The week@work: digitizing common sense, Vatican women@work, Dee Rees on cinema and Radhika Jones on journalism

Since we’ve done so well with humans’ ability to demonstrate common sense, it follows that there would be an effort to teach machines ‘native intelligence’. This week@work we follow the efforts to digitize common sense, and explore the lives of women@work in the Vatican, cinema and journalism.

Common sensesound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence”. It’s one of those ‘must have’ components in a successful work/life portfolio. Cade Metz reports on Paul Allen’s endeavor to translate ‘native intelligence’ into ‘artificial intelligence’.

“A.I. “recognizes objects, but can’t explain what it sees. It can’t read a textbook and understand the questions in the back of the book,” said Oren Etzioni, a former University of Washington professor who oversees the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. “It is devoid of common sense.”

Success may require years or even decades of work — if it comes at all. Others have tried to digitize common sense, and the task has always proved too large.”

Perhaps it’s impossible to duplicate what’s not totally present in the original.

The ‘random’ compensation of nuns

If you were raised Catholic or attended Catholic schools, you’ve probably been influenced by the women, ‘sisters’, who served as teachers, administrators and counselors. In a stunning report this week, in a monthly supplement to the Vatican daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, these women confidentially shared the realities of their 24/7 workplace.

vatican nite.jpg“It is hard to evaluate the extent of the problem of the unpaid or badly paid work of these women religious which is in any case barely recognized…Yet it is not only a question of money. The matter of financial compensation constitutes rather the trees which hide the forest of a far greater problem: recognition of how matters stand. So many women religious have the feeling that much is being done to give new value to male vocations but that very little is being done to do the same for female vocations. “Unfortunately behind all this lies the idea that women are worth less than men and, especially, that the priest is all whereas the sister is nothing in the Church.”

“We are religious in order to serve to the very end and it is precisely this that causes a slippage in the subconscious of many people in the Church, creating the conviction that paying us does not fit into the natural order of things, whatever may be the service that we offer. The sisters are seen as voluntary workers to be made use of as desired which gives rise to real abuses of power. Behind all this lies the question of the professionalism and competence of women religious, which many people have a hard time recognizing”.

As we reflect on the ‘power’ relationships in film, politics and corporations, perhaps @TIMESUPNOW should broaden the tent to include folks who took a vow of poverty not realizing it meant losing their voice, being invisible.

Dee Rees delivers a tutorial on the art of cinema
On Saturday, writer-director Dee Rees was awarded the Robert Altman Award for her movie, Mudbound. She accepted with a speech that many industry insiders described as a cinematic manifesto. It’s a must read for anyone who considers themselves a film-maker.

DGWG0odUMAEyXHa.jpg“I know that as Independent Filmmakers, as the so-called Rebels, as the Outsiders creating without respect to means or access…

I know that we, of all makers, are far, far beyond any Identity Tokenism or Snobbery of Form 

In both production and distribution

Because we know that cinema lies not in

A strip of celluloid 

A length of magnetic tape

Nor across the blind plain of an image sensor 

No, we know that

Cinema lies in absorbing , electrifying Performances by committed actors 

That make audiences feel, that make them think, make them observe themselves and world around them in a more expansive way

Like Rob Morgan’s intelligent, deliberate, emotionally exquisite performance of Hap Jackson, a man whose capabilities, ambition and work ethic are continually undone by the ancient and overlapping systems of social and economic oppression that still exist today 

We know that cinema lies in the thoughtful and narrative Composition and Choreography of subject, movement, color, and light 

Like  Rachel Morrison’s compelling, sculptural,  humanistic photography that elevates reality into a visceral, highly textured symphony of feeling…”

(Full text and video at deadline.com)

Radhika Jones on culture, conformity and journalism
In November, Radhika Jones was introduced as the new editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, adding to her resume of experience at Time and The New York Times. March marks the first issue under her guidance and in her first editor’s letter she connects her background to storytelling and her new “responsibility to interrogate the culture’s most powerful players and hold them to account.”

edit-master768.jpg“There’s a movie coming out this month that I’ve been waiting all my life to see: A Wrinkle in Time, based on Madeleine L’Engle’s fantasy novel, which was published in 1962 but is only now receiving its first big-screen adaptation. There was almost no novel to adapt. Twenty-six publishers rejected L’Engle’s manuscript before John Farrar, of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, took it on. You can imagine how A Wrinkle in Time may have perplexed publishers. The plot hinges on shortcuts through the space-time continuum; it leavens its central fight against evil with amusing scenes involving midnight liverwurst sandwiches. But at its core L’Engle’s tale tackles a problem most people have to cope with sooner or later: how to be yourself in a world that prefers conformity.

I was born in New York City and grew up in Cincinnati. My first name, common enough in India, was unusual and often threw people off. I tried not to mind, though I secretly wished I were called Elizabeth. I grew up, grew into myself, became an editor, and learned the delights of helping writers shape their stories.

For those of us who care about storytelling, about influence, about soft and hard power, this is a singularly rich moment to be in journalism. I had my first, heady conversation about the editorship of Vanity Fair on September 20 of last year. Two weeks later, The New York Times published the first of its series of reports about Harvey Weinstein. Arguments that have simmered for years—about the importance of championing women, new voices, people who come from a wide range of ethnicities and backgrounds—are finding an audience.”

And, one last storyMichael Cooper‘s profile of conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the new music director of The Metropolitan Opera.011618_2330a.jpg

If binge watching ‘Mozart in the Jungle’ has prompted you to consider a career as maestro, spend 14 hours ‘shadowing’ the new conductor at the Met.

