Digitally Literate #223


What Tomorrow Holds
Digitally Lit #223 – 11/24/2019

Hi all, welcome to issue #223 of Digitally Literate, thanks for stopping by. Please subscribe if you would like this to show up in your email inbox.

This week’s issue is a day late as I was heading back from presentations at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) conference. It was good to see old friends, and make some new ones.

This week I posted the following:


Using AI to see which Celebs Photoshop/Facetune their Instagram pictures (13:54)

Researchers developed a process for recognizing photo manipulation and possibly undoing edits to photos.

Here is the research paper. Here is the tool on GitHub. Here is the iPhone app.

This would be very interesting to use with adolescents as you discuss social media, and the ways we present our digital identities.


Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information

More than 60% of Americans think it’s impossible to go through daily life without being tracked by companies or the government, according to a new Pew Research study.

There are several key takeaways:

  • Americans not only know that companies are collecting their data, they do not approve of these practices. About 69% of Americans are skeptical that companies will use their private information in a way they’re comfortable with, while 79% don’t believe that companies will come clean if they misuse the information.
  • Very few people read privacy policies, the survey shows. That’s understandable.
  • Clear differences by race. About 73% of black Americans, for instance, are at least a little worried about what law enforcement knows about them, compared with 56% of white Americans.
  • Among all respondents, more than 80% were concerned about what social-media sites and advertisers might know.
  • More than 80% of Americans feel they have no control over how their information is collected.

The collapse of the information ecosystem poses profound risks for humanity

In several of my discussions about digital literacy, I suggested that we’re in the middle of a full scale war of disinformation. Individuals and groups are effectively DDos’ing online readers through a steady stream of real news, fake news, and hyperbole.

This point was highlighted by several stories this week.

The first of which is the top link in this section around the collapse of the info ecosystem. Lydia Polgreen suggests the following:

We are currently facing a new systemic collapse, one that has built far more swiftly but poses potent risks for all of humanity: the collapse of the information ecosystem. We see it play out every day with the viral spread of misinformation, widening news deserts and the proliferation of fake news. This collapse has much in common with the environmental collapse of the planet that we’re only now beginning to grasp, and its consequences for life as we know it are shaping up to be just as profound.

The end result is that no one believes anything, and people tune out everything.

While we’re on the topic, there is more research from the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) that suggests that high schoolers are unable to go online and discern fact from fiction.

The Captured City

This week, Sacha Baron Cohen made news with his keynote at the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Never Is Now Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate. The address was funny and entertaining, while at the same time making good points about the role of social media and tech in society.

Mike Masnick in TechDirt counters this with a detailed critique of the points made by Cohen, but also shares good insight on the role of social technologies in our lives.

…it appears he’s getting the wrong message out of how people behave on the internet. Some people are bad and behave badly. But many more are wonderful, and the internet has enabled them to connect and communicate as well, often in much greater numbers, and enabled them to do even more powerful things for good. Because, as Jillette points out, most people are, in fact, pretty good deep down inside. Let’s not throw the internet “down the well” because some people misuse it. Let’s use the internet to spread more good ideas, better help people who need it, and focus on realistic ways to stop hatred, rather than fantastical ideas that sound like they came from the mind of “wanna-be-gangsta Ali G” rather than “brilliant” Sacha Baron Cohen.

Rethinking “resilience” and “grit”

‘Grit’ and ‘resilience’ have become buzzwords in educational circles as we praise determination, and an individual’s survival skills. Perhaps focusing on these traits skews conversations away from equity and solving the structural problems that have a real impact on people’s lives.

…resilience and grit are central elements of our American mythology. What is less commonly acknowledged is that there can be a Darwinian inflection to these terms, one that is well suited to our country’s current extreme capitalism.

What’s next for Ed-Tech? Critical hopes and concerns for the 2020s

A great future studies piece by Neil Selwyn, Thomas Hillman, Rebecca Eynon, Giselle Ferreira, Jeremy Knox, Felicitas Macgilchrist, & Juan M. Sancho-Gil.

The authors reflect on how education (and wider society) is changing. This is the introduction to a special issue of Learning Media & Technology that takes the new decade as a prompt to look forward to the near-future.

They ask what issues relating to education, media and technology might be at the forefront of our minds when 2030 comes around? More importantly, it serves as a reminder to consider how we should be preparing ourselves for these future contexts.


7 Simple Note Taking Techniques for Efficient Learning

The post shares seven techniques for note-taking:

I’m starting to get back into the habit of taking notes and journaling by hand. If you’re more of a digital person, perhaps this post will change your mind.


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The best preparation for the future is a well-spent today.

John Dewey

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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.

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