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All Comes Down to Power

Hello there. Here is Digitally Literate, issue #313.

I hope you took the time to give some gratitude this week. You are appreciated.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Reach out and say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

What’s one of the most dangerous toys for kids? The Internet

Everyone knows how tough it may be to shut our social media apps and stroll away from our gadgets. Only one extra scroll, we inform ourselves. Only one extra peek at a hyperlink. After which, abruptly, we’re deep down the rabbit gap of yet one more feed.

Within the Opinion Video above, youngsters inform us what they find out about how the web works (not a lot) and the way a lot they use it (so much).

Learn from machine learning

David Weinberger on machine learning, and how the everyday world may be more accidental than rule-governed. If so, it will be because machine learning gains its epistemological power from its freedom from the sort of generalizations that we humans can understand or apply.

The opacity of machine learning systems raises serious concerns about their trustworthiness and their tendency towards bias. But the brute fact that they work could be bringing us to a new understanding and experience of what the world is and our role in it.

As we grow more and more reliant on machine learning models (MLMs) that we cannot understand, we could start to tell ourselves either of two narratives:

  • The first narrative says that inexplicability is a drawback we often must put up with in order to gain the useful, probabilistic output that MLMs generate.
  • The second says that the inexplicability is not a drawback but a truth: MLMs work because they’re better at reading the world than we are: they result from the statistical interrelating of more and finer-detailed data than other systems can manage, without having to worry about explaining itself to us humans.

People are talking about Web3. Is it the Internet of the future or just a buzzword?

There’s a buzzword that fintech, crypto, and venture-capital types have become infatuated with lately. Blog posts and podcasts are all peppered with the term Web3.

Web3, also known as Web 3.0, is an idea for a version of the Internet that is decentralized and based on public blockchains. Web 1.0 refers roughly to the period from 1991 to 2004, where the vast majority of Internet users were solely consumers of content. The web was seen as a way to democratize access to information, but most websites were static pages that displayed content from the server filesystem rather than a database. Web 2.0 is based around the idea of “the web as platform” as users of the Internet produce content and upload it to social networking services, blogs, or video or image-sharing websites. Web 2.0 is generally considered to have begun around 2004 and continues to the current day.

Many began talking about Web 3.0, or a semantic web after the term was coined by Tim Berners-Lee in 1999.

There is a difference between Web3 and Web 3.0. The main difference is a focus on decentralization. Decentralization is the process by which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding planning and decision making, are distributed or delegated away from a central, authoritative location or group. Put simply, instead of putting all of your photos up on Instagram, you might use a decentralized photo-sharing network like PixelFed.


China Looks to Set Up Digital Asset Bourse in Virtual Yuan Push

China has been in process of creating a virtual version of its legal tender since 2014 in an effort to cope with an increasingly digitized economy as well as to fend off potential threats from virtual currencies such as Bitcoin. It banned crypto exchanges in 2017 and stepped up scrutiny this year to ban crypto mining and all related transactions, in tandem with campaigns to promote the digital yuan. 

bourse is a market organized for the purpose of buying and selling securities, commodities, options, and other investments. The term bourse also means purse in French and is synonymous with an exchange in Europe.

In China’s battle against cryptocurrencies (bitcoin and tokens) the idea is to remove ideas about decentralization and open systems. The concepts don’t fit within a centralized, or authoritarian regime. Even with these tensions, China is very much interested in pursuing the digital yuan or digital renminbi.

The usage and flow of digital currency can be controlled and monitored. It could be tied to a person’s social credit score and tied to centralized and government-controlled applications.


How the pandemic pulled Nigerian university students into cybercrime

Absolutely fantastic article from Olatunji Olaigbe on how one Nigerian university student turned to cybercrime during the pandemic to pay his bills, driven by high unemployment, few well-paying jobs, and boredom.

…descent into cybercrime can sound rational given the nightmare of trying to stay afloat amid the pandemic in Nigeria. 

“I needed to do something. I needed to survive,” Kayode said. “I’m not justifying my decision, but there’s something in being at home, doing nothing, but paradoxically doing everything in your capacity to stay alive, yet you are kind of dying, that makes you care less about others.”


Apple plans to replace the iPhone with AR in 10 years

Apple’s long-rumored augmented reality (AR) headset project is set to bear its first fruit late next year with the launch of the first device carrying a pair of processors to support its high-end capabilities, according to a new report from noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

(Image credit: Martin Hajek/idropnews)

Kuo says the initial AR headset will be able to operate independently without needing to be tethered to a Mac or iPhone, and Apple is intending it to support a “comprehensive range of applications” with an eye toward replacing the ‌iPhone‌ within ten years.

Apple has been integrating AR tech into its phones for years. ARKit, maps, LIDAR sensors, and ultra-wideband (UWB) chips for accurate location detection. Their AR staff is industry-leading. The groundwork is all there. We often indicate that “it’ll never work” or “I’ll never use that.” I felt the same way about the iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods….

Using these 8 common phrases can ruin your credibility

To sound more credible, remove the following caveats from your speech:

  • To be honest
  • In my opinion
  • You may already know this, but
  • I’m not sure
  • I could be wrong
  • This is probably a stupid question
  • Just a thought
  • If you don’t mind

I chose and my world was shaken
So what?
The choice may have been mistaken,
The choosing was not.

Steven Sondheim

Thanks to Doug Belshaw, I was alerted to the presence of PixelFed.Social and was able to create an account last week. PixelFed is a decentralized photo-sharing network based on the ActivityPub protocol, the same one that Mastodon uses.

There’s a lot of reasons not to like Instagram, and why PixelFed won’t save us. I use Instagram primarily to share/archive images. All of the content I share is text/quotes. I don’t really spend any time zombie scrolling the app. I am in a continuous process of trying to either own or decentralize the tools I use online.

Say hey at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Start Often F*@k Achievements

Hello there. Here is Digitally Literate, issue #312.

This week I worked on a lot of things in the background.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Reach out and say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

NYC’s nonprofit DIY internet is taking on Verizon & more

Limited or no access to high speed internet throws up massive barriers to education, employment, health, banking, social networking, and government service options. One non-profit is looking to challenge the top dogs by providing people with another option of where they get their internet.

NYC Mesh thinks the answer may be a decentralized, community-driven internet network — a “mesh” — that can service city residents for little to no cost. 

