Archive

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.

Ecological Harmonization of Humans With Everything Non-human

Hi all! Welcome back to Digitally Literate. This is issue #303.

This was a wild and bumpy week. 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.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

UDL is an inclusive pedagogical framework. In this video, John Spencer shares the basics of UDL and a few practical ideas for implementing it

This is one of the best overviews of UDL that I have ever seen (and I have looked at a lot!) The video is a great resource for providing clarity about such an important framework and doing it in a way that is approachable and accessible.

KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor

Long-time reader and friend Bryan Alexander shared this resource from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). It is interesting to unpack the public’s attitudes and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations.

The unvaccinated tend to be younger adults Are younger, less educated, Republicans, with significant differences about whether they’ll get the vaccine at any point.

When we think about parents in the pandemic, the results are even more interesting. Four In Ten Parents Of Children Ages 12 To 17 Say Their Child Has Received At Least One Dose Of The COVID-19 Vaccine. Four In Ten Parents Of Children Under 12 Say They Want To “Wait And See” Before Getting Their Child Vaccinated.


Brazil’s Restrictive New Social Media Rules Could Be an Omen For the Future of the Internet

Brazil’s new rules appear to be the first in the world to make certain types of content takedowns illegal under national law, even as other national governments around the world implement rules that force social media companies to take down more types of content proactively.

“Such an approach would essentially be a political decision to move in the direction of an Internet with even more vitriol and toxicity which, of course, is often directed primarily against women, minorities, and people with political views that sway from the mainstream.” – Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University.


How to Deal With the Dark Side of Social Media

Michael Bérubé on comprehensive guides to defending faculty and staff members and students from trolls and outrage addicts online. I was sent this post by Verena Roberts.

Bérubé references the Faculty Support Safety Guidance from the University of Iowa and the Social Media Support and Resources from Penn State.

This is something that absolutely every single person in academia (especially administrators) should read. Every single campus should develop one if they do not have one.


Automated hiring software is mistakenly rejecting millions of viable job candidates

Companies Need More Workers. Why Do They Reject Millions of Résumés?

A new report says automated systems are hurting the US labor market.

Over-reliance on software in the hiring world seems to have created a vicious cycle. Digital technology was supposed to make it easier for companies to find suitable job candidates, but instead, it’s created a new series of problems.

A new Harvard Business School study found inflexible automated recruiting tools and training gaps keep prospects “hidden,” as well as a mindset that “hiring hidden workers is an act of charity or corporate citizenship, rather than a source of competitive advantage.” The researchers say companies that develop customized hiring strategies will benefit from new pipelines of talent.


How to Build a Bigger Following on Twitch

Twitch, is a video live streaming service that focuses on video game live streaming, including broadcasts of esports competitions. In addition, it offers music broadcasts, creative content, and more recently, “in real life” streams.

Building an audience is more of a content game than a numbers one. Focus on the former, and the latter will come.

  • Don’t fixate on numbers, but do focus on content
  • Participate on the platform with others
  • Collaborate with other streamers outside your lane
  • Be as consistent as you can
  • Know how to promote yourself elsewhere, especially in advance of streaming

A neuroscientist shares the 6 exercises she does every day to build resilience and mental strength

Wendy Suzuki offers the following guidance:

  • Visualize positive outcomes
  • Turn anxiety into progress
  • Try something new
  • Reach out
  • Practice positive self-tweeting
  • Immerse yourself in nature

If that doesn’t work for you, check out this sage advice on pandemic living from a long-forgotten, and very long, 18th-century poem.

If you’re too bright for others, they’ll try to find some shade.

Lisa Nichols

The smartest person in any room anywhere’: in defence of Elon Musk, by Douglas Coupland.

This post made the rounds in my circles online. I really like the closing statement:

I think the biggest difference between the 20th century and the 21st is that in the 20th century you were able to see “the future” in your head. There were new ways of envisioning, say, an information utopia – or an ecological harmonisation of humans with everything non-human. But here in the 21st century we’re only able to possibly glimpse a small workable future, and even then only if we work at it incredibly hard. That’s a huge difference in looking at what lies down the road.

