Digitally Literate #219


More nourishing pursuits
Digitally Lit #219 – 10/26/2019

Hi all, welcome to issue #219 of Digitally Literate. My name is Ian O’Byrne.

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

If you haven’t already, please check out the Technopanic Podcast which I co-host with Kristen Turner. Subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, PocketCasts, Stitcher…or the podcast catcher of your choice. You can also review all episodes here.


Google and NASA’s Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab (6:28)

Google has officially announced that it’s achieved quantum supremacy in a new article published in the scientific journal Nature.

Watch video of the announcement here.

Scientists have suggested that this breakthrough is analogous to the Wright brothers’ first plane flight in 1903.


Why Facebook’s plan to rescue journalism may not be enough

Mark Zuckerberg rolled out Facebook’s highly touted news tab on Friday, saying he hopes it “honors and supports the contribution journalists make to our society.”

This news was instantly met with backlash when it was revealed that Breitbart would be included in this news stream. Breitbart has been described as a platform for the alt-right.

Perhaps this decision is not a political one, but rather to continue to extend the reach of the social network.

But he is not a Republican or a Democrat in how he wields his power. Mr. Zuckerberg’s only real political affiliation is that he’s the chief executive of Facebook. His only consistent ideology is that connectivity is a universal good. And his only consistent goal is advancing that ideology, at nearly any cost.

Under digital surveillance: how American schools spy on millions of kids

Fueled by fears of school shootings, the market has grown rapidly for technologies that monitor students through official school emails and chats.

There is still no independent evaluation of whether this kind of surveillance technology actually works to reduce violence and self-harm. Privacy experts say pervasive monitoring may hurt children, and may be particularly dangerous for students with disabilities and students of color.

Despite the lack of research evidence, tech companies are marketing school monitoring technologies with bold claims of hundreds of lives saved, mostly through prevention of youth suicide attempts.

Kids these days: Why the youth of today seem lacking

An assessment of people’s tendency to believe “kids these days” are deficient relative to those of previous generations.

Findings suggest that denigrating today’s youth is a fundamental illusion grounded in several cognitive mechanisms, including a specific bias to see others as lacking in those domains on which one excels and a memory bias projecting one’s current traits to past generations.

Two mechanisms contribute to humanity’s perennial tendency to denigrate kids: (1) a person-specific tendency to notice the limitations of others where one excels, (ii) a memory bias projecting one’s current qualities onto the youth of the past.

In short, adults (especially in authoritative contexts) are more willing to ignore/denigrate the qualities of others, while comparing this to our biased & romanticized version of our own upbringing. No decline exists.

Screen time is good for you – maybe

A new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, doesn’t just swipe at the predominant thinking that kids should be exposed to as little screen time as possible—it argues that moderate screen time is actually good for kids.

The research is conducted by Andrew Przybylski, Amy Orben, and Netta Weinstein.

In a related thread, this piece by Lydia Denworth in Scientific American pulls these results together to suggest that our collective angst over technology is misplaced.

To Upgrade Your Leisure, Downgrade Your Phone

Cal Newport on “losing your taste for digital diversions by reacquiring an attraction to more nourishing pursuits.”

To succeed with this free-time transformation, ignore your initial instinct to simply tweak your habits. In my experience, small changes like turning off notifications or shuffling the icons on your smartphone don’t stick. The technological and cultural forces attracting you to your screens are too powerful. Instead, I suggest you follow the same general structure as my experiment: pick a length of time during which you take a break from all optional digital distractions, and allow the resulting boredom to motivate you to aggressively pursue higher-quality alternatives. The goal is to lose your taste for easy digital diversions and reacquire an attraction to more nourishing pursuits.


Google launches a suite of tools to help you spend less time on your phone

  • Unlock Clock helps you consider your tech usage, by counting and displaying the number of times you unlock your phone in a day.
  • Post Box lets you choose a time (or several over the course of the day) when you’d like to take them all at once.
  • Morph is an Android launcher that shows different apps based on time of day or your location.
  • We Flip is used in a group setting where we flip a switch that starts counting the amount of time the group has gone without anyone unlocking their phone.
  • Desert Island helps you focus on only the essential apps you need for a certain task or on a particular day.


enter image description here

Always ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.

Paulo Coelho

digilit banner

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.

Feel free to say hello at or on the social network of your choice.

Leave A Comment