Digitally Literate #222


A Broken World
Digitally Lit #222 – 11/16/2019

Hi all, welcome to issue #222 of Digitally Literate, thanks for stopping by. Please subscribe if you would like this to show up in your email inbox.

This week I posted the following:


Lil Buck with Icons of Modern Art (3:56)

Do yourself a favor. Put on a pair of headphones and watch this short clip.

It should provide an amuse bouche as we begin to dig into the news for the week.


I’m the Google whistleblower. The medical data of millions of Americans is at risk

A whistleblower who works in Project Nightingale, the secret transfer of the personal medical data of up to 50 million Americans from one of the largest healthcare providers in the US to Google, has expressed anger that patients are being kept in the dark about the massive deal.

The secret scheme was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, involves the transfer to Google of healthcare data held by Ascension, the second-largest healthcare provider in the US. The data is being transferred with full personal details including name and medical history and can be accessed by Google staff. Unlike other similar efforts it has not been made anonymous though a process of removing personal information known as de-identification.

So the Internet didn’t turn out the way we hoped. Where do we go from here?

The Internet hasn’t lived up to all our dreams for it.

But it also may not conform to the nightmares (of misinformation, of alienation, of exploitation) that so many people spin around it now.

…after decades of imagining it as a utopia, and then a few years of seeing it as a dystopia — we might finally begin to see it for what it is, which is a set of powerful technologies in the midst of some serious flux.

Definitely check out this interactive piece from the NY Times.

The Captured City

Jathan Sadowski with an excellent look at how smart technologies are being used to make surveillance and infrastructure indistinguishable from one another.

The ‘smart city’ is not a coherent concept, let alone an actually existing entity. It’s better understood as a misleading euphemism for a corporately controlled urban future. The phrase itself is part of the ideological infrastructure it requires.

I also recommend checking out this piece from John Torpey in Forbes. Torpey connects the dots between surveillance communism to surveillance capitalism and beyond. Keep this in mind given the news I shared about Google acquiring FitBit.

Surveillance capitalism, less overtly intrusive, makes our online activities a source of data that private firms harvest for their profit. Self-surveillance, finally, transforms our daily activities into a source of data that we train on ourselves.

Education, privacy, and big data algorithms: Taking the persons out of personalized learning

Results of a literature review on philanthropy in education from Priscilla M. Regan and Valerie Steeves in First Monday.

The research examines the impact of philanthropy by technology company foundations (e.g., Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative) and education magazines have on personalized learning, while paying special attention to issues of privacy.

Findings suggest competing discourses on personalized learning revolve around contested meanings about the type of expertise needed for twenty-first century learning, what self-directed learning should look like, whether education is about process or content, and the type of evidence that is required to establish whether or not personalized learning leads to better student outcomes.

Privacy issues remain a hot spot of conflict between the desire for more efficient outcomes at the expense of “student privacy and the social construction of and expectations about data and surveillance.”

‘I am a scavenger’: The desperate things teachers do to get the classroom supplies they need

The Washington Post asked teachers throughout the country how much they spend on supplies, what they buy and why. Teachers — mostly in public school districts but also in charter, private and Catholic schools — sent more than 1,200 emails to The Post from more than 35 states. The portrait that emerges is devastating — and reveals that the problem has existed, without remedy, for decades. And it has gotten worse over time.

In a related story, this piece by Jon Marcus highlights the fact that funding for institutions of higher ed has regularly declined over the last decade.

Our system is broken. We are not investing in our future.


Entire YouTube Studio Setup on ONE DESK (12:09)

I’ve been rebuilding my office and will have some updates coming soon. One thing I’ve been investigating is setting up an easy setup to record video from my desk.

This setup from the DSLR Video Shooter YouTube channel looks great.


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We came into a broken world. And we’re the cleanup crew.

Kanye West

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Digitally Literate is a synthesis of the important things 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.

This I enjoyed listening to this interview of Noam Chomsky by Zack de la Rocha while finishing up the newsletter.

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