Contact me at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Tolerance for Discomfort

Hi all! Welcome back to Digitally Literate. This is issue #302.

I worked on a bunch of things in the background. I hope you’re taking some time this weekend to recharge and make you feel good.

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.

Is Mycelium Fungus the Plastic of the Future?

Plastic changed the course of manufacturing forever, but came at a cost. Mycelium technology might be the solution and the next big boom. A plastic-like replacement with so many uses and new opportunities for products, companies, and profits. The Undecided with Matt Ferrell explores mycelium technology and how it can help us achieve a more renewable and cleaner future.

Read more here.

Australia is becoming a surveillance state

The Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020 gives the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) three new powers for dealing with online crime:

  1. Data disruption warrant: gives the police the ability to “disrupt data” by modifying, copying, adding, or deleting it.
  2. Network activity warrant: allows the police to collect intelligence from devices or networks that are used, or likely to be used, by those subject to the warrant
  3. Account takeover warrant: allows the police to take control of an online account (e.g. social media) for the purposes of gathering information for an investigation.

The two Australian law enforcement bodies, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) will soon have the power to modify, add, copy, or delete your data should you become a suspect in the investigation of a serious crime.


The New Puritans

How much intellectual life is now stifled because of fear of what a poorly worded comment would look like if taken out of context and spread on Twitter?

This seems like an opportunity to remember that “Twitter is not real life.” For the vast majority of people who aren’t public figures with a large social media following, “cancel culture” has no real effect on their lives for good or bad.

But, we should be aware that for a small minority it does matter, and we should pay attention when anyone is silenced. At the core of all of it is the idea that we can guarantee equal outcomes for all individuals. It’s much more complicated problem that some make it out to be.

One quote sticks out to me in particular.

What many of these people—the difficult ones, the gossipy ones, the overly gregarious ones—have in common is that they make people uncomfortable. Here, too, a profound generational shift has transpired. “I think people’s tolerance for discomfort—people’s tolerance for dissonance, for not hearing exactly what they want to hear—has now gone down to zero,” one person told me. “Discomfort used to be a term of praise about pedagogy—I mean, the greatest discomforter of all was Socrates.”

The brilliance in these culture wars is that we can’t help ourselves but engage. It’s a solid strategy for groups to focus themselves, and identify an enemy.


On Mirrors, Windows, and Telescopes

A brilliant piece by Stephanie Toliver extending a literary metaphor to better understand the intersection between reality and possibility.

In her groundbreaking piece “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors,” Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop explored how books can transform the human experience and reflect it back to the reader (mirrors), how texts can offer views of real, imagined, strange, or familiar worlds (windows), and how literature can enable readers to walk through the printed text and become part of the world created by the author (sliding glass doors).

Toliver adds the following:

Through telescopes, children—especially those whose access to futures and fantasies has been distorted by violence and oppression—will be able to see that those futuristic and fantastical landscapes are actually closer than they first appeared to be.


Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Resources for Teaching About Digital Culture

A great resource with insight from thought leaders, books, articles, videos and podcasts on the following topics:


Why We Shout During an Argument (and Why It’s Not Effective)

Vanessa Bohns, a professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University, wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “[W]hile we often are overconfident in our beliefs, the tendency to shout—whether over our neighbors, friends, or adversaries—comes from underconfidence in our ability to convince others.”

Instead of yelling, gentle persuasion tends to be the most effective. Pointing out the disconnect between what a person thinks and says versus what a person does, or what they recommend for others versus themselves.

Another strategy is to ask questions, to get someone to articulate what their thoughts and views are, which is a way of getting them to engage in the topic, and think it through.

How to navigate covid news without spiraling

As the pandemic changes so quickly, there’s a better way to think about getting and sharing the information you need.

  • Beware the “scariant”-industrial complex
  • Information changes, and that’s okay
  • Focus on what’s most useful

The problem is not people being uneducated.