Read more here.

How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation

Karen Hao on how the tech giants are paying millions of ad dollars to bankroll clickbait actors, fueling the deterioration of information ecosystems around the world. Many of these actors *would not exist* without these payments from both platforms.

Over the past few weeks, the Facebook Papers have reaffirmed that FB has fueled the spread of hate speech & misinformation around the world. But there’s a crucial piece missing from the story. FB isn’t just amplifying misinformation. The company is also funding it.


How Twitter got research right

Casey Newton indicating that while other tech giants hide from their internal researchers, Twitter is doing its failing — and fixing — in public. Here’s what Newton learned in the review.

  • Twitter is betting that public participation will accelerate and improve its findings.
  • Responsible AI is hard in part because no one fully understands decisions made by algorithms.
  • There’s no real consensus on what ranking algorithms “should” do.
  • Twitter thinks algorithms can be saved. 

Disney’s text-to-speech TikTok voices censored words like “gay” and “lesbian”

TikTokers have demonstrated that Disney’s text-to-speech TikTok voice, meant to sound like Rocket the Raccoon, would refuse to read words like “gay,” “lesbian,” or “queer” out loud.

@kbwild_

The ending is my favorite part #disneyplusday #disneytexttospeech #rocket #rockettexttospeech #disneyvoice #lesbian #lesbianstereotypes #ledollarbean #gaytiktok #lesbiantiktok #lgbtcreators #queertiktok #alphabetmafia🌈

♬ Disney wont say Gay – KaraBiner (Kbwild)

This decision seems to have been reverted — you can now get the voice to read out those words, but it’s unclear why it was happening.

This is interesting as it raises questions about what we could and should do with technology.


More Software Isn’t Better Software

A few months after Eugen Rochko earned his degree in computer science, he decided to push out an open sourced social network not too different from one of his favorite — but flawed, in his view — sites, Twitter. He named it Mastodon and it soon took off.

Mastodon is shared was created as free, open source software with a “copy-left” license, which means anyone can download it, run it, and change it, on the condition that they continue to work under the same license and freely share the altered version they are operating.

Last month, Rochko learned that Mastodon was being used to run Donald Trump’s new Truth Social network. Rochko may not agree with the views expressed on the new network. But, the licensing for the software indicates that he can not ask that they refrain from using Mastodon. Not only is Trump permitted to use the software for his own peculiar purposes, but the free software saves a startup like Truth Social millions of dollars in programming expenses. All Mastodon asks in return is that Truth Social then pay it forward. As of the date of this newsletter, Truth Social has now complied with this request by making the source code to publicly available in compliance with the license,” which is known as AGPLv3.

It remains to be seen what will happen if Truth Social doesn’t comply with the license.

The battle between Mastodon and Trump’s Truth Social is a reminder that while the internet has changed, the ideals of free software haven’t. That’s a problem. 


The expertise gap

Just about everyone knows how to drive a car. Very few of us know how to build one.

Seth Godin writes about how expertise has changed over the years.  

Folk wisdom is priceless. It’s the sum total of shared human experience, usually around our emotions. But folk wisdom is not the same as folk expertise.

Everyone is entitled to feelings about things, but expertise is earned.

Some people are at a higher risk for Zoom fatigue. Here’s what you can do.

new study recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology showed that women and newer employees were more likely to feel exhausted by too much time on video calls. The reason helps to both illuminate the causes of Zoom fatigue and how we can all avoid it.

Simply stating that you support the right of your employees to choose when they switch on the camera, cutting unnecessary meetings, and making sure to schedule adequate breaks between calls can go a long way toward preventing burnout and getting the best out of others.

Everyone is entitled to feelings about things, but expertise is earned.

Seth Godin

Intrigued by the the SOFA principle after reading about it in Doug Belshaw’s recent Weeknote.

SOFA stands for Start Often Finish rArely or Start Often F*@k Achievements

SOFA is the name of a hacker/art collective, and also the name of the principle upon which the club was founded. The point of SOFA club is to start as many things as possible as you have the ability, interest, and capacity to, with no regard or goal whatsoever for finishing those projects.

Say hey at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Let’s Keep It FRKE

Welcome back all. Digitally Literate, issue #311.

This week I helped post the following:

  • Towards a Taxonomy of Transdisciplinarity – This paper is being presented at the upcoming LRA 2021 Conference. Our STEAM research team had pre-service teachers develop curriculum guided by transdisciplinary thinking as they created connections between math and music for a summer art camp.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Reach out and say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

All About Spoons

You’d be forgiven for wondering, as an adult, why Mister Rogers carries a spoon. As detailed in a new book, (When You Wonder, You’re Learning: Mister Rogers’ Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids), the journey — from a simple Point A (a spoon) to a deeply human Point B — embodies the magic of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

The effect is that for children, spoons become more than passing intrigues. They become musical instruments, a spark for artistic expression, and even possible career paths. Most importantly, they become points of connection between kids and caring adults. As science has shown, the more of these connections kids have, the better they tend to do.

On Podcasts and Radio, Misleading Covid-19 Talk Goes Unchecked

False statements about vaccines have spread on the “Wild West” of media, even as some hosts die of virus complications.

Evan Greer points out: sadly, most of the “solutions” to this problem are way worse than the problem itself. do people really want deeply flawed AI to listen to every podcast and watch every video uploaded to the Internet, making determinations about what we shouldn’t see/hear?


Robots vs. Fatbergs: High-Tech Approaches to America’s Sewer Problem

Cash-strapped U.S. cities are turning to drones, artificial intelligence, and other innovations to help inspect and fix the country’s aging underground arteries of waste.

The arsenal includes flying drones, crawling robots, and remote-controlled swimming machines. They are armed with cameras, sonar, lasers, and other sensors, and in some cases with tools to remove obstructions, using water-jet cutters capable of slicing through concrete, tree roots, and the giant agglomerations of grease and personal-hygiene products known as fatbergs. Some can also fix leaking pipes using plastics that cure via ultraviolet light.

This sounds like the plot of the new Matrix movie.


An Interconnected Framework for Assessment of Digital Multimodal Composition

Ewa McGrail, Kristen Hawley Turner, Amy Piotrowski, Kathryn Caprino, Lauren Zucker, and Mary Ellen Greenwood present a framework for creating and assessing digital multimodal compositions.

