Digitally Literate #234

Turning Cracks & Crevices Into Chasms
Digitally Lit #234 – 2/22/2020**

Hi all, welcome to issue #234 of Digitally Literate.

I posted and shared the following this week:

  • Digital Justice, Surveillance, & Invisible Walls – We released another episode of the Technopanic Podcast this week. This episode is a discussion with Chris Gilliard about privacy, security, algorithms, & how parents can help children be more reflective about the activities in which they engage.
  • Web Literate Educator – I have been slowing revising the open educational resource (OER) for the technology classes I teach. You can follow along here on the Google Site.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Feel free to reach out and let me know what you think of this work at


Russia hacked U.S. minds and undermined democracy, author says (7:02)

“Russian trolls were different from normal trolls,” says Clint Watts, a former U.S. government intelligence analyst who observed how Russia deployed a campaign of disinformation to discredit Hillary Clinton and help elect Donald Trump. Nick Schifrin talks with Watts, author of “Messing With the Enemy,” about what Americans can do to withstand future attempts by Russia to meddle in democracy.

Review the transcript here.


Mass propaganda used to be difficult, but Facebook made it easy

Mass propaganda used to be difficult, but Facebook made it easy.

In the past, authoritarian regimes wielded state-run media (hence, monopolization) to utilize propaganda to capitalize on preexisting beliefs, attitudes and fears (hence, canalization). While a state-run media infrastructure does not exist in the United States, thanks to Facebook’s microtargeting features, individual citizens can still find themselves in information environments monopolized by just one side.

For a deeper dive on this, read this report on Weaponizing the Digital Influence Machine: The Perils of Online Ad Tech from Data & Society.

Why the 2020 Election Will Be a Mess: It’s Just Too Easy For Putin

There has been some news here in the U.S. over the past week about the Russian disinformation campaigns and their interest in disrupting the 2020 Presidential campaigns.

Sadly, this is largely viewed through partisan lenses as opposed to thinking about how this impacts American institutions, and societies around the globe.

This same Kremlin playbook was deployed outside the United States as well – from Britain to France, Spain to Italy, Hungary to Montenegro, and elsewhere. For those who study Russian intelligence modus operandi, the pattern is clear.

As such, we can be confident that the 2020 election cycle will provide the Kremlin opportunities to pursue further subversion, disinformation, and deception. We should expect to see a barrage of disinformation, from fake think tanks, fake media outlets, false social media accounts, false identities, trolls, and bots to launder fringe narratives into the mainstream and hijack the public discourse.

To learn more about these practices, read this RAND Report on The Russian “Firehose of Falsehood” Propaganda Model.

The good news is that you’re in the right place. As these events present themselves, I’ll try and cover them from a balanced perspective to keep you more informed.

Climate Change Rises as a Public Priority. But It’s More Partisan Than Ever.

This article shares new research from the Pew Research Center on the growing partisan gap in our thinking about addressing climate change here in the U.S.

The challenge is that media channels are being used for disinformation campaigns in an attempt to shift blame and divert attention from climate change. We saw this playbook in the piece about Rupert Murdoch and Australia’s Bushfire Debate in Digitally Literate #228.

It will be interesting to see how the world addresses a changing environment when one of the major factors in this decision making process is partisanship.

Does the sharing economy share or concentrate?

As the future of work is constantly shifting, there is a movement to a sharing economy.

In this post, the authors consider the sharing economy as characterized by consumers or firms granting each other temporary access to their underutilized physical assets. This definition, adopted from Frenken and Schor (2017), can be decomposed into three components: (1) peer-to-peer exchange; (2) temporary access either through borrowing or renting; and (3) better use of underutilized physical assets.

The term sharing economy has often been used interchangeably with many other terms such as platform economy, gig economy, collaborative economy, and on-demand economy. Each of them in fact emphasizes different aspects of an emerging wave of changes to economic organization.

The piece goes on to consider whether this economy is beneficial for society, or if it generally consolidates resources for a chosen few.

The Case for Inclusive Teaching

Kevin Gannon with a must-read piece on the need for a focus on inclusive teaching in our institutions of higher education.

Gannon includes guidance that inclusive education rests on three imperatives:

  • That we treat all of our students equitably (which is related to, yet distinct from,“equally”);
  • That all of our students have full access to learning, and the tools they need to do so successfully and meaningfully;
  • That all of our students feel welcomed, supported, and valued as they learn


Setting Up Your Webcam, Lights, and Audio for Remote Work, Podcasting, Videos, and Streaming

A great guide for setting up a podcasting and video conferencing hub on your desktop.

I already have the mic from my podcasting. I just need to set up the lights and connect my camera to a swing arm. More to come on this front.

Thank you to Doug Belshaw’s Thought Shrapnel for this post.



Know from the rivers in clefts and in crevices: those in small channels flow noisily, the great flow silent.

Gautama Buddha

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Digitally Literate is a weekly review of the news, notes, tips, and tricks from the week that resonated with me. I leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs as I read online. Some of this I share on my social networks…much more I do not. At the end of the week, I review my notes and write up this newsletter.

This article focuses on the school district where my son goes to elementary school. The title indicates that students in a local school district are using Google Docs to bully each other. The real theme of the piece is far more sinister. The district is monitoring and surveilling students as they use the Chromebooks & Google Docs.

Yes, youth will always use texts & tools in their possession to vent, cry for help, or lash out. Yes, we should do all in our power to support, defend, & advocate for youth. But, large scale surveillance is too far. Instead of paying for tools and third parties to monitor youth…perhaps we should hire more teachers, hire more social workers and counselors, pay them what they’re worth.

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

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