The problem is that people are educated just enough to believe what they have been taught, and not educated enough to question anything from what they have been taught.

Richard Feynman

I’m a Luddite. You should be one too. 🙂

Come BS with me at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Watching Robots

Hi all! Welcome back to Digitally Literate. This is issue #301.

This week I published 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.

Don’t Be a Sucker – 1947

In this anti-fascist film produced by the US Military in the wake of WWII, the producers deconstruct the politically motivated social engineering of Germany by the Nazi regime.

Read more here.

The School Culture Wars: ‘You Have Brought Division to Us’

From mask mandates to critical race theory and gender identity, educators are besieged. “You are just trying to keep everything from collapsing,” one official said.

Schools were already facing a crisis of historic proportions. They are reopening just as a highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus is tearing through communities. They need to create a safe environment for teachers and students while helping children who have been through major trauma.

But at this critical moment, many school officials find themselves engulfed in highly partisan battles, which often have distracted from the most urgent issues.


Parents Are Not Okay

Parents aren’t even at a breaking point anymore. We’re broken. And yet we’ll go on because that’s what we do: We sweep up all our pieces and put them back together as best we can. We carry on chipped and leaking and broken because we have no other choice. And we pray that if we can just keep going, our kids will survive too.


A new study reveals what we can learn about how to persuade people by watching robots

A new study reveals what we can learn about how to persuade people by watching robots.
Experiments with swarms of robots have shown that sporadic social interactions can increase the spread of newly discovered information, compared to sharing the information with all members of a group at once.


9 apps to help kids sharpen their coding skills

Coding is a skill that’s now part of just about every discipline — and what’s more, it’s fun for kids to learn, and easy for parents and teachers to add to lessons at home or school.

As kids get ready to go back to school…here’s a great list of apps and platforms to build these skills.

How to talk to vaccine-hesitant people

Not all unvaccinated folks are anti-vaxxers. As Zeynep Tufekci points out, many of these individuals are in the movable middle. Kindness and non-judgmentalism will get you far when talking to them.

  • Check your biases at the door
  • See if the person is open to the conversation
  • Be kind, or at least civil
  • Identify the obstacle
  • Consider the humble text
  • Tailor your argument to the person

The sun is new each day.

Heraclitus

Greetings Earthlings! Outkast – Two Dope Boyz (In a Cadillac) (Animated Music Video)

Come BS with me at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

A Digital Master Key

WELCOME

Welcome to the 300th issue of this newsletter. I’m not sure if it means anything, but it’s been fun to keep researching and writing this content each week.

We’ve got some changes coming soon…but for now we’ll let me thank you for being steady readers and reaching out to say hey when you get a chance.

I’m taking the next two weeks off from this newsletter. Just a bit of a break to recharge and enjoy the family. See you on the other side. 🙂

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.

Watch

The Mandalorian Luke Skywalker Deepfake

 

Often when we talk about deepfakes, it often circles back to misinformation and revenge. Thankfully, in this story…we’re talking Star Wars.

One artist’s rendition of deepfake Luke Skywalker was so good that they were ultimately hired by Industrial Light and Magic, the artists that work on actual Star Wars.

Read

States say they will appeal the dismissal of their Facebook antitrust suit

Last month a U.S. federal judge threw out two antitrust lawsuits made against Facebook. The judge failed to see how Facebook was a monopoly.

Forty state attorney generals disagree and plan on appealing the decision. According to New York attorney general Letitia James: “We can no longer allow Facebook to profit off of exploiting consumer data.”

Ban Facial Recognition in Stores

When you think of facial recognition, you most likely expect it at places like the airport. Do you think it’s appropriate when you’re spending some time out shopping?

Rebecca Heilweil reports that some of the most popular stores in the U.S. like Albertsons, Macy’s and even Apple Stores are using facial recognition on their customers.