They define the domains that support the development of specific criteria for assessment of digital multimodal writing: (1) audience, (2) mode and meaning, and (3) originality. This is important as we consider the differences and affordances of having students create a written essay, as opposed to a video, as opposed to a video game.

Interconnected framework for assessment of digital multimodal composition.

Faced with soaring Ds and Fs, schools are ditching the old way of grading

I’ve been thinking a bit about assessment practices in my classes. This recent piece in the LA Times shares the work of a high school English teacher Joshua Moreno as he explores the same process.

This trend has been accelerated by the pandemic & school closures that caused troubling increases in Ds and Fs across the U.S. & by calls to examine the role of institutionalized racism in schools in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd by an officer.


Lego Customers Lose Millions of Pieces a Year. The Company’s 4-Word Response Is the Best I’ve Ever Seen

The LEGO Group has four words that guide all customer service interactions over the last 15 years.

According to Monika Lütke-Daldrup, the company’s director of customer engagement, “We have something that we call freaky. Freaky stands for FRKE, which is short for:

  • fun
  • reliable
  • knowledgeable
  • engaging

Are You Problem Solving or Ruminating?

As human beings, we have the capacity to reflect on our past behaviors. Unfortunately, there are many times in which going over the past becomes quite unproductive. The post above discusses how can we know if we are engaging in adaptive self-reflection or maladaptive rumination?

Rumination is sometimes viewed as a negative form of emotional processing.

The defining aspect of rumination that differentiates it from regular problem-solving is the unproductively negative focus it takes. Rumination may involve going over the details of a situation in one’s head or talking to friends about it.

As a general rule, the following can be indicators that you may have fallen into the trap of rumination:

  • Focusing on a problem for more than a few idle minutes
  • Feeling worse than you started out feeling
  • No movement toward accepting and moving on
  • No closer to a viable solution

Listening is where love begins: listening to ourselves and then to our neighbors.

Fred Rogers

Starting to pay attention to Low-Code Software Maker WSO2 after they received $90 Million from Goldman Sachs. There are not enough skilled developers and engineers to build things so as technology skills demand grows, so does attention to low-code and no-code solutions.

Say hey at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

A Concentrated Set of Users

Hello friends! Welcome to Digitally Literate, issue #310.

This week I helped post the following:

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Reach out and say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

Climate Action Tracker: The state of the climate crisis in 2021

2021 is a critical year for climate change. According to the Paris Climate Agreement, governments must decide now on how to reduce the amount of carbon they pump into the atmosphere in order to avoid the most devastating consequences of global warming.

Are we on track to limit global warming to only 1.5 degrees Celsius? The Climate Action Tracker explains the good news and the bad news for the planet.

Here are all the Facebook Papers stories

We spent a little over a month covering the Facebook Files. We’re seeing this expand beyond the Wall Street Journal reporting to 17 news outlets shared articles based on what have become collectively known as The Facebook Papers — leaked company documents and memos, courtesy of whistleblower Frances Haugen.

Katie Harbath is maintaining a list of all the Facebook Papers stories. They paint a picture of Facebook that’s very different from what Mark Zuckerberg likes to say.

And yet, despite the bad press, profits at the company are better than ever. (ノ-_-)ノ ~┻━┻


Twitter Data Has Revealed A Coordinated Campaign Of Hate Against Meghan Markle

On Tuesday, Twitter analytics service Bot Sentinel released a report examining Twitter activity related to the Sussexes and found that the majority of the hate and misinformation about the couple originated from a small group of accounts whose primary purpose appears to be to tweet negatively about them. 83 accounts are responsible for 70% of the social media trolling directed at Meghan Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, on Twitter. Combined, the accounts have over 187,000 followers.

Why is this important? First, I have not reviewed the work or reports of Bot Sentinel up until now. Second, it is amazing the impact a small, but a concentrated set of users can have online.

The news is reminiscent of similar stats that point to how a small group of users can have an outsized effect — like how just twelve accounts have been found to be responsible for a large proportion of the vaccine misinformation on social media.


Help build an open source voice database

AI assistants like Siri and Alexa can be useful if you speak common languages like English and Spanish, less so if you speak any one of the 1,000 languages in Africa, or even just speak with a specific dialect or accent.

Want to do something about it?

Mozilla is making a database of voice samples so software developers can more easily include your language and accent, and build it in a way that makes sure no language is left behind. You can donate your voice to help build an open-source voice database that anyone can use to make innovative apps for devices and the web.

Read a sentence to help machines learn how real people speak. Check the work of other contributors to improve the quality. It’s that simple!


The Metaverse Is Already Here — It’s Minecraft

As Facebook rebrands to Meta, and Zuckerberg trots out a vision of the metaverse, Clive Thompson indicates that our kids are already building and playing in the metaverse.

The truth is, a thriving metaverse already exists. It’s incredibly high-functioning, with millions of people immersed in it for hours a day. In this metaverse, people have built uncountable custom worlds, and generated god knows how many profitable businesses and six-figure careers. Yet this terrain looks absolutely nothing the like one Zuckerberg showed off.

It’s Minecraft, of course.


A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

We knew this day would come.

We’ve covered deepfakes for some time here in this newsletter. Deepfakes began as users could take the face and voice of someone famous and overlay that onto a pre-existing video. Most of the early deepfakes began as AI-generated synthetic media was used to create pornographic representations of real people.

According to deepfake researcher Henry Adjer, a new web app lets anyone upload a photo of a person and, using deepfake technology, superimpose their face into an adult video.

So far, the app exists in “relative obscurity,” and the MIT Tech Review post above refers to the platform only as “Y,” in an attempt to avoid inadvertently launching it into the mainstream.

Intentionally cultivate self-compassion

Luckily, our level of self-compassion is not set in stone and it can be intentionally cultivated.

Being kinder to ourselves may give us a safe place to land, no matter where showing our vulnerability leads us. Then, we don’t need to have as much faith in the notion that everything will go smoothly if we share our struggles with others. We can have more trust in ourselves to handle the outcome either way.

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

Anne Lamott

Want your metaverse for group meetings? Check out Gather for relatively lo-fi graphics to keep it accessible to anyone with a modern web browser.

