Digitally Literate #215


Less Is More
Digitally Lit #215 – 9/21/2019

Hi all, my name is Ian O’Byrne and welcome to issue #215 of Digitally Literate.

Thank you for stopping by. Please subscribe if you would like this to show up in your email inbox.

Feel free to send along links, notes, and news you think I should include in this work. Special thanks to Gretchen Scronce, the Virtual Services Coordinator at the College of Charleston. I always like chats about critical evaluation of online info. 🙂

This week I posted the following:


Back-To-School Essentials (1:06)

Please note that this PSA contains graphic content related to school shootings that may be upsetting to some viewers. If you feel that this subject matter may be too difficult for you, you may choose not to watch this video.

This video was posted earlier this week, and it instantly garnered a lot of discussion & debate. Much of the initial response focused on “I would never show this to my kids” or “I would be mad if a teacher showed this to my kids.”

To this, I suggest that this video is not for children. This is for adults. If this makes people upset, or fear for the lives of innocents…good. Perhaps we need to address gun violence in society.


Global Climate Strike

This week, millions of people around the world started marching to kick off the Global Climate Strike (9/20/2019 – 9/27/2019). This began with the actions of youth, most notably Greta Thunberg, in an attempt to stave off a climate catastrophe.

You can get involved digitally by sharing notifications on your digital spaces or social media networks.

Why degrowth is the only responsible way forward

As we consider the impact of climate change, we need to understand that environmental issues are all interrelated. You should do your part, but understand the chief concern is not straws, plastic bags at the supermarket, meatless burgers, or cow farts. Much of the root cause of this crisis is rampant capitalism. Since 1988, 100 corporations have been responsible for 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Technological shifts always come at an environmental cost. Every sector of our economy is still based on some form of extraction, pollution, and waste. And all of them depend on carbon. Renewable energy, in particular, requires a great amount of rare minerals and land-use. The same goes for nuclear energy, which demands considerable resources in order to mine uranium, construct power plants, and deal with its
waste. Even digital technology has environmental impacts.

To sustain the natural basis of our life, we must slow down. We have to reduce the amount of extraction, pollution, and waste throughout our economy. This implies less production, less consumption, less work, and degrowth.

Thanks to Doug Belshaw for sharing many of these links in his Thought Shrapnel networks.

Young people are going to save us all from office life

In some of my keynotes, I indicate that adults may not entirely understand how to use digital tools and online social spaces. Perhaps there is a need or opportunity to learn from youth as they adjust to these tools and practices.

This piece in the NY Times suggests that Gen Z-ers and millenials may not be lazy and entitled…perhaps they’re the first generation to understand work-life balance!!!

Facing the Great Reckoning Head-On

As more news continues to come out about Jeffrey Epstein and the money ties to higher ed & technology, I’ve been thinking about how we should address these realities.

danah boyd takes these issues head on in this transcript of her speech as she was receiving the 2019 Barlow/Pioneer Award.

“Move fast and break things” is an abomination if your goal is to create a healthy society. Taking shortcuts may be financially profitable in the short-term, but the cost to society is too great to be justified. In a healthy society, we accommodate differently-abled people through accessibility standards, not because it’s financially prudent but because it’s the right thing to do. In a healthy society, we make certain that the vulnerable amongst us are not harassed into silence because that is not the value behind free speech. In a healthy society, we strategically design to increase social cohesion because binaries are machine logic not human logic.

The Great Reckoning is in front of us. How we respond to the calls for justice will shape the future of technology and society. We must hold accountable all who perpetuate, amplify, and enable hate, harm, and cruelty. But accountability without transformation is simply spectacle. We owe it to ourselves and to all of those who have been hurt to focus on the root of the problem. We also owe it to them to actively seek to not build certain technologies because the human cost is too great

‘A good teacher voice strikes fear into grown men’

A strong teacher voice can silence both children and adults – and it’s about emphasis, not volume, says Julia Croyden.

A good teacher voice can cut glass if used with care. It can silence a class of children; it can strike fear into the hearts of grown men. A quiet, carefully placed “Excuse me”, with just the slightest emphasis on the “-se”, is more effective at stopping an argument between adults or children than any amount of reason.


Procrastination may be a good thing

Creative procrastination, rather than idle postponement, can make you more successful.

Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist from UPenn’s Wharton Business School, suggests that procrastination has the opportunity to make you more creative. Watch more in his TED Talk about the habits of original thinkers.

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Things are strongest where they’re broken

Louise Penny

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Digitally Literate is a synthesis of the cool stuff I find as I surf, skim, & scan the Internet each week. I take notes of everything that piques my interest, and then pull together the important stuff here in a weekly digest.

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