On July 14, Fight for the Future helped launch a nationwide campaign to document which of the country’s biggest retailers are deploying facial recognition, and which ones have committed to not use the technology. The campaign, which has the support of more than 35 human rights groups, aims to draw attention to retail stores using facial-scanning algorithms to boost their profits, intensify security systems, and even track their employees.

Amazon’s mission: Getting a ‘key’ to your apartment building

Amazon is pushing landlords around the country to give its drivers the ability to unlock apartment building front doors whenever they need to leave packages in the lobby instead of the street.

The service, called Amazon Key for Business, allows delivery workers to make their rounds faster since they don’t have to ring doorbells. And fewer stolen packages could give Amazon an edge over other online retailers.

But…is this what we want?

The device is connected to the internet, which could make it vulnerable to hackers. Tenants may not know that Amazon drivers have access to their building’s front doors.

Hundreds of Ways to Get S#!+ Done—and We Still Don’t

You want to be productive. Software wants to help. But even with a glut of tools claiming to make us all into taskmasters, we almost never master our tasks.

There is a big disjoint between the tasks people planned to do and the tasks they actually did.

A Soviet psychologist named Bluma Zeigarnik, became fascinated by this phenomenon. Zeigarnik found a quirk of the human mind: When a task is unfinished, we can’t seem to stop thinking about it. We perseverate.

Whatever the cause, today this is known as the Zeigarnik effect, and psychologists who study task management say it’s part of why so many of us feel perpetually frazzled by the challenge of organizing work and life.

Brains Might Sync As People Interact — and That Could Upend Consciousness Research

When we cooperate on certain tasks, our brainwaves might synchronize. This finding could upend the current understanding of consciousness.

Some recent research in neuroscience argues that a shift in our understanding of consciousness is warranted. Specifically, we might see an ‘extension of consciousness’.

we know that an individual’s neural activity is embodied in their interactions with the world. Now, we think that other people may play a role.

Do

How to Breathe

Believe it or not, most of us breathe incorrectly.
breathe

The most efficient way to breathe is by bringing the air down toward the belly. As the diaphragm contracts, the belly expands to fill the lungs with air.

“Belly breathing” is efficient because it pulls the lungs downward, creating negative pressure inside the chest. This brings air into the lungs.
bellybreath

Discuss

consider

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.

George Bernard Shaw

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Human society is on track for a collapse in the next two decades if there isn’t a serious shift in global priorities, according to a new reassessment of a 1970s report.

Come BS with me at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Digital Robber Barons

WELCOME

This week I published the following:

  • Create a Personal Webpage Using GitHub Pages & Jekyll – This week we had the last year of our professional development focused on infusing computational thinking into middle and high school classrooms. I taught a breakout session focused on building simple webpages using GitHub Pages.
  • What will digital life be like in 2035? – My insights about the evolution of digital spaces and whether or not there will be improvements in the coming years when it comes to the overall good of society.

My post above was a response to a survey request from the Pew Research Center and Elon University. As a regular reader of this newsletter…you’re more than qualified to respond. Here’s your chance.

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.

Watch

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger – Daft Punk

I don’t know how the YouTube algorithm took this long to bring me the Scary Pockets YouTube Channel…but I am thankful.

I watched almost all of the videos on the channel with the family this week.

Read

Private Israeli spyware used to hack cellphones of journalists, activists worldwide

Human rights activists, journalists, and lawyers across the world have been targeted by authoritarian governments using hacking software sold by the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group.

Pegasus is malware that infects iPhones and Android devices to enable operators of the tool to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls, and secretly activate microphones.

The leak contains a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers that, it is believed, have been identified as those of people of interest by clients of NSO since 2016.

The Pegasus Project reports that journalists, activists, and heads of state could have been infiltrated.

 

This tool tells you if NSO’s Pegasus spyware targeted your phone.

The Absurd Proposal to Put Bodycams on Teachers Is … Feasible?

The idea to monitor educators so they don’t teach critical race theory seems ridiculous. But schools are already rife with invasive surveillance.

As outlandish as the body camera proposal is, we’ve already spent years shifting the Overton Window of acceptability in favor of more invasive surveillance in schools.

