Digitally Literate #201


Mastering Your Life
Digitally Lit #201 – 6/15/2019

Hi all, my name is Ian O’Byrne and welcome to issue #201 of Digitally Literate.

In this newsletter I curate the news of the week and distilling this down into an easy-to-read resource for you. Thank you for reading. Please subscribe if you haven’t already.

This week I posted the following things elsewhere online:


Hands-On with Tactical Haptics VR Controller! (19:42)

I’ve been playing a bit with virtual reality (VR) over the last year. A member of our research group suggested that VR is getting better, and the tipping point will be if/when haptic feedback gloves and suits come down in price.

Put simply, a series of actuators, or little pressure sensitive motors, synchronize to give you the feeling of movement. Some of the more expensive platforms have “microfluidic technology” that pumps fluid through the system to mimic touch with “sub-millimeter precision.”

We’re quickly moving to Ready Player One territory.


A Duke study recorded thousands of students’ faces. Now they’re being used all over the world

In 2014, Duke researchers set up cameras to record thousands of individuals walking on West Campus, with the objective of collecting a data set that could enhance facial recognition technology. The letter of apology from one of the researchers is available here.

This story is a chilling account of the issues with data collection and surveillance in our modern society. We are constantly under surveillance, and if it were not for the work of the Duke Chronicle, it remains to be seen if this story would have come to light. We need to consider the many of stories like this (and worse) that never come out.

Research ethics questions aside…this story is an example of the challenges of collecting data and sharing it openly online. Your data can be shared widely online, and used for a variety of purposes. In an age of deepfakes, and a need to train algorithms…this data is a goldmine.

Scary deepfake tool lets you put words into someone’s mouth

Last week, Stanford researchers announced they’d created an algorithm that makes “editing video as easy as editing text.”

This has big implications in video editing and content creation, but there are even bigger challenges with deep fake videos a we think about critical evaluation of online information.

Thanks to Bryan Alexander for the share.

Every year at this time, Mary Meeker delivers her annual Internet Trends Report, a look at the significant trends in digital spaces. You can review this highly anticipated slide deck here…beware, it’s 333 slides. 🙂

Some of the big takeaways for me:

  • 51% of the world (3.8 billion people) were internet users last year, up from 49% (3.6 billion) in 2017. Growth slowed to about 6 percent in 2018 because so many people have come online that new users are harder to come by. Sales of smartphones (the primary internet access point for many people across the globe) are slowing as most of the world comes online.
  • Americans are spending more time with digital media than ever: 6.3 hours a day in 2018, up 7 percent from the year before. Most of that growth is coming from mobile and other connected devices, while time spent on computers declines. People are also getting more concerned about time spent online, as more than a quarter of US adults say they’re “almost constantly online.”
  • The number of interactive gamers worldwide grew 6 percent to 2.4 billion people last year, as interactive games like Fortnite become the new social media for certain people. The number of people who watch those games — rather than participate — is swelling, too.
  • The internet will become more of a cesspool: Getting rid of problematic content becomes more difficult on a large scale, and the very nature of internet communication allows that content to be amplified much more than before.

Pew Research – Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019

The latest report from the Pew Research Center on the ways in which we connect to the Internet.

  • The share of Americans who say they own a smartphone has increased dramatically over the past decade – from 35% in 2011 to 81% in 2019.
  • 37% of U.S. adults say they mostly use a smartphone when accessing the internet. 58% of 18-to 29-year-olds say they mostly go online through a smartphone, up from 41% in 2013.
  • A majority of Americans subscribe to high-speed internet service at home or own a smartphone, but digital gaps remain between some groups.
  • Roughly one-in-four lower-income adults are “smartphone only” internet users.
  • Smartphone users are now more likely to go online using their mobile phone than with some other type of device.
  • A growing share of non-broadband users cite their smartphone’s capabilities as the reason they do not subscribe to high-speed internet service at home.
  • A majority of non-broadband users have never had high-speed internet at home and relatively few are interested in having it in the future

What advice articles miss about ‘summer loss’

A great piece in The Conversation from Kelly Chandler-Olcott about the “summer slide”.

The summer slide is real…but, there are a number of factors that impact how we view this “time off.”


Avocado chocolate peanut butter smoothie

I started up our summer reading schedule with my kids this past week. As part of that, my son checked out a cookbook that recommended adding avocado to smoothies. Smoothies are an artform in our house…so we tested it out.

Peanut butter, frozen bananas, almond milk, yogurt, and an avocado. The end result is that the avocado made it slightly green…but the texture was super smooth. I definitely recommend this for your breakfast or snack.

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When the voice and the vision on the inside is more profound, and more clear and loud than all opinions on the outside, you’ve begun to master your life.

Dr. John

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This week I had a Twitter discussion about the Duke University shared above, and Jade E. Davis recommended to stay on top of changes in terms of service/use from the services we use. This TLDR service will definitely help out.

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

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