Let me know if I got anything wrong at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Fully Immersed In An Activity

Welcome back all! This is Digitally Literate, issue #309.

This week I post the following:

Last week I decided to unplug for a week as we had family come to visit for the weekend. It’s good to get back to keeping track of what’s happening in tech.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Reach out and say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

What is Flow Theory? What does this mean for our students?

Mihály Csíkszentmihályi passed away last week at the age of 88.

Besides being one of the world’s leading researchers on positive psychology, he was best known for introducing flow theory in the 1970s, defining it as a state of mind attained when one becomes fully immersed in an activity.

In an interview with Wired magazine, he described the concept as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

Mark Zuckerberg On Why Facebook is Rebranding to Meta

If you haven’t heard by now, Facebook is rebranding itself under the moniker of Meta. This is an allusion to the metaverse, which is one part definition, one part aspiration, one part hype.

Facebook suggests that this rebrand is an attempt to make it easier to differentiate between the different apps that exist under the company’s banner. I believe this rebrand is an attempt to move the discussion from their string of bad news over the last couple of weeks/months/years. This is also an opportunity to make $$$ and capture the market around an eventual metaverse.


Facebook Says AI Will Clean Up the Platform. Its Own Engineers Have Doubts.

I’m continuing to unpack the Facebook Files, A Wall Street Journal investigation. Facebook executives have long said that artificial intelligence would address the company’s chronic problems keeping what it deems hate speech and excessive violence as well as underage users off its platforms. According to the documents, those responsible for keeping the platform free from content Facebook deems offensive or dangerous acknowledge that the company is nowhere close to being able to reliably screen it.

“The problem is that we do not and possibly never will have a model that captures even a majority of integrity harms, particularly in sensitive areas,” wrote a senior engineer and research scientist in a mid-2019 note.

He estimated the company’s automated systems removed posts that generated just 2% of the views of hate speech on the platform that violated its rules. “Recent estimates suggest that unless there is a major change in strategy, it will be very difficult to improve this beyond 10-20% in the short-medium term,” he wrote.

This March, another team of Facebook employees drew a similar conclusion, estimating that those systems were removing posts that generated 3% to 5% of the views of hate speech on the platform, and 0.6% of all content that violated Facebook’s policies against violence and incitement.


Why Everyone Is So Rude Right Now

Re-entry into polite society is proving to be a little bumpy.

Some people may have thought that having been prevented from mingling with other humans for a period, folks would greet the return of social activity with hugs, revelry, and fellowship. Psychologists suggest that the long separation has made social interactions more fraught.

The combination of a contagious, life-threatening disease and a series of unprecedented, life-altering changes in the rules of human engagement has left people anxious, confused, and, especially if they do not believe the restrictions were necessary, deeply resentful.


The Frustration With Productivity Culture

Cal Newport with an interesting, reflective piece about his writings about the importance of deep work and the need to minimize distractions. Newport started receiving some pushback around his use of the term productivity.

He responded with this post on his blog, and then ultimately the piece in the New Yorker.

It is interesting to think about Newport’s question across these posts. Has the term “productivity” (and the culture surrounding productivity) outgrown its utility?


Please Unmute Your Mutt

Dog trainers are turning to video sessions to work with pets and their owners. For training techniques designed to socialize puppies and adjust canine behavior, there’s still no substitute for face-to-snout.

This is part of the Business Transformation series from the NY Times, which focuses on how the pandemic has changed how the world does business.

Make a Mini Graveyard Terrarium

I recently spent some time with the kids on our block making terrariums. This project looks like a perfect use case for my 3D printer.

The people are pieces of software called avatars. They are the audiovisual bodies that people use to communicate with each other in the Metaverse.

Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Please note, Neal Stephenson is the writer who coined the term “metaverse” 30 years ago in his novel Snow Crash. I loved Seveneves and will soon start Anathem. Stephenson’s newest novel is Termination Shock.

Let me know if I got anything wrong at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

For The Public Good

Welcome back all! This is Digitally Literate, issue #308.

This week I post the following:

  • From Crackpipes to Criteria to Critical Pedagogy – As I continue to unpack my experiences with ungrading, I’m sharing many of the comments, questions, and feedback I’ve recieved from the field.
  • The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin – Some great sci-fi that is situated in China’s Cultural Revolution. Asks whether science is truly objective and provable, or is it simply the best we can do given our limited understanding of four dimensions.

As I sit down to write this week’s issue, I’m learning about the sudden passing of two giants in the fields of digital literacy. Drs. Michele Knobel and David O’Brien. Much of Michele’s work was written with Colin Lankshear. These two not only framed most of my thinking about digital and new literacies, but they also published most of this content openly along the way while blogging about their work. They are one of the key reasons why I work the way that I do. Dave also inspired most of my work as he investigated digital and new literacy practices, especially as they connect to content area instruction. He informally mentored me throughout my career and framed most of my thinking and the words I use to express what I see.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Reach out and say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

How synthetic media, or deepfakes, could soon change our world

Synthetic media, better known as deepfakes, could be a goldmine for filmmakers. But the technology has already terrorized women who have had their faces inserted into pornography. And it could potentially disrupt society.

Several years ago, I first started writing about deepfakes here in this newsletter. I wasn’t sure if I should even write about this technology as it has its roots in pornography and revenge porn. I’m glad that I’ve been following this topic.

This Is The Hard Part Of Teaching. It’s Getting Harder.

Peter Greene writing about one of the key challenges involved in teaching. It is never enough.

There is never enough time. There are never enough resources. There is never enough you.

We ask teachers to do more with increasingly less. As the pandemic reverberates across society, we’ve asked teachers to put their lives on the line to serve us and our children. When they ask for safety in the form of virtual learning, vaccinations, testing, or masking policies, we mock and threaten them. We peer into their classrooms and demand to know what they’re teaching and think that we could do it better.

The teacher appreciation t-shirts, coffee shop gift cards, and exhortations of self-care do nothing.

Pay teachers. Treat them with respect. Treat teachers as a valuable natural resource.


Facebook’s Effort to Attract Preteens Goes Beyond Instagram Kids, Documents Show

I’m continuing to unpack the Facebook Files, A Wall Street Journal investigation. Internal Facebook documents reviewed show Facebook formed a team to study preteens, set a three-year goal to create more products for them, and commissioned strategy papers about the long-term business opportunities presented by these potential users. In one presentation, it contemplated whether there might be a way to engage children during playdates.