The proposal is insulting, exhausting, and un-American, but it is not impossible. One Texas school district’s facial recognition system is capable of capturing a single student’s image more than 1000 times a week.

How Tech Won the Pandemic and Now May Never Lose

As the world reeled, tech titans supplied the tools that made life and work possible. Now the companies are awash in money — and questions about what it means to win amid so much loss.

How to manage feedback on your open project

When you post content openly online and ask for feedback…you just may get it.

The brilliant Laura Hilliger and her team are working on a definition for open leadership.

The team is using a Google Doc to keep track of comments and identify how they’ve addressed changes. I value how the team has developed and documented their process openly.

The Neuroscience of Taking Turns in a Conversation

Research in birds suggests that when one partner speaks, the other partner’s brain is inhibited from talking over them.

Findings also suggest that when individuals are interacting in a shared behavior they act as a single entity. This concept is important for any group of organisms cooperating to produce a shared behavior that is more than the sum of its parts; for example, people dancing the tango, or several people playing in band. To coordinate behavior, the brains of all participants must link together to become a single unit.

Do

Building YouTube Shorts, a new way to watch & create on YouTube

YouTube released their version of TikTok this week.

Shorts is a new short-form video experience for creators and artists who want to shoot short, catchy videos using nothing but their mobile phones.

Discuss

consider

Think outside the box, collapse the box, and take a fucking sharp knife to it.

Banksy

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Before getting off of the bus, this little girl told the bus driver that “Shake It Off” was her favorite song, so he stopped everything he was doing, turned the radio up, and preceded to absolutely jam out with her.

Come BS with me at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Imagined New Worlds

WELCOME

This week I published the following:

  • There Are Always Two Paths – There are always two paths. The darker heavier path, or the lighter easier path. You can always choose to make something already hard worse by your response, or you can choose to make it easier by a different response.
  • Thank You. I’m Sorry. – Thinking about language and my daily interactions with culturally diverse communities and individuals.

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

Watch

Misinformation around COVID-19, vaccines an ‘urgent threat,’ surgeon general says

Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general, called on social media companies and politicians to take more responsibility, saying misinformation threatens the nation’s health.

Much of my original line of research focused on the critical evaluation of online information. In this, there was always in the back of my mind thought about how this was primarily an academic exercise. But, I knew that this could turn deadly if we focused on health information.

Read

Can We Imagine a Better Internet?

On 17 June 2021, over 40 participants from all over the world joined the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy for a workshop exploring ‘the cost of convenience’ and the opaque impact that digital technology has on the environment.

This visual representation below shares some of the responses collected in the sessions.
convenience

In order to understand and better address the environmental consequences of digital tech, researchers need to be more clear about the concepts we use but also to be more open to the experiences of individuals and communities on the ground who often ‘know better’ since they live (and occasionally also cause) the very consequences of tech we research.

Why Is the Country Panicking About Critical Race Theory?

The battles over Critical Race Theory (CRT) are raging. So…what is CRT?

Critical race theorists tend to share several key assumptions, as Janel George, a law professor at Georgetown, explains at the American Bar Association website:

  • Race is not a biological fact but a social construction.
  • Racism is not aberrational but an inherited, ordinary feature of society.
  • Racial hierarchy is primarily the product of systems, not individual prejudice.
  • Racial progress is accommodated only to the extent that it converges with the interests of white people.
  • Lived experience, not just data, constitutes relevant evidence to scholarship.

Treatment for gun injuries costs more than $1 billion a year, federal watchdog says

In a groundbreaking report released on Wednesday, a federal watchdog estimated that the cost of medical treatment for survivors of gun injuries in the United States amounts to at least $1 billion each year, but is likely much higher.

The report provides shocking new evidence of how gun violence strains our health care system and disproportionately harms historically marginalized communities in the United States.

Students’ abilities to evaluate the credibility of online texts: The role of internet-specific epistemic justifications

Elina K. Hämäläinen, Carita Kiili, Eija Räikkönen, and Miika Marttunen with some interesting research about critical evaluation of online texts.

