Digitally Literate #205


Truth Decay
Digitally Lit #205 – 7/13/2019

Hi all, my name is Ian O’Byrne and welcome to issue #205 of Digitally Literate.

In this newsletter I distill the news of the week in technology into an easy-to-read resource. Thank you for reading. Please subscribe if you haven’t already.

This week I worked on the following:


How Google And Facebook Invade Your Privacy To Sell Ads (9:21)

An interview with Dina Srinivasan on The Majority Report about the business end of ad sales online, and how this ultimately invades your privacy.

The lack of privacy that we are subject to is a bigger issue as it undercuts other services you may want in the future.


Journalist Carole Cadwalladr has a question for tech workers: Are you okay with your bosses enabling “techno-fascism”?

Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr joined Kara Swisher for an episode of
Recode Decode with Kara Swisher.

The interview is a wide-ranging discussion that focuses on the potential for technology to disrupt democratic processes and systems.

What struck me the most about this interview is tech ignoring/refusing responsibility for their role in global events.

White House Hosts Conservative Internet Activists at a ‘Social Media Summit’

The White House held a social media summit this week to potentially discuss censorship by technology companies in digital, social spaces.

As noted by NPR, in May, Facebook banned several high-profile social media personalities who they say violated their policies against hate speech that engages in violence, including right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones; extremists Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer and Joseph Watson, who works for Jones’ Infowars; and white supremacist Paul Nehlen, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2016 and 2018. The platform also banned Infowars, as well as Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

It is important to note that not all of the people that have been banned were invited to the summit. Ultimately, this appears to be an attempt by the White House to embolden and empower many far-right conspiracy theorists that spread hoaxes and fringe views online.

Exploring Media Literacy Education as a Tool for Mitigating Truth Decay

In a new report, the RAND Corporation surveyed the developing landscape of media literacy education. Through interviews with a dozen media literacy experts and a review of studies on educational interventions, researchers examined how media literacy is defined, what instructional resources are available, and how effective media literacy education is in guarding against the spread of misinformation.

They found that though experts say media literacy is urgently important, there isn’t one universal skill set for the discipline—making it difficult to evaluate and compare educational programs.

The report is the latest installment in the RAND Corporation’s study of what they call “truth decay,” or the blurring of the lines between opinion and objective fact. It is important for individuals not admit that this is a very complex problem…and not just about fact checking.

How the biggest decentralized social network is dealing with its Nazi problem

You may have heard of Mastodon. Sadly I’m talking about the open-source decentralized social network, and not the awesome heavy metal band from Atlanta, Georgia.

Mastodon picked up interest as an alternative to Twitter as it is decentralized as opposed to how Twitter is centralized. This means that you can create your own instance of Mastodon for you and your group to discuss, chat, and share. You can set the rules, norms, and expectations of this group. And then you can dictate how your instance of Mastodon connects to the broader Mastodon network.

Gab—which has been tied to the suspect responsible for the Pittsburgh synagogue terror attack that killed 11 worshippers—announced on July 4 that it had switched its backend to run on Mastodon’s software, instantly making it the largest Mastodon user, with more than double the number of users as the next largest federation.

Because Gab is simply implementing Mastodon’s open-source code, there’s no functional way for Mastodon to shut down Gab.

School by day, assembly line by night: How teachers in South Carolina make ends meet

School by day, assembly line by night.

A harrowing account of how teachers in South Carolina try to make ends meet…all to remain in the classrooms and educate our children.


Use augmented reality to transform spaces into stories

While I was at the SCCITL Conference, I was looking for new things that really wowed me. I spent most of my time in sessions that focused on augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) opportunities.

One of the things that interested me was the Wonderscope AR app for iOS devices.

I’m not as interested in mixed reality for consumption. I’m interested in how we can use these texts and tools for teaching, and construction/sharing.

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Great effort is required to arrest decay and restore vigor. One must exercise proper deliberation, plan carefully before making a move, and be alert in guarding against relapse following a renaissance.


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This week I was really enjoying EGOLI, the new album from Africa Express, a musical collective led by Damon Albarn. All of the tracks are great, but Taranau is stuck in my head.

Digitally Literate is a summary of all the great stuff from the Internet this week in technology, education, & literacy. Say hey with a note at or on the social network of your choice.

1 comment

  1. Aaron Davis
    July 15, 2019 at 2:58 am

    We talk about effect sizes and innovation, yet we often assume such aspects as wages and house prices on teacher capacity.

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