Facebook isn’t the only technology company to court children and face scrutiny for doing so. Virtually every major social media platform, including Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube, has confronted legal or regulatory problems related to how children use its products. Federal privacy law forbids data collection on children under 13, and lawmakers have criticized tech companies for not doing more to protect kids online from predators and harmful content.

“With the ubiquity of tablets and phones, kids are getting on the internet as young as six years old. We can’t ignore this and we have a responsibility to figure it out,” said a 2018 document labeled confidential. “Imagine a Facebook experience designed for youth.”


Without child care, work and family are impossible

Shauna Shames writes that there is no such thing as the so-called work/family conflict. This is not only a personal observation. Scholars have found that good jobs – full-time, with benefits – and family, without help, are simply incompatible.

Will the U.S. take something positive from this crisis by learning an enduring lesson about the power of child care? Americans tend to think of having children as an expensive, private choice. The alternative is to think of it as a public good. There are many potential options when child care is made a priority in a society.


Education Activist Dirk Tillotson Was as Real as They Come

Last week, Oakland education activist Dirk Tillotson was murdered in his home. In this piece Courtney Martin indicates that Tillotson described himself as the “patron saint of lost causes.”

Some great quotes from this piece:

“You gotta dig in where you can,” he says. “Don’t overthink it. Especially if it’s what the teachers want. Just don’t be an asshole.”

“Make sure the teachers know you’re not blaming anyone,” he goes on. “You’re there to help them get more support, more books, more partners.” 

“The system is the villain. It’s built to serve some kids and leave other kids behind. It’s life or death, not to sound too dramatic, but it is. That’s what we should be talking about.”

You can read more about Dirk’s work on his blog, Great School Voices, and donate to a Go Fund Me to support his family here.


How a video game chore became a storytelling technique for TV and movies

Sometimes the most memorable part of a video game, movie, or show isn’t the main story, it’s the weird tangent a character takes in the middle of their journey.

Sidequests might seem like an unnecessary addition to shows and movies, they’ve long been an intrinsic but loathed part of role-playing games. Sidequests have become an essential part of storytelling, whether it’s in games or films. And much like other popular RPG concepts, sidequests date back to the heyday of tabletop games.

8 Traits of the Entrepreneurial Mindset

Michael Hyatt on the not-so-linear path necessary to build perseverance and determination.

Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren literally wrote the book on reading. They identify four levels of reading:

  • Openness. See problems others don’t and fixate on challenges others dismiss.
  • Ownership. Don’t wait around for somebody else to solve the problems they observe. Find solutions and take the initiative.
  • Grayscale Thinking. See and make indirect connections, often from an adjacent field, and then take the risk of giving it a try.
  • Risk Tolerance. Push against the norm. Turning their vision to reality requires taking numerous risks. Failure might be inherent within risk, but it’s also a requirement for success.
  • Resilience. Bounce back after failure comes, especially when hitting roadblocks, naysayers, or a no when a yes is desperately needed.
  • Resourcefulness. Find clever and unusual ways to overcome difficulties or make the most of opportunities.
  • Patience. Stick with a problem long enough to solve it.
  • Belief. Believe in yourself, not just your work and solutions.

Time moves in one direction, memory in another.

William Gibson

Thanks again all. I’m off to figure out how to bake these blueberry cookies.

Let me know if I got anything wrong at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

I’m Doing Research

Welcome back all! This is Digitally Literate, issue #307. I hope you’re taking time out.

This week I post the following:

I also serve on the advisory board for BARWE. We’re in the second month of the latest inquiry series. This month we discuss how we can take action when doing anti-racist work in spite of real or perceived risks. If this is your first year doing this series, we recommend starting with an orientation meeting using the September 2021 material before moving on to the current month. 

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Reach out and say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

Hall and Nails – “I Can’t Get Closer for That”

Haven’t laughed this much at one of Bill McClintock’s mashups in quite a while.

Music used in this mashup:

  • Hall and Oates – I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)
  • Nine Inch Nails – Closer
  • Iron Maiden – Flight of the Icarus

How Facebook Hobbled Mark Zuckerberg’s Bid to Get America Vaccinated

We’re continuing to unpack the Facebook Files, A Wall Street Journal investigation. Company documents show Facebook knew it was “cesspools of anti-vaccine comments” and that they knew they needed to do something about it. Despite their problems with handling anti-vaxxer content, as the coronavirus vaccinations became available, Facebook made minimal or ineffectual efforts to address the issues and plays them down in public. Facebook has similarly struggled with how to handle the spread of inaccuracies on other issues, from QAnon conspiracy theories and other election falsehoods to hoax cancer cures and Holocaust denial.

Why is this important: One of the interesting pieces to take away from this reporting is the work that is happening as you use Facebook. You or a loved one may use Facebook to share photos, check in on others, and generally mean no ill will. You use the social network as your main media feed and trust what you’re reading as it is “shared by your friends.” In addition, as Facebook makes changes to any rules or structures in the community…you don’t really pay attention.

In truth, when Facebook makes changes, some individuals and groups are keenly aware of these changes and use the tools to their advantage to spread misinformation, continue astroturfing, seed doubt, and stir violence. This is disinformation by design.

What this looks like to you is an innocuous post that a friend shares with you with questions about vaccinations. You click on it and the algorithm pays attention. It shows you a couple more posts of the same type and you click on a couple…the algorithm feeds you some more. You then “conduct some research” and search online. You find a couple of groups that were set up ahead of time to handle your research interests. Suddenly, you’re caught in one of those cesspools.


TikTok’s algorithm leads users from transphobic videos to far-right rabbit holes

Before you start thinking that Facebook is the only place with cesspools of content….TikTok says “hold my drink.”

Olivia Little and Abbie Richards with some research on how TikTok’s algorithm took an account from transphobic videos to extremist videos in an alarmingly short amount of time.

The researchers created an account on TikTok and only engaged with content identified as transphobic. Transphobia is deeply intertwined with other kinds of far-right extremism, and TikTok’s algorithm only reinforces this connection. TikTok’s algorithm quickly picked up these signals and suggested content increasingly populated with videos promoting various far-right views and talking points.


