Digitally Literate #217


Learning How to Learn
Digitally Lit #217 – 10/5/2019

Hi all, my name is Ian O’Byrne and welcome to issue #217 of Digitally Literate.

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

This week I posted the following:


The Modern Struggle – Naval Ravikant (3:22)

Naval Ravikant is a technology ​entrepreneur well known for his role as a founder and the Chairman ​of AngelList​. This audio is from his podcast with Joe Rogan.


Facebook’s code of silence has been breached. It’s amazing it stayed intact this long.

Leaked audio was published from one of Mark Zuckerberg’s private all-staff meetings held over the summer.

In the audio, you’ll hear Zuckerberg speaking on a variety of topics from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s call to break up his company to his plans to compete with TikTok, the Chinese social network that exploded in popularity over the last year.

The full transcript is available here.

This is important as it is the closest that we’ve gotten to some unvarnished insight into Zuckerberg and his ethos for the company.

Free Speech is Killing Us

In previous issues of this newsletter, I’ve asked whether there should be limits to freedoms of speech as we engage and connect in digital spaces.

In this New York Times op-ed, Andrew Marantz writes that “noxious speech is causing tangible harm.” He cites the ideologically motivated killings in Charlottesville and El Paso and warns that something must be done to prevent extremist speech from continuing to inspire violence.

Robby Soave indicates in Reason that some of the violence highlighted in the piece doesn’t entirely hold up if you look at the data.

Today the U.S. has greater protections for free speech and less violence. The Supreme Court has recognized increasingly fewer exceptions to the First Amendment over the last several decades. The result has not been an increase in violence: The violent crime rate has plummeted since the early 1990s.

If the argument is that free speech protections must be curbed in order to stave off an epidemic of violence, then the argument should be heartily rejected. Domestically, our capacity for free speech has increased, but violence has not.

College Students Just Want Normal Libraries

The more ubiquitous technology becomes in our lives, the more we think that it has to be everywhere. In this same line of thinking, we also believe this tired trope that “libraries will no longer matter.”

If we listen to youth…we’ll understand that they see things differently.

Yet much of the glitz may be just that—glitz. Survey data and experts suggest that students generally appreciate libraries most for their simple, traditional offerings: a quiet place to study or collaborate on a group project, the ability to print research papers, and access to books. Notably, many students say they like relying on librarians to help them track down hard-to-find texts or navigate scholarly journal databases. “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers,” as the writer Neil Gaiman once said. “A librarian can bring you back the right one.”

So-called digital natives still crave opportunities to use libraries as libraries, and many actively seek out physical texts —92percent of the college students surveyed in a 2015 study, for example, said they preferred paper books to electronic versions

Why Boredom Often Beats Screen Time

An interview with journalist Manoush Zomorodi and the informal experiment in which she had thousands of volunteers agree to give boredom a try by reducing their screen time & becoming more intentional about their use of technology.

This work indicates the need to teach the nuances of when and how to use technology…and leave space for some boredom.

Watch Zomorodi’s TED Talk here.

5 Strategies to Demystify the Learning Process for Struggling Students

Barbara Oakley sharing insight from her works, and the popular Coursera course (Learning How to Learn) that she created with Terrence Sejnowski.

Oakley identifies some key principles educators can use to help demystify the learning process.

  • The Hiker Brain vs. The Race Car Brain – Toggling between focused and diffused thinking.
  • Chains and Chunks – Thinking through identification of chains in learning…as opposed to chunks.
  • The Power of Metaphor – Neural reuse, and assimilation/accommodation in learning.
  • The Problem of Procrastination – Toggling between focus and relax in cognitive activity.
  • Expanding Possibilities – Teach how to learn to open up possibilities.

How to Set Your Google Data to Self-Destruct

Google has now given us an option to set search and location data to automatically disappear after a certain time. We should all use it.

Most of Google’s new privacy controls are in a web tool called My Activity.

Once you get into the tool and click on Activity Controls, you will see an option called Web & App Activity. Click Manage Activity and then the button under the calendar icon. Here, you can set your activity history on several Google products to automatically erase itself after three months or after 18 months. This data includes searches made on, voice requests made with Google Assistant, destinations that you looked up on Maps and searches in Google’s Play app store.

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Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

Mahatma Gandhi

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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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