“If there is one thing Mr. Nézet-Séguin has been criticized for, it has been for taking on too much: He is also the music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Orchestre Métropolitain in his native Montreal, and is wrapping up his final season with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. But earlier on Friday, as he headed back to conduct “Parsifal,” he had brushed off the suggestion that he was overstretched.

“Yes, I do have a high level of energy — that’s clear,” he said. “That’s maybe why I love New York. There is this kind of pace. But I am able, definitely, to also stop and do nothing.”

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Ms. Jones – The New York Times, Mr. Nézet-Séguin – Rose Callahan Met Opera

The week@work – It’s in the stars: Hollywood stories, #YearInSpace & 18,300 applications

The stories behind the headlines this week@work originate in Hollywood, Geneva, Washington D.C., and on the International Space Station.

The careers of a U.S. deputy trade ambassador and an executive editor for the Washington Post converge in Hollywood, astronaut Scott Kelly captures the final week of his #YearInSpace in photos, and 18,300 applicants aspire to take his place.

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Would you get up at 4:30 AM every day to pursue your dream? Alexandra Alter reported on a ‘behind the scenes’ Hollywood story about working beyond your ‘day job’.

One of the most successful global trade negotiators added a few hours to his work day 17 years ago to write a novel about fur trader Hugh Glass. His book, ‘The Revenant’ was published in 2002 and sold 15,000 copies. Last year publisher Picador reissued the novel, selling over half a million copies.

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Michael Punke, the deputy United States Trade Representative and the United States ambassador to the World Trade Organization and author, has become a rock star among colleagues in global trade.

“We all think it’s quite cool,” said Keith Rockwell, a spokesman for the W.T.O., who added that colleagues occasionally tease Mr. Punke by asking him how his buddy Leo is doing. “The W.T.O. isn’t normally known for having a Hollywood connection.”

Some of his colleagues marvel that he has such a successful side career, while steering the country’s international trade policy from his post in Geneva.

“The guy is so talented, you read his bio, and it’s like he has two lives,” said Christopher Wenk, the executive director for international policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”

Joining Ambassador Punke at the Dolby Theater on Oscar night is current Washington Post executive editor and former Boston Globe editor Martin Baron.

In November, Esquire Magazine ran a career profile asking ‘Is Martin Baron the Best News Editor of All Time?’. In the Oscar nominated film, ‘Spotlight’, actor Liev Schreiber’s performance channels the editor who led the Pulitzer Prize winning team investigating the child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

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This week, Mr. Baron used his time in the Oscar ‘spotlight’ to reflect on the long term rewards of the film and journalism today, ‘I’m in ‘Spotlight’, but it’s not really about me. It’s about the power of journalism.’

“Aside from the acclaim of critics, “Spotlight” already has delivered one gratifying result. In emails, tweets and Facebook posts, journalists have declared themselves inspired, buoyed and affirmed. That is no small matter in this badly bruised profession. We have felt the traumatizing financial effect of the Internet and been berated by just about everyone, especially politicians in a campaign season that has seen us cynically labeled “scum.”

One journalist wrote me that “the story that inspired the movie serves as a wonderful, wonderful reminder why so many of us got into this business in the first place and why so many stayed despite all the gloom and doom and all the left hooks that landed squarely on our chins along the way.”

The article is required reading for all who earn a living pursuing a journalism career. It should be framed on the walls of journalism schools and be the first google search result on the world ‘journalism’.

Two additional stories about work in Hollywood this week addressed the ongoing conversation on inclusion:

‘From C-Suite to Characters on Screen: How inclusive is the entertainment industry?’ USC Annenberg professor Stacy L. Smith authored the MDSC Initiative’s first report on diversity in the entertainment industry.

Melena Ryzik profiled 27 industry professionals in ‘What It’s Really Like to Work in Hollywood*  (*If you’re not a straight white man.)’

Before leaving the week@work, let’s travel to the International Space Station where astronaut Scott Kelly is completing his 240 day mission in space.

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“10,944 sunrises and sunsets

“The International Space Station zips around Earth at more than 17,000 miles per hour, or once every 90 minutes. That means over the course of Mr. Kelly’s stay, the space station will have made 5,440 orbits, and the sun will have gone up and down 10,944 times from the perspective of the astronauts aboard. Of course, Mr. Kelly did not see all of them. He is not continuously looking out the window, and he sleeps, too.”

(Scott Kelly tweeted the photo above of sunrise on February 27 and ice earlier today)CcT9mfcW4AAZFvx.jpg

NASA announced this week that it had received 18,300 applications for 14 open spots in the new astronaut class. The recruiting effort which began in the fall demonstrates a rekindled interest in exploration and discovery.

“Now that NASA’s Feb. 18 deadline for applicants has passed, the agency’s 18-month winnowing process has begun.

NASA staff will look at 400 to 600 applicants who survive the initial purge and identify those who pass reference and background checks. Then 120 will be invited to the Johnson Space Center for interviews.

The final 14 will be announced in July 2017 and begin two years of extensive training on spacecraft systems, spacewalking skills, team building and Russian language. Those who complete the program will be assigned to NASA’s Orion deep space exploration ship, the International Space Station or one of two commercial vehicles in development.”

As @StationCDRKelley vacates his spot on the ISS, it’s good to know there are thousands who hope to fill his seat.

This week@work – it’s in the stars, and the dreams of those who aspire to be actors, film makers, journalists, writers, astronauts, and international trade negotiators.