Digitally Literate #193

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Freedom to Press
Digitally Lit #193 – 4/13/2019

Hi all, my name is Ian O’Byrne and welcome to Digitally Literate. In this newsletter, I try to synthesize what happened this week so you can be digitally literate as well.

I posted a couple of things this week:


How to take a picture of a black hole (12:51)

In this video published on April 28, 2017, Katie Bouman talks about how we might be able to use the Event Horizon Telescope to


How Katie Bouman Accidentally Became the Face of the Black Hole Project

First of all, we should all be excited/amazed that scientists were able to globally connect a network of radio telescopes, and use computing power to stitch this content together…and peer into a black hole. That, by itself is amazing.

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Second, most of the world learned about this breakthrough as it was accompanied by the following photo showing Dr. Katie Bouman looking on in wonder as the results came through.

Following the initial wave of euphoria about this news, and the viral photo, a number of trolls on Reddit and Twitter have circulated memes contrasting Bouman’s work with that of Andrew Chael, a white male scientist who is also a member of the Event Horizon Telescope team behind the black hole project. Algorithms on YouTube and search engines soon started pushing these memes to accelerate this trolling narrative.

The truth about the team behind the project, and Bouman’s response is obviously far more nuanced.

I think we can learn a great deal about the trolling that happens online, and how to prepare/protect individuals/groups. I think we also need to recognize that recognizing diversity, and (in this case) women in science is critically important. Anything less is a huge loss of talent, skill, ideas, and perspective.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange evicted and arrested

Early Thursday morning, Ecuador terminated the asylum status of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, and he was arrested by British authorities. Shortly after, the Justice Department released a one count indictment against Assange, alleging that he conspired to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act with whistleblower Chelsea Manning in 2010.

There are layers of story (known & unknown) behind the scenes around WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. For now, I’d like to focus on the possible chilling effects on the freedom of the press, and the free flow of information online. For more on this perspective, please review the responses from the ACLU, EFF, and the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

We’re not going to take it anymore

Kara Swisher in the NY Times on the growing control that tech companies have over our digital lives. It is time for us to take some of our power back in this exchange.

In other words, get over it? I don’t intend to, and I don’t think anyone else should, either. While we may have zero privacy, it doesn’t mean that we have given up our right to control our digital selves. In fact, as tech marches on, that might be the one right that needs to be protected most of all.


Kyle Korver shared his commentary on privilege and institutional racism. Many on Twitter applauded this as a powerful, must-read essay. Still others are tired of the “standing ovation” given when a person of privilege points out the obvious. My favorite response to this Korver piece is this video from Jason Whitlock.

For me, the focus is on the difference between listening and hearing. I’m still continuing my journey.

White people assume niceness is the answer to racial inequality. It’s not.

A powerful piece by Robin DiAngelo on niceness and the reproduction of racial inequality.

We can begin by acknowledging ourselves as racial beings with a particular and limited perspective on race. We can attempt to understand the racial realities of people of color through authentic interaction rather than through the media or through unequal relationships. We can insist that racism be discussed in our workplaces and a professed commitment to racial equity be demonstrated by actual outcomes. We can get involved in organizations working for racial justice. These efforts require that we continually challenge our own socialization and investments in racism and put what we profess to value into the actual practice of our lives. This takes courage, and niceness without strategic and intentional anti-racist action is not courageous.


Google will now let you use your Android phone as a physical security key

You should all be using two-factor authentication on your devices and services. For me, this means using Authy to enable and save these codes on my phone. When I log in to an account, I need to pull out my phone, open Authy, read the six digit code, and type it into the browser.

Google/Android are proposing a new system that will use a Bluetooth to have the phone talk to the computer and eliminate this next step. I’ve been thinking about purchasing a physical security key (more on that soon). This looks like a possible (easier) next step.

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The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

Friedrich Nietzsche
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Digitally Literate is a magazine focused on all the great stuff this week in technology, education, & literacy. Follow along here.

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