Borrowed a School Laptop? Mind Your Open Tabs

When tens of millions of students suddenly had to learn remotely, many schools lent laptops and tablets to those without them. These devices typically come with monitoring software. This is generally viewed as a way to protect students and keep them on-task.

In one district, parents and teachers recognized that the monitoring software started closing some tabs. They soon learned that all of the district’s school-issued devices use Securly, student-monitoring software that lets teachers see a student’s screen in real-time and even close tabs if they discover a student is off-task. During class time, students were expected to have only two tabs open.

Now, some privacy advocates, parents, and teachers say that software created a new digital divide, limiting what some students could do and putting them at increased risk of disciplinary action.

There are certain groups of students, more likely those attending lower-income schools, who are going to be more reliant on school-issued devices and therefore be subject to more surveillance and tracking.” – Elizabeth Laird, Center for Democracy and Technology.


Here’s what I tell teachers about how to teach young students about slavery

Teaching slavery has been and will continue to be challenging. Raphael Rogers shares four things that can serve as strong guideposts for creating lessons that should make the challenge easier to navigate.

  • Explore actual records
  • Examine historical arguments
  • Highlight lived experiences
  • Consider the relevance

13 People Share the Habits They’re Bringing Back to the Office

As I’m beginning the transition back to face-to-face work after working from home for some time, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned…and what I’ll keep in my workflow. This post shares some actionable guidance.

  1. Plan out your week every Sunday
  2. Keep my essentials in a carryall zip pouch
  3. Use time blocking
  4. Eliminate meetings on Mondays and Fridays
  5. Write down the next day’s to-do list
  6. Wake up at the same time every morning
  7. Set intentions every morning
  8. Add personal appointments to your work calendar
  9. Go paperless
  10. Set an alarm to take a walk
  11. Eat smaller, more frequent meals
  12. Use the 45-second rule
  13. Get outside at least once a day

How to Read a Book

Thinking about reading more?

Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren literally wrote the book on reading. They identify four levels of reading:

  • Elementary Reading – This is how you were taught to read.
  • Inspectional Reading – Look at the author’s blueprint and evaluate the merits of a deeper reading experience.
  • Analytical Reading – A more through reading where you chew and digest the text.
  • Syntopical Reading – Identifying relevant passages, translating the terminology, framing and ordering the questions that need answering, defining the issues, and having a conversation with the text.

You can do anything but you don’t have to do everything.

A modification of the quote from David Allen.

I came across this visualization this week on Reddit. I’ve been trying to find the source to link to it…and worried it would be removed so I uploaded it for an archive. Enjoy. 🙂

Let me know if I got anything wrong at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Just Like Unicorns

Welcome back all! This is Digitally Literate, issue #306. Make sure you take time to rest and recharge your batteries.

This week I posted some of the following:

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Reach out and say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

How algorithms shape our world – Kevin Slavin

Kevin Slavin argues that we’re living in a world designed for — and increasingly controlled by — algorithms. In this riveting talk he shows how these complex computer programs determine espionage tactics, stock prices, movie scripts, and architecture.

Slavin also warns that we are writing code we can’t understand with implications we can’t control.

The Melting Face Emoji Has Already Won Us Over

I absolutely love using emoticons, emoji, and GIFs in my digital communications. (I would like to note that I just spent 30 minutes trying to figure out the plural of emoji).

At first, I felt foolish and didn’t think that it was appropriate for an English teacher, and literacy researcher to use these forms of text. That was until Doug Belshaw suggested that meaning and tone are often lost in text online. This text is often important to fill in emotional cues otherwise missing from typed conversation.

I’m loving this melting face emoji, and think it needs a permanent spot in my repertoire.

The article point out that the first emojis were created in 1999 by Shigetaka Kurita, who found inspiration in manga. The original set of 176 emojis is now part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art.


Facebook Employees Flag Drug Cartels and Human Traffickers. The Company’s Response Is Weak, Documents Show.

We’re continuing to unpack the Facebook Files, A Wall Street Journal investigation. Internal documents revealed that Facebook was aware of the platform being used by drug cartels and human traffickers in developing countries, but the social media giant did little to stop it.

In some countries, Facebook has limited people who speak the dialects needed to identify criminal uses of the platform. In these places it deems the harm as “simply the cost of doing business,” a former Facebook vice president said. One document also revealed that the company had suggested using “a light touch” with Arabic-language warnings about human trafficking so as not to “alienate buyers.”

It is an understatement to say that Facebook is very flawed. Kate Klonick asks what will we do about it?


What almost 150 studies say about how to motivate students

A meta-analysis of over 144 studies on sparking student motivation from elementary school through university suggest teachers are more influential than parents. Pathways to Student Motivation: A Meta-Analysis of Antecedents of Autonomous and Controlled Motivations, by Julien S. Bureau, Joshua L. Howard, Jane X. Y. Chong, & Frédéric Guay was published online in September 2021 in the Review of Educational Research. 

The concrete things that teachers can do may seem unrelated to student motivation at first glance….teachers listen to the thoughts and feelings of students and respond to them with empathy. Another suggestion is to explain rules and requirements so that students can understand why they’re being asked to do them. And he recommends that teachers give students choices and allow them to personalize assignments.


So You’ve Decided to Hate Greta Thunberg

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been following the events and news leading up to the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, UK, starting on October 31st.

As part of this, Greta Thunberg has received a lot of attention, especially for her “blah, blah, blah” comments.

What surprised me is the level of hate and vitriol adults have given this individual. I was listening to a discussion on the radio where the hosts proceeded to discuss the speech, and call Thunberg a number of horrible things. The hosts ultimately stopped to check her age to “see if she was old enough to say these things” and then continued on with their diatribe.

This post by James Fell in the Sweary History newsletter is the perfect response to individuals like this. Please note, you’ll see some bad words there.


Slow Down With These Serene City-Building Games

During these stressful times, more of us are playing video games than ever before. As a result, we’re seeing a “string of trance-like game experiences in recent years; slowly expanding towns lull the mind, alleviating stress in a manner altogether less frenetic than regular blockbuster titles.”

You might want check out IslandersTownscaperCloud Gardens, and Dorfromantik if you’re on Steam.

How to Easily Automate Your Tasks: 5 Useful Tools

You could, and should automate tasks or activities based on time, location, or anything else. Here’s the steps to follow. The post shares many of the tools I use on a daily basis.