Evaluation of online texts is challenging for adolescents and their ability to evaluate the credibility of online texts varies considerably. Beliefs in justifications for knowledge may contribute to the evaluation of online information.

The research suggests students’ evaluations of online texts reflected different credibility aspects and depth in reasoning. Students used more frequently venue, evidence, and author than intentions and corroboration as evaluation criteria. Students’ beliefs in justification by authority and justification by multiple sources predicted their evaluation performance.

This means that students should be instructed to evaluate various aspects of credibility and engage in deep reasoning. Students would benefit from learning how to use corroboration with multiple texts as an evaluation strategy.

The Game Makers and Artists Pushing Roblox to its Limits

Last year, when the pandemic made in-person gatherings impossible, digital artist Everest Pipkin downloaded Roblox Studio, the platform’s game creation software, to construct a digital space to host their own party.

It’s still publicly accessible, a giant mountainous landscape packed full of hang-out spots and, befitting the celebratory occasion, a balloon dispenser. Friends rolled through virtually over the course of six hours, an event Pipkin describes as “goofy,” “strange,” and, above all, “lovely.”

In fact, Pipkin was so taken with the platform that they decided to use it to build a new project entirely within it. The so-called Dream Diary is a little different from the birthday zone; it allows players to peek into the most intimate recesses of its creator’s nocturnal mind.

It’s interesting to see the storytelling, art, and narrative in these spaces.

Do

How ‘Soft Fascination’ Helps Restore Your Tired Brain

Attention fatigue is a threat to your cognitive and mental health. Certain activities seem to reinvigorate the brain in ways that support directed attention and self-regulation.

  • A 20-20-20 rule for your brain?
  • Schedule some “soft fascination” into your day

Discuss

consider

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.

George Orwell

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Viral virtuoso Marcin returns with rip-roaring, reverb-drenched rendition of Metallica’s Master of Puppets.

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Honest Signals of Intelligence

WELCOME

Welcome back all!

As a reminder, our chapter, Co-constructing Digital Futures, is available for #OpenReview as part of the @mitpress Works in Progress program. Katie Paciga, Elizabeth Stevens, Kristen Turner and I worked with our children to understand privacy, security, and algorithms.

This is published through MIT Press using an open peer review process. You can create an account and give us feedback unit October 5. Please read and comment!

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

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2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals Winning Moment

Zaila Avant-garde Is The First Black American To Win The Scripps National Spelling Bee.

“I can’t even put into words how I feel right now,” she told NPR. “I’d like to say thank you to Bill Murray because the reason I knew that word ‘murraya’ was because of the movie Lost in Translation, which when I was a little kid I used to listen to the soundtrack and so that’s how that word was stuck in my head because it was spelled like Bill Murray’s name.”

She currently holds three Guinness world records for her basketball skills, including a record for most bounce juggles in one minute with four basketballs.

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Luxury Surveillance

One of the most troubling features of the digital revolution is that some people pay to subject themselves to surveillance that others are forced to endure and would, if anything, pay to be free of.

Chris Gilliard and David Golumbia with some pointed questions about why some consumers see themselves as powerful and immune from unwelcome monitoring and control.

Is Critical Race Theory Taught in K-12 Schools? The NEA Says Yes, and That It Should Be.

The public debate over critical race theory (CRT) is in large part a semantics argument, with the anti-CRT faction attempting to include “all of the various cultural insanities” people hear about in the media under the banner of CRT while the other side protests that it’s technically a much more limited concept confined to elite education.

The National Education Association (NEA) appears to have accepted the conservative framing of CRT: namely, that it’s not merely confined to academia but is in fact also being taught in K-12 schools. And the NEA thinks this is a good thing that should be defended.

The very act of learning history in a free and multi-ethnic society is inescapably fraught. Any accurate teaching of any country’s history could make some of its citizens feel uncomfortable (or even guilty) about the past.

