Digitally Literate #210


Meeting the future
Digitally Lit #210 – 8/10/2019

Hi all, my name is Ian O’Byrne and welcome to issue #210 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 behind the scenes on an instrument looking at self-efficacy of educators as they teach literacy across the content areas. If you’re interested in helping validate this survey…send me an email.


Computing history: From government secrets to a failed tech utopia (4:33)

Historian Margaret O’Mara explains why a tech utopia was, and still might be, a pipe dream.

The personal computing movement thought technology would solve inequality, racism, and war – but as we now know, it did not. History seems to suggest that humans, not tech alone, must be the agents of change.

This video resonated with me this week as I’ve been thinking about Lisa Lane’s post about about the Internet not being for learning.

Read more from O’Mara in her new book, The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America.


How an Online Mob Created a Playbook for a Culture War

I’m often amazed at how many people don’t know about Gamergate. #GamerGate was an online movement ostensibly concerned with ethics in game journalism and with protecting the “gamer” identity.

This week was the five year anniversary of this series of events. This retrospective on that pivotal moment from the NY Times is a compilation set up to help readers understand the lineage of our current political toxicity.

Facebook Just Gave 1.3 Billion Messenger Users A Reason To Delete Their Accounts

Another week, another reason to delete your Facebook account. 🙁

According to a Bloomberg report, Facebook has hired the contractors to listen in to users taking advantage of the audio to text functionality in its Messenger service.

Facebook time and time again shown little regard for the privacy of their users. The key takeaway is to understand that Messenger is not a secure tool to use as you communicate with anyone.

Using Digital Tools to Promote Social and Emotional Learning

Matthew Farber on how educators can take advantage of digital tools that students want to use to enhance social and emotional learning (SEL) efforts.

Farber shares details about the release of a new guide called Reclaiming Digital Futures, which is an effort to help community-based organizations integrate digital learning into their programs. This toolkit is a curated cross-section of resources that relay knowledge and best practices in achieving real success in youth-centered digital learning.

The examples shared in the guide illustrate just how well SEL can be embedded in digital learning experiences.

Getting Beyond the CRAAP Test: A Conversation with Mike Caulfield

John Warner sat down with Mike Caulfield to talk about his adaptable tool to incorporate lessons in digital literacy in any course.

These course materials are openly available here.

This course shows you how to fact and source-check in five easy lessons, taking about 30 minutes apiece. The entire curriculum is two and a half to three hours and is suitable homework for the first week of a college-level module on disinformation or online information literacy.

A Swiss Army Knife for Your Mind

The Thought Record is a tool to apply Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to everyday life situations. CBT is one of the most well researched and scientifically supported mental health treatments in existence.

A Thought Record is simply a sheet of paper with five columns: Situation, Emotions, Automatic Thoughts, Rational Responses, and Helpful Actions. Your cue for when to fill out a Thought Record is when you have an uncomfortable feeling. So, for example, if you are angry, anxious, sad or annoyed—go fill out a Thought Record. You can do it at the end of the day or in real-time as a situation is occurring.

I’m thinking about the opportunities that might exist as we use this in classrooms as a formative assessment to think about mental health and coping strategies.


Respond to email in five sentences or less is a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be five sentences or less.

The website above gives you a piece of text to place in your email signature to let people know about your goal.

I’ve noticed that my emails are getting longer and longer. As I try to provide more details, the recipient is reading less and less. This year I’m going to try and limit myself to five sentences for each reply. That forces me to be concise, to choose only the essentials of what I want to say, and limits the time I spend replying to email.

Learn more in this post by Leo Babauta.

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Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.

Marcus Aurelius

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If you get into discussions/debates about gun control, you’ll quickly notice that the language surrounding firearms can be tricky. The gun lobby and their advocates seek to derail these discussions by pointing to incorrect use of gun-related terminology.

This breakdown of gun terminology should help in discussions on mass shootings and debates over gun control.

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. Koen Jacobs Reply
    August 17, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    Koen Jacobs liked this on

  2. Aaron Davis Reply
    August 20, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Thank you Ian for link to the email habits. I have been trying to improve my workflows for a while, but after reading Leo Babauta’s piece, I think the issue is my use of email. This also reminded me of Doug Belshaw’s email tips.

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