  1. Write Down the Daily Tasks
  2. Research
  3. Find Out the New Workflow
  4. Execute the Plan
  5. Evaluate and Test

Join with all those who experiment, take risks, fall, get hurt, and then take more risks. Stay away from those who affirm truths, who criticize those who do not think like them, people who have never once taken a step unless they were sure they would be respected for doing so, and who prefer certainties to doubts.

Paulo Coelho

For those of you that haven’t been following me on Instagram, (archived here on Flickr or my website if you cannot stand Insta), I document meaningful words that I come across daily. Some of my favorite things to share is some of the stuff my kids say. I document it so I can remember the moments long after they’ve passed.

My daughter had a gem yesterday while sharing a story from school.

If you get reading in these areas, let me know at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

No Easy Silver Bullets

Welcome back to Digitally Literate. This is issue #305. I hope you’re all hydrating and taking time to make yourself smile.

I worked on a bunch of things in the back room. One of which is a revamp for one of the larger literacy research organizations that I serve. We’re busy revamping the website, and as part of this, I’m trying to have us bake in a blogging feed. 🙂

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Reach out and say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

Can YOU Fix Climate Change?

Never before in human history have we been richer, more advanced, or powerful. And yet we feel overwhelmed in the face of rapid climate change. It seems simple on the surface. So why don’t we just like…do it? Well, it’s complicated.

This video was supported by Gates Notes, the personal blog of Bill Gates, where he writes about global health, climate change, and more.

For more on climate change, these five climate scenarios show us what the future of the planet could look like.

File Not Found

The concept of file folders and directories, essential to previous generations’ understanding of computers, is gibberish to many modern students.

For people that grew up and remember the floppy disk, we think about the directory structure or the hierarchical system of folders that modern computer operating systems use to arrange files. We know that we have the “Downloads” folder or the “Desktop” folder, or the “Documents” folder. These are not an infinite expanse, these are all nested within “This PC” which also has many other folders nested within that.

Mental models have changed as people get accustomed to limitless data and content streams in social media and document storage systems (DropBox, OneDrive, Google Drive). Ultimately, the physical placement of content doesn’t matter, that is to say, that it is stored on a computer somewhere. What matters is that it is accessible in a certain basket.

People now view their documents and any organizational system as a laundry basket full of laundry, and they have a robot who will fetch them every piece of clothing they want on demand.

Everything is in the laundry basket.


Facebook Tried to Make Its Platform a Healthier Place. It Got Angrier Instead.

I’m slowly unpacking the Facebook Files, A Wall Street Journal investigation. This week we’ll focus on internal memos showing how a big 2018 change rewarded outrage and that CEO Mark Zuckerberg resisted proposed fixes.

In an attempt to boost “meaningful social interactions”, or MSI, Facebook tweaked the algorithm to strengthen bonds between users and improve their well-being. Across the industry, we saw groups like Google and Apple focus more on screentime in an attempt to help users think about their interactions with these devices.

This was motivated by the work of Tristan Harris and ultimately the Center for Humane Technology.

For Facebook, the logic was that MSI would encourage people to interact more with friends and family and spend less time passively consuming professionally produced content, which research suggested was harmful to their mental health. Publically, Facebook indicated it was making these changes for user wellbeing. These latest reports from the Facebook Files suggest it was really because users started to interact less with the platform, a worrisome trend to say the least.

Ultimately, what happened is that the most divisive, most incendiary content went viral. Publishers were incentivized to produce content that was divisive. Salacious content sells. Safe content is boring.

These latest documents show that Facebook’s research team showed that the MSI changes were not driving meaningful social interactions, instead they were fostering racial divisions, beliefs in fads, junk science, and extremely disturbing news. When Facebook learned this, they were dealing with the fallout from the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections and its supposed role in shaping public discourse. Facebook leadership decided to ignore the research and do nothing to address the situation. They didn’t want to harm growth…and didn’t want to appear political and lean to one side or the other.

In an internal training video, one Facebook employee said that in addition to the company’s “ethical duty” not to turn users into zombies with too much video, it had business reasons for intervening.

“People will probably leave the app if it’s bad for them,” the employee said.


An Experiment to Stop Online Abuse Falls Short in Germany

Harassment and abuse are all too common on the modern internet. But it was supposed to be different in Germany. In 2017, the country enacted one of the world’s toughest laws against online hate speech.

It required Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to remove illegal comments, pictures, or videos within 24 hours of being notified about them or risk fines of up to 50 million euros, or $59 million. Supporters hailed it as a watershed moment for internet regulation and a model for other countries.

With its history of Nazism, Germany has long tried to balance free speech rights against a commitment to combat hate speech. Among Western democracies, the country has some of the world’s toughest laws against incitement to violence and hate speech. Targeting religious, ethnic, and racial groups is illegal, as are Holocaust denial and displaying Nazi symbols in public.

Despite having one of the world’s toughest laws against online hate speech and harassment, Germany has struggled to contain toxic content ahead of its Sept. 26 election.


The Educational Power—and the Limits—of Personalized Children’s Books

A great piece in Scientific American by the brilliant Natalia Kucirkova.

The pandemic saw an increased demand for stories that excite children in new ways as well as support them in processing difficult emotions. Personalized books, or print or digital books that have been tailored to a specific child, fit this need well. They come with adjustment options and interactivity and allow parents to populate the text with children’s data.

Reading materials individually tailored to young people can boost engagement and learning, but discerning what works is an ongoing challenge. The focus should be on the interaction between child and care-giver. Talk to your children about all media they consume.


How these US schools reopened without sparking a covid outbreak

Despite the headlines, many school districts managed to bring most students back to classrooms last year without sparking a dreaded covid outbreak. How did they do it?

betsy ladyzhets researched five of these communities, and shared 11 lessons learned on the COVID-19 Data Dispatch.

  • Collaboration with the public health department is key
  • Community partnerships can fill gaps in school services
  • Communication with parents should be preemptive and constant
  • Require masks, and model good masking for kids
  • Regular testing can prevent cases from turning into outbreaks
  • Improve ventilation and hold classes outside where possible
  • Schools may still be focusing too much on cleaning
  • Give agency to parents and teachers in protecting their kids
  • We need more granular data to drive school policies
  • Invest in school staff and invite their contributions to safety strategies
  • Allow students and staff the space to process pandemic hardship

Strategic Starfish

Some great guidance from Laura Hilliger and the team at We Are Open Co-op.