It’s not just bad behavior – why social media design makes it hard to have constructive disagreements online

Amanda Baughan and colleagues research how the design of social media affects online disagreements and how to design for constructive arguments.

They found that people often avoid discussing challenging topics online for fear of harming their relationships, and when it comes to disagreements, not all social media are the same.

design

Supreme Court Rules on Snapchat and Free Speech: What This Means for Schools

In May 2017, Brandy Levy, a Pennsylvania high school sophomore, used Snapchat to vent her frustrations over not making the varsity cheerleading squad at her school. She posted, “F— school f— softball f— cheer f— everything,” and included a picture of herself and a friend holding up their middle fingers.

The post lived on via a screenshot someone took of the post that was eventually seen by the cheerleading coach who suspended Levy from the squad.

Upset that her First Amendment right to free speech had been violated, Levy and her parents took the issue to court and ultimately to the US Supreme Court who, in an 8-1 decision, ruled this week that the school did not have the right to punish Levy for off-campus speech.

All of this makes it even harder for schools to find that fine line where off-campus speech crosses over into the territory of “some occasions” when schools can regulate it.

The Health Benefits of Coffee

Coffee is good for you…for the most part.

Jane Brody reviews a series of studies showing that drinking coffee reduces risk of all kinds of ailments, including Parkinson’s disease, melanoma, prostate cancer, even suicide.

Do

If you’re like me, you live half of your life in a Google Doc.

Smart chips are one of the latest updates in Google Workspace meant to boost workflow and enhance users productivity by interconnecting various Google services. You are now able to easily add smart chips to Google Docs in order to communicate information about other users, files, events, and dates.

To use the smart chip service you simple enter the symbol @ and select from the list of suggestions (e.g., people, files, or dates). To mention an individual add his/her name after the symbol @, the same with events and dates (e.g., @today, @tomorrow, @yesterday).

Discuss

consider

Truth is not what you want it to be; it is what it is. And you must bend to its power or live a lie.

Miyamoto Musashi

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Your ability to BS your way through life may be a sign of intelligence, according to a recent study.

Come BS with me at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Creativity is Subtraction

WELCOME

We improve the quality of what we are doing by reducing the quantity of what we shouldn’t be doing.

This week some of my recent research in screentime was posted. Our chapter, Co-constructing Digital Futures, is now available for #OpenReview as part of the @mitpress Works in Progress program. I worked with the brilliant Katie Paciga, Elizabeth Stevens, and Kristen Turner as we talked with our children about privacy, security, and algorithms as they use tech.

This is being published through MIT Press and they’re using an open peer review process. You can create an account and give us feedback unit October 5. Please read and comment!

Thank you to Sheri Edwards for the cover photo in this issue.

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

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007 JAMES BOND STARRING JIM CARREY

Here at Digitally Literate, we love deepfakes.

Digital artist Jarkan, the same talented hand behind turning Millie Bobby Brown into Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger, has dipped into the world of James Bond for their latest piece.

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Understanding cancel culture: Normative and unequal sanctioning

Cancel culture is a phenomenon where individuals transgressing norms are called out and ostracized on social media and other venues by members of the public. While its effects are decried by some and its existence denied by others, the processes that shape cancel culture are misunderstood.

This literature review by Hervé Saint-Louis explores how cancel culture affects people unequally by looking at the phenomenon known as the Karens.

The piece argues that cancellation can only occur if participating third parties with oversight over transgressing individuals perform sanctions.

A review of frameworks as a starting point for anti-racism content development

As content creators and learning designers, how do we start to think about and approach race and racism in our work? How do we do this individually and when working with program teams?

One possible opportunity is the Design for Diversity™ (D4D) framework. It is not specific to education or digital learning content, but the D4D framework contains tools and guided critical thinking exercises to undertake when starting work to help with “illuminating cultural and racial biases within your design, ideation, and creative processes.”

After EI, DI?

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to perceive, use, understand and manage emotions.

