Anton Sherwood on The Listserve, “Down with ‘capitalism’!”:

The word CAPITALISM, which means at least two very different things:

  • A free market, in which private property and services are exchanged without anyone’s permission.

  • Government benefits to existing businesses, including subsidies and regulations designed to prevent or discourage competition from new businesses.

Conservative politicians point to the first to gain approval for the second. Progressive politicians point to the second to scare you away from the first. Despite their rivalry for office, they share a vital interest in preserving the system, and thus in obscuring the difference between the two “capitalisms”.

So I’ve stopped using the word “capitalism”, at least on its own. For the first I say “free market” or “open market”. I haven’t quite decided what to call the second; it has been called “crony capitalism” and “neo-mercantilism”.

Honestly, the Listserve is often terrible – a lot of your standard “feel good” fare without a lot of depth. That’s kind of the nature of the beast. But about as often, interesting, thought-provoking bits come through.

The one question I would raise in response to Anton is whether or not the “crony capitalism” is really a separate ‘type’ of capitalism or if it’s just a feature of the “free market” capitalism. I’m wouldn’t be surprised if the function money plays always results in the type of glad-handing system we’ve ended up with.

David Karp, Tumblr, and Just Rewards

Jumping off of Monday’s post about Tumblr and David Karp, I’ve been thinking about what it means to deserve rewards for your work.

If I’m interpreting correctly, Biddle basically is arguing that Karp doesn’t deserve this kind of payout, that it “sets a bad precedent” for those who pursue businesses with no financial goals. I posted yesterday that I thought that was a problematic position to take. (more…)

Accidentally Sexist: Warren Buffett Edition

Discrimination, as it becomes less obvious, becomes a more difficult problem to root out. It becomes less about the obvious repression and more about the way past discrimination is still deeply embedded in the social fabric. We often generally espouse views of equality and respect, but individual actions and views, unbeknownst to ourselves, don’t align.

To start with the niceties, I do think Warren Buffett has his heart in the right place. I do think he wants women to be equally represented in the workplace. Unfortunately, you can’t get equality when you lead with victim blaming.

Read the rest of this post on IBTimes’ Fighting Words blog.

Is Getting Rich Off Ideas a Bad Thing?

I’m honestly still wrapping my head around this from Sam Biddle in Valleywag:

This same guy just cleared, by most estimations, a couple hundred million dollars. In what possible world does that make sense? In our new tech economy, where dreams are better than dollars, it makes perfect sense. Yahoo didn’t just buy a company, it validated, to the tune of a billion dollars, the notion that bad business is worth pursuing. The entire concept of what makes something a good idea continues to be inverted, warped, and thrown in a gully. This is the idea economy, remember—the industry of fantasy. It doesn’t have to “make sense.” Money isn’t valuable. Success isn’t lucrative. Profit is pointless. These are the industry’s norms. All you need do to become a billion-dollar business is make people entertained and vaguely interested. (more…)

Paul Krugman in The Conscience of a Liberal, “The Smith/Klein/Kalecki Theory of Austerity”:

What Smith didn’t note, somewhat surprisingly, is that his argument is very close to Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine, with its argument that elites systematically exploit disasters to push through neoliberal policies even if these policies are essentially irrelevant to the sources of disaster. I have to admit that I was predisposed to dislike Klein’s book when it came out, probably out of professional turf-defending and whatever — but her thesis really helps explain a lot about what’s going on in Europe in particular.

Honestly, it’s about time he connected the push towards austerity with Klein’s Shock Doctrine.  It’s seemed fairly obvious to me the two were connected, and he’s hinted at similar issues before in arguing that the real reason for the push towards austerity is to dismantle the welfare state, not because it actually results in higher growth.

Jonathan Haber on Degree of Freedom, “xMOOC vs. cMOOC”:

The experience I just described made me realize that I like to be taught by a “sage-on-the-stage,” or, more particularly, by someone with way more expertise on the subject than I and my fellow students have who is also skilled and experienced at transferring this knowledge to others.  In no way does this mean that xMOOCs are inherently superior to cMOOCs on the same subject.  But it does mean that different options may be needed to meet the needs of people with widely varying strengths, weaknesses and preferences that make up their learning styles.

This is an interesting observation, given how much sage-on-the-stage gets blasted. As much as I kind of dislike xMOOCs, that model can be preferable to some people, so let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The problem with xMOOCs has a lot more to do with marketing/hype, and the host of problems that comes along with that, than merely its format.

John Hermann and Ben Smith of Buzzfeed, “The Media Doesn’t Own The Story Anymore”:

Under the old rules, a responsible citizen passed any potential bit of news he could find on to the professionals. The professionals collected tips, corroborated them, published the ones that panned out. Reporters could protect their readers from bad information — indeed, for reporters, the story was defined largely by what was kept from the public; for readers, the story was defined by the story. But now we should assume our readers and viewers see virtually everything that we see. We can no longer decide which rumors and scraps of information should be dignified with publication — a sufficiently compelling scrap of information, be it a picture of a man with a black backpack or an anonymous, single-sentence Reddit post from the scene of the crime, will become news on that merit alone.

Interesting change in the way the media tells the story – less about presenting facts and more about narrative.

Martin Weller on The Ed Techie, “The MOOC Wars”:

So Clark dismisses the impact of early MOOCers, claiming it was Khan that caused it all: “It took a hedge fund manager to shake up education because he didn’t have any HE baggage.” Why? Because it appeals to the narrative to have a saviour riding in from outside HE to save education. If you acknowledge that these ideas may have come from within HE then that could look like venture capitalists latching on to a good idea in universities and trying to make money from it. That doesn’t sound as sexy and brave.

The original Canadian developers of the MOOC (now dubbed the “cMOOC”) are being written out of the history books.  Martin has a good idea why.

AP Social Media Guidelines Are A Step In The Right Direction

On Tuesday, the Associated Press released an update to its social media guidelines. Obviously a response to the Boston Marathon bombing, the updates were intended to focus mostly on the newsgathering and dissemination process around breaking news events — called “sensitive situations.” And they did a decent job.

Read the rest of this blog post on IBTimes’ Fighting Words.