The Strategic Starfish is an exercise to think about the little to-dos but also bigger goals as you complete MOAR work.

Every new technology goes through a phase of euphoria, followed by a phase of retrenchment. Automobiles were a fantastic replacement for horses, but as their numbers increased it became clear that they had their own health and cleanliness issues. The same is true of the internet.

Hal Varian

In an attempt to make sense of digital wellbeing for this issue, I fell down into a rabbit hole trying to understand this state of personal wellbeing experienced through the healthy use of digital technology. This resource from Paul Marsden helped.

I also listened to almost everything I could from HEALTH after this post popped up in my reading feed. Experimental noise rock with Trent Reznor and NIN in their origin story? Yes please.

Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0. is haunting, ethereal, grainy, & dystopic. A perfect way to close this issue. 🙂

If you get reading in these areas, let me know at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

A Better Way To Count

Hi all! Welcome back to Digitally Literate. This is issue #304.

I worked on a couple of things in the background. One of which was an application for funding to open a STEAM Education and Research Center. We’ll learn more this week and I need to attend a Technical Assistance Workshop where the Commission on Higher Education tells us what they’ll fund. More to come soon.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Reach out and say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

Coping With Stress & Caring for Mental Health During COVID-19

Coronavirus is affecting all of us. It’s taking a toll on our mental health and psychological well-being. This video from the Stanford Center for Health Education is a good starting point for discussions.

I also value this video from the International Committee of the Red Cross and this video from Osmosis.

A Detroit community college professor is fighting Silicon Valley’s surveillance machine. People are listening.

This week we celebrate Chris Gilliard. Anytime Chris writes something, it is a mandatory read and inclusion in this newsletter.

Take some time this weekend to skim through this great Twitter thread compiled by Charles Logan.

Chris Gilliard grew up with racist policing in Detroit. He sees a new form of oppression in the tech we use every day.

Chris Gilliard poses for a photo at his home in Dearborn, Michigan on July 30. The teacher at Macomb Community College tries to keep his face off of the Internet as much as possible.


Facebook Says Its Rules Apply to All. Company Documents Reveal a Secret Elite That’s Exempt.

I’ve slowly been digging into the Facebook Files, A Wall Street Journal investigation. Each week in this newsletter we’ll slowly unpack these stories and add some context.

A program, known as “cross check” or “XCheck,” was initially intended as a quality-control measure for actions taken against high-profile accounts, including celebrities, politicians, and journalists. Today, it shields millions of VIP users from the company’s normal enforcement process. Some users are “whitelisted”—rendered immune from enforcement actions—while others are allowed to post rule-violating material pending Facebook employee reviews that often never come.

“We are not actually doing what we say we do publicly,” said the confidential review. It called the company’s actions “a breach of trust” and added: “Unlike the rest of our community, these people can violate our standards without any consequences.”

Facebook is not actually doing what they say publicly. Facebook routinely makes exceptions for powerful actors. This problem is pervasive, touching almost every area of the company.


Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show

More from the Facebook Files.

For the past three years, Facebook has been conducting studies into how its photo-sharing app affects its millions of young users. Repeatedly, the company’s researchers found that Instagram is harmful to a sizable percentage of them, most notably teenage girls.

In public, Facebook has consistently played down the app’s negative effects on teens and hasn’t made its research public or available to academics or lawmakers who have asked for it.

Craig Silverman points out in this thread that people inside Facebook try to enact real change but ultimately are shut down by leadership and culture at the top of the organization. Growth, revenue, and public image all win out…over what is best for the humans using the social network.


It’s not the ‘Great Resignation’ but the ‘Great Reprioritization’

Some 4 million people quit their jobs in April. But the spike in the quit rate is partly due to pent-up demand after two years of employees sitting tight during a volatile economic environment. We’re also relatively on-trend with respect to the rising quit rate over the last decade.

Scott Dust with research suggesting that employees might be reprioritizing their lives, and employment status based on the following categories.

Five reasons that would likely cause an employee to begin a search:

  • Financial needs: The compensation is not competitive.
  • Work–home balance: The work is so demanding you don’t have enough time or energy left to enjoy non-work activities.
  • Remote work policies: Misalignment in remote work preferences and organizational policies.
  • Current job disinterest: You don’t like the day-to-day tasks of your job.
  • Concern about job and organization stability: You are worried your job might go away.

Five reasons that would be the least likely to spur a job search:

  • Stagnation: There are limited opportunities for moving up in the organization.
  • Need for autonomy. The job/organization doesn’t allow you to make your own decisions.
  • Lack of growth: There are limited opportunities to be challenged or learn something new.
  • Inclusion or belonging: You don’t feel like part of the “in group” or you don’t feel like your uniqueness is appreciated.
  • Social impact: You don’t connect with the value that your organization is offering to customers or society at large.

How finger counting gives away your nationality

It’s no coincidence that we have 10 digits on our hands and the most common number systems have 10 digits. This way of counting (called a base 10 system) probably arose because we have 10 fingers. If we had evolved with 8 or 12 fingers, our number system might be quite different. And the word “digit” in the sense of numerals comes from the Latin digitus, meaning finger or toe – because of the way we use them to count.

But it turns out that people around the world have vastly different techniques for keeping track of numbers on their hands.

It’s a Good Day to Update All Your Devices. Trust Us

iOS, Windows, and Chrome all have zero-day vulnerabilities that hackers are going after. Now that the fixes are here, you need to install them ASAP.

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed a zero-click attack known as Forced Entry in this newsletter. Citizen Lab points out that this attack was primarily focused on political dissidents, but that will not stop you from getting targeted at some point.

Go add your security patches now.

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside while still alive. Never surrender.

Tupac Shakur

Lately, I’ve been reading up on the latest books about how and why COVID-19 crushed us. Here are some book reviews by Alex Tabarrok to get you going.

I’m enjoying The Premonition right now. I love everything by Michael Lewis, so this is an easy recommendation.

Next up is Uncontrolled Spread and then Nightmare Scenario.

If you get reading in these areas, let me know at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.