The DQ Institute is working on the Digital Intelligence Quotient which offers an encompassing framework for thinking about digital citizenship, digital creativity and digital competitiveness.

What might digital intelligence (DI) look like, and how might we develop it?

OER and Teaching Through the Rearview Mirror

Ray Schroeder with a paragraph that has been stuck in my mind like an earworm. I will be stealing this for future discussions.

Are you and your colleagues teaching through the windshield or the rearview mirror? What steps are you taking to bring new materials and fresh experiences to your classes? Will your teaching hold up through five years? Who is leading the charge to make your curriculum relevant to tomorrow?

Want to Be a World-Class Problem Solver? Science Says the Trick Is to Embrace the Subtraction Habit

New research shows that removing rather than adding elements to a problematic idea, product, or process is often better–but first you have to remember to take that approach.

Changes that were more effective than additive changes.

Try it. The next time you try to solve a problem or improve a situation, think about how less could be more

Do

Scan Your LEGO With This App to Figure Out What to Build

A new app, called Brickit, available for download in the app store, will scan your LEGOs to create an inventory of your collection. This includes counting the total number of bricks, as well as sorting them by size.

All you have to do is spread your LEGOs out on a flat surface and take a photograph, and the app will suggest different figures you can build using the bricks in your collection, including step-by-step directions.

Discuss

consider

Creativity is subtraction.

Austin Kleon

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Facebook tests prompts that ask users if they’re worried a friend is ‘becoming an extremist.’ What could go wrong?!?!

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

Techno-cures Are a Dead End

WELCOME

Welcome back. I hope you’re taking time for self-care.

This week I posted the following:

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

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Teaching in the US vs. the rest of the world

Teachers in America have a uniquely tough job. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

From hours worked to pay rates, countries like Finland, Japan, and South Korea make teaching a more respected and sustainable profession.

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Antitrust Overhaul Passes Its First Tests. Now, the Hard Parts.

Europe has been harder on giant tech companies than the U.S., but perhaps that’s changing.

The U.S. Judiciary Committee voted this week to advance five bills that would address the dominance of companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook.

Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on much in the U.S. these days, but many seem to agree on this.

Cancel Amazon Prime

This week was Prime Day, a global shopping event provided by Amazon for their Prime members. Prime is Amazon’s $119-a-year membership service, which buys subscribers free one-day shipping, plus access to streaming media, discounts at the Amazon subsidiary Whole Foods, and a host of other perks.

In this post, Ellen Cushing suggests that if you want to do something about Big Tech and its growing power…you should cancel your Amazon Prime account.

No Cure

Hannah Zeavin on cures, and our desires to have techno-cures that will fix all that ails us.

“Inescapably, then, techno-cures are a dead end. The presenting complaint and the resulting cure are each a symptom of larger societal forces at work; if we can identify who is understood to be in need of a cure, who is worthy of it, and who receives it, we can follow each one to diagnose the system in which they occur. Once a diagnosis has been made, remedy may be sought. And at the ready, ever to hand, techno-optimism, and its kin, techno-solutionism, present us with a myriad of cures.”

Teaching kids social responsibility – like how to settle fights and ask for help – can reduce school bullying

Research from Jonathan B. Santo and Josafa da Cunha that suggests that schools that encourage their students to care for their classmates’ feelings and peacefully resolve conflicts with their peers can lower incidents of bullying.

The Internet Eats Up Less Energy Than You Might Think

A new analysis by Jonathan Koomey and Eric Masanet suggests some dire warnings of environmental damage from technology are overstated.

The piece suggests that the giant tech companies and their power-hungry, football-field-size data centers are not the environmental villains they are sometimes portrayed to be on social media and elsewhere.

Do

Lightboard for Teaching, Streaming, & Ideation

 

I’ve played with a Lightboard like this in the past…and it is awesome.

If you’d like to make your own…here’s how.

Discuss

consider

It is part of the cure to wish to be cured.

Seneca

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Apple’s emoji keyboard is reinforcing Western stereotypes. Hmmm…

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