Digitally Literate #194

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Getting lost in the crowd
Digitally Lit #194 – 4/20/2019

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:


The science behind vanishing ice (1:55)

This immersive, mixed reality video from The Weather Channel gives a preview of what to expect in coming years with the advent of climate change. This one hits close to home as they begin in Charleston and finish in Norfolk, Virginia.


Sneak preview of the Mozilla 2019 Internet Health Report

The full Internet Health Report from Mozilla will come out next week, but they shared a sneak preview of the report. The report focuses on five key areas.

  • Decentralization: Who really controls the internet? A small number of companies, both well-known and not, exert massive influence over our online lives … can decentralized alternatives or collaborative ownership structures help give the control back to the user?
  • Digital Inclusion: Where are the major inequities in internet access, and why? What bright spots are on the horizon?
  • Openness: What data sets are being used to train artificial intelligence systems, and who decides that and why? What are the real-world consequences when they are biased, and what can be done to prevent those?
  • Privacy & Security: Everyone’s digital profiles consist of data from thousands of trackers in mobile apps or on the Web, practically whenever we are connected to the internet. What alternatives are there to the internet’s current business model of “surveillance capitalism?”
  • Web Literacy: Learning about the web is a lot more than just HTML these days. Is the optimistic vision of the internet as an open playing field still alive?

Privacy is too big to understand

As part of his Privacy Project newsletter, Charlie Warner talks about the challenges of defining and discussing privacy in current contexts.

“Privacy” is an impoverished word — far too small a word to describe what we talk about when we talk about the mining, transmission, storing, buying, selling, use and misuse of our personal information.

Why You Can No Longer Get Lost in the Crowd

Woodrow Hartzog and Evan Selinger on obscurity and our lack of privacy due to a networked, digital society.

Lawmakers and industry leaders are missing the big picture. They are stuck on traditional concepts like “transparency,” “consent” and “secrecy,” which leads to proposals that reinforce broken mechanisms like consenting to unreadable terms of service. They are operating under the dangerous illusion that there’s a clear distinction between what’s public and what’s private.

15 months of fresh hell inside Facebook

Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein in a wide-ranging look into the behind the scenes with Facebook over the last year. As a regular reader of my newsletter, you know that there seems to be a mix between meltdown and mayhem. Immediately following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook’s loose privacy policies, and obfuscation of their attempts to address these situations.

It seems like their motto of “move fast and break things” is very accurate.

More to come on this story…

“On a sunbeam,” the sci-fi comic that reimagines utopia

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I love finding bits of whimsy online, especially when it involves the double mix of sci-fi and graphic novels. Stephanie Burt shares this review of On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden. The book first appeared online as a serial webcomic…which you can access here.


Chicken Tikka Masala

I’m a foodie. I love trying new foods, and have been trying to find some decent Indian food since we moved to the Southeast, so this video hit home.

I’m also a big fan of the Binging with Babish YouTube channel. It’s been exciting to see the network of services and platforms he has built up in a relatively short period of time. His latest move seems to be brilliant. He livestreamed his cooking (from start to end – 2 hours & 44 minutes) of the chicken tikka masala. This was edited down to the final product in the link I shared above.

Now he’s giving people an opportunity to cook along with him as he creates content. As more people have video/web devices in their kitchens and can tune in to join for longer content.

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In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost.

Dante Alighieri

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This week I listened to “Life Metal” by Sunn O))) as I finalized this issue.

Digitally Literate is a summary of all the great stuff from the Internet this week in technology, education, & literacy. Follow along here.

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