobs report for May released today continues the fantasy. Goods producing jobs declined, with manufacturing losing another 4,000 jobs, but the New Economy produced 179,000 service jobs.

And, we are now a colonized society – Consumopithecus Anthropocene, Retailopithecus, morphing quickly into Virtualnothing Erectus.

This is, again, the blathering reality of our time, the following retort to my piece on the minimum wage on DV recently:

 If you believe that raising the minimum wage will have no effect on prices, then click your heels three time while saying “There is no place like home”. People invest their hard earned money in companies to make a profit from their investment and it is the companies LEGAL obligation to earn the most profit possible. If one wishes to earn a “living wage” spend time learning a valuable skill, wrapping hamburgers or making pizzas is NOT a career. Along with education the world demands hustle hustle hustle. In order to be successful a person must bust their butt, work for less until you have experience and skills to offer your employer value for their money. The company you work for is not there to give you a living, they exist to make a PROFIT. Stop whining and get to work.

Story here: **

Mass consumption. Teachers in Wired-Skyped cubicles and all those people in service centers — Massive Education of the Dead. All of us at home on computers trolling for tidbits and servicing people. No interchanges, multiple discussions, in the real, with blustery people demanding things on the spot, and instructors changing up things moment to moment. No, we wouldn’t want a nice campus or even a Spartan campus to meet at and have real interchanges around.  Nope, it’s all in those service centers, drab, dead cubicles scented with Lithium candles. While we stream and get these nuclear buffers and uploads. Real-time motion and classes, brought to us by The Coders. All  what Johnny and Juanita and Karamu and Wong want – to stay at home, the stay at home student, stay at home worker, stay at home consumer. Platforms created by the Coders. All the bells and whistles forced on us by the Coders. The teachers? They aren’t there. Just coded virtual whirls and holographic light beams. Life and civic engagement and even day-to-day government work, let’s MOOC it, baby.

This is how we save the world, whatever we might have to save, during the great peril of climate change, Diaspora, Big Brother, and money changers. Degraded into Virtualnothing Erectus, the new new HU-M-AN.

A little critical pedagogy and literature of the oppressed by Henry Giroux, to riff on my take on things:

Market forces have altered radically the language we use in both representing and evaluating human behavior and action. One consequence is that civic discourse has given way to the language of commercialism, privatization, and deregulation. In addition, individual and social agency are defined largely through market-driven notions of individualism, competition, and consumption. As such, the individual choices we make as consumers become increasingly difficult to differentiate from the “collective choices we make as citizens.”  Under such circumstances, citizens lose their public voice as market liberties replace civic freedoms and society increasingly depends on “consumers to do the work of citizens.”  Similarly, as corporate culture extends even deeper into the basic institutions of civil and political society, there is a simultaneous diminishing of non-commodified public spheres–those institutions engaged in dialogue, education, and learning–that address the relationship of the self to public life, social responsibility to the broader demands of citizenship, and provide a robust vehicle for public participation and democratic citizenship. Without these critical public spheres corporate power goes unchecked and politics becomes dull, cynical, and oppressive.  But more importantly, in the absence of such public spheres it becomes more difficult for citizens to challenge the neoliberal myth that citizens are merely consumers and that “wholly unregulated markets are the sole means by which we can produce and distribute everything we care about, from durable goods to spiritual values, from capital development to social justice, from profitability to sustainable environments, from private wealth to essential commonweal.”  As democratic values give way to commercial values, intellectual ambitions are often reduced to an instrument of the entrepreneurial self, and social visions are dismissed as hopelessly out of date. Public space is portrayed exclusively as an investment opportunity, and the public good increasingly becomes a metaphor for public disorder. Within this discourse, anyone who does not believe that rapacious capitalism is the only road to freedom and the good life is dismissed as either a crank or worse. Hence, it is not surprising that Joseph Kahn writing in The New York Times argues without irony that “these days, it seems, only wild-eyed anarchists and Third World dictators believe capitalism is not the high road to a better life.”  Divested of its political possibilities and social underpinnings, freedom finds few opportunities for translating private worries into public concerns or individual discontent into collective struggle.

Paul Kirk has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. Read other articles by Paul.