Digitally Literate #202


Clearing the path
Digitally Lit #202 – 6/22/2019

Hi all, my name is Ian O’Byrne and welcome to issue #202 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 worked on a lot things behind the scenes as I’m preparing for a weeklong institute on computational thinking and coding as part of the


The Spider Dress That Reacts To Personal Space Invaders (3:11)

Somehow fashion designer Anouk Wipprecht popped up in my feed this week, and I went down a rabbit hole exploring her work.

Up above I shared the “spider dress.” Check out the “smoke dress” and the “drinkbot dress.” Definitely review Wipprecht’s TED talk on Clothing as Emotional Interface.


Facebook moderators break their NDAs to expose desperate working conditions

As a general advisory, this story receives a content warning as it describes “violent acts against people and animals, accounts of sexual harassment and post-traumatic stress disorder, and other potentially disturbing content.”

Former Facebook content moderators are speaking out about their working conditions in the United States for the first time ever.

Earlier this year, The Verge’s Casey Newton broke the story about the working conditions of Facebook moderators in Phoenix, AZ. This latest story is a followup revealing that the pattern of severe workplace conditions extends to a second campus in Tampa, FL, but in even more extreme ways. They describe a scene in which the office is filthy, the work is grim, and the side effects of doing the job last long after it is over.

You can watch the video overview here.

We need to think about the about the longterm mental health implications on humans of policing our social networks. We also need to think about the discourse practices as we engage in these spaces.

What is no good for the hive is no good for the bee

A great post by good friend Doug Belshaw looking at the subject of tech veganism. Tech veganism is:

  • a preference for open-source software over proprietary software
  • a suspicion of big tech companies
  • a high bar for privacy and security

Belshaw threads the needle between “time well spent” in our public social networks (Facebook, Twitter), politics, and power.

My takeaway from this is that we need to think more not only about the practices and tools we use online, but also the real power or freedom that we have in these choices. Once again…this is bringing me back to open source and indieweb philosophies.

The Mark Zuckerberg Deepfakes Are Forcing Facebook to Fact Check Art

I’ve talked quite a bit about deepfakes over the last couple of years here in this newsletter. My favorite example of this technology is this video mashup of Steve Buscemi’s head on Jennifer Lawrence’s body.

That was until this deepfake of Mark Zuckerberg was released on June 7th by the digital artist & researcher, Bill Posters. Facebook marked this video and limited sharing on its network, which is weird as they frequently avoid limiting the sharing of other viral, and perhaps disingenuous content.

As a response, Posters said that he is “deeply concerned” about Facebook’s decision to downrank his art, saying that it sets a dangerous precedent for other artists who want to critique or challenge systems of power. He’s posted another Zuckerberg deepfake on Instagram, to protest the first one being labeled as false.

49% of all Google searches are no-click, study finds

Zero-click searches have steadily risen over the past three years, up from 12% in 2016 to 48.96% in 2019.

No click, or zero-click, searches are a search engine result page (SERP) that displays the answer to a user’s query at the top of a Google search result. This kind of search result satisfies the user’s intent without having to actually click on any search result links.

This is troubling for a number of reasons. First, it makes it harder for content creators as we see that Google is slowing building a walled garden in online spaces. We often find fault with Facebook for this, but Google is actively replicating this in the open.

Second, this is troubling for critical evaluation of online information. If “Google says it’s true” people will increasingly take it as fact and move on.

Mindfulness appears to diminish depressive symptoms by reducing rumination

New research sheds light on the relationship between depression and mindfulness. The study found that people who exhibit more dispositional mindfulness tend to ruminate less about past events.

The study, printed here in the journal Mindfulness suggests that ruminators tend to latch onto a negative emotion and repeatedly mull it over in their mind, whereas mindfulness teaches us to not to become entangled with our negative emotions.

One of the authors of the study, Paul Jose suggested that “Future work would usefully explain more precisely how mindfulness provides a protective resource for individuals coping with their problems. Perhaps the mindfulness facets of non-judging and non-reacting are associated with particularly helpful coping strategies, such as cognitive restructuring?”


Why a digital diary will change your life

Farhad Manjoo talks about the opportunity to journal, and document your life in an “unsocial way” using apps like Day One, Manjoo suggests that this “has transformed my relationship with my phone, improved my memory, and given me a deeper perspective on my life than the one I was getting through the black mirror of social media.”

Think of Day One as a private social network for an audience of one: yourself. You post updates to it just as you might on Instagram or Facebook. The app — which runs on Macs, iPhones and iPads, syncing your entries between your devices — can handle long text journals, short picture-focused status updates, and pretty much anything else that comes across the digital transom.

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Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.

Paulo Coelho

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I’ve been really enjoying this Fight the Power playlist over the past week. Enjoy. 🙂

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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