Digitally Literate #225


Real, flawed Users
Digitally Lit #225 – 12/07/2019

Hi all, welcome to issue #225 of Digitally Literate, thanks for stopping by. Please subscribe if you would like this to show up in your email inbox.

This week my latest research piece was finally made available online from CITE. It is titled Educate, Empower, Advocate: Amplifying Marginalized Voices in a Digital Society.

I examine how activists use digital, social technologies for the purposes of amplifying marginalized voices & enacting social change. I considered whether (& how) these texts & practices may be used in the classroom.

This week I also was at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Literacy Research Association (LRA) presenting talking about technology, education, and computational thinking. More to come soon.


How to Simplify Your Life (6:34)

As you start thinking about the end of the year…and possibly making some changes…think about adding to your life by subtracting.

Read more about the connections between simplicity and anxiety here.


Nothing Lasts Forever – Not Even on The Internet

An interesting, interactive piece by Annalee Newitz looking at the current and future reach of the Internet. Newitz unpacks whether it is possible to create a form of digital communication that promotes consensus-building and civil debate, rather than divisiveness and conspiracy theories.

The piece includes threads of an interview with sci-fi author John Scalzi.

The article examines the unintended consequences that flow from new discoveries. When we think about new technologies and their role in society, we need to consider the real, flawed people who will use it…not the idealized consumers in promotional videos.

Scalzi imagines a new wave of digital media companies that will serve the generations of people who have grown up online and know that digital information can’t be trusted. Scalzi hypothesizes this new generation will care about who is giving them the news, where it comes from, and why it’s believable.

They will not be internet optimists in the way that the current generation of tech billionaires wants,” he said with a laugh. They will not, he explained, believe the hype about how every new app makes the world a better place: “They’ll be internet pessimists and realists.”

TikTok Admits It Suppressed Videos by Disabled, Queer, and Fat Creators

TikTok Admits It Suppressed Videos by Disabled, Queer, & Fat Creators.

I’ve heard a lot about TikTok over the last couple of months in my communities. I’ve explored the possible use of this as a replacement for Vine and playing with content creation.

This story is another example of why it is important to understand code, data privacy, algorithms, & the ethics/ethos behind these technology companies.

Truth, Lies, and Digital Fluency

Good friend Doug Belshaw was given a title and description by equally good friend Bryan Alexander. This was for one segment of ITHAKA’s The Next Wave Conference in New York City.

Belshaw was asked to respond to whether or not we should continue to question the trustworthiness of digital information…and how much worse can it get.

I always enjoy materials from Doug’s presentations not only from the ideas he shares, the format in which he shares it. We can all learn a lot from the thought and transparency he bakes in to everything. The slides are available here…and also here on the Internet Archive.

Why parents in a school district near the CIA are forcing tech companies to erase kids’ data

Parents at a public school district in Maryland have won a major victory for student privacy. Tech companies that work with the school district now have to purge the data they have collected on students once a year.

Experts say the district’s “Data Deletion Week” may be the first of its kind in the country.

We have to wonder why this doesn’t happen elsewhere in Pre-K up through higher education.

After 10 Years of Hopes and Setbacks, What Happened to the Common Core?

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were one of the most ambitious education effort in U.S. history. This piece asks whether the initiative failed, or it just needs more time to work.

The article suggests that more time, and a more integrated intervention were needed. These include connections between textbooks, curricular materials, and teacher development.

There is also a need to focus on early childhood education, teacher training/development/pay, school integration, and poverty alleviation programs.


Attention! Sign up for the 2020 Digital Detox…on attention

As we head to the end of 2019, and the start of 2020, perhaps you might want to re-examine your screentime.

You might want to sign up for the 2020 Digital Detox from Digital Learning and Inquiry (DLINQ) group at Middlebury College. The focus of this year’s initiative is Attention in the Attention Economy.

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I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.

Charlotte Brontë

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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.

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


  1. Aaron Davis
    December 8, 2019 at 5:57 am

    Another great read Ian.
    I was particularly taken by the piece about erasing kids’ data. In particular, I was intrigued by what data is deleted.

    While not all student data is deleted that week, the district works to clean much of students’ digital slates over the summer, including data collected by Google and by GoGuardian, which tracks students’ web searches, according to Peter Cevenini, the district’s chief technology officer.
    The district demands more than a vague assurance from tech companies that the data has been erased: “They send us a certification that officially confirms legally that the information has been deleted from their servers,” Cevenini said.

    I would assume that students would still have access and ownership over their content and that it is the periphery that is stripped out? Imagine if instead of simply deleting, students were actually given insight into the data that is both captured and deleted?
    Hope all is well,

    • wiobyrne
      December 9, 2019 at 12:11 pm

      Thanks Aaron! I agree with you. I would like to see a space/place where students start building, and own their data as they create it over time. By shifting the responsibility to the user, and taking it away from the silos…we not only teach learners how to exist in these spaces, but also give them power over their data.

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