Worth Our Embrace

Worth Our Embrace
Digitally Lit #238 – 3/21/2020**

Hi all, welcome to issue #238 of Digitally Literate.

I worked on the following this week:

The Online Learning Collective – Together with a group of new friends, we volunteered to start up a Facebook Group to support educators as they adapt to the challenges of bringing their courses online. As part of this work, we build up a website, and a mentored open online course to support a community in need. Several of us were interviewed yesterday.

Technopanic Podcast Special Episode – COVID-19 – This special episode of the Technopanic Podcast shares our thoughts about the challenges of parenting, and teaching in a global pandemic.

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 hello@digitallyliterate.net.


What Bill Gates is afraid of

What’s likeliest to kill more than 10 million human beings in the next 20 years? It’s probably not what you’d think.

There’s something out there that’s as bad as war, something that kills as many people as war, and Bill Gates doesn’t think we’re ready for it.

Read the whole story here on Vox.


I refuse to run a Coronavirus home school

This piece from Jennie Weiner talks about the challenges & concerns parents have a we think we need to recreate school at home.

My husband and I both work full time. Like so many others, we’re attempting to keep our family safe and fed during our state’s Covid-19 shutdown while simultaneously working to convince our boomer parents to practice social distancing, reaching out to other loved ones and friends and trying not to panic. Even when everything in our life is working the way it should, and with all the privileges we have — our solid health care, our economic stability, our whiteness — we often feel overwhelmed. So this pandemic felt like a bridge too far. We had to meet it head on: holding our breath, crossing our fingers. And not judging ourselves.

We live in Zoom now

Zoom is where we work, go to school and party these days. There is a lot of discussion about whether we’re ever going back to normal. As a result of social distancing, video conferencing apps have swooped in to keep us connected.

A reminder that requiring students to keep cameras on during Zoom calls is bad teaching practice.

Zoom has marketed this as a way to build community, it is not. Perhaps the real way to build community is to turn off the cameras.

Instead of this, you can identify opportunities to differentiate instruction to support learners. I also recommend this thread from Jenae Cohn on how to build community.

Coronavirus Is Speeding Up the Amazonification of the Planet

Brian Merchant with a piece examining how platform-based monoliths are vacuuming up customers, jobs, and chunks of our economy.

If restaurants, bars, and local shops close permanently while app-based monoliths hoover up the customers and the jobs, the trendline may be very difficult to reverse as we wade out of the wreckage. And this is not a future we want.

If It Doesn’t Make Sense… Refuse

John Warner questioning many of the policies and “mandatory” edicts that we use to motivate ourselves and others.

The emergent nature of the situation has revealed what is worth valuing and what is worth abandoning. It shows that constraints we are asked to live under are entirely artificial. If these things are worth abandoning in a crisis, what makes them worth adhering to under normal circumstances?

How the Coronavirus Helps Us Understand the Buddhist View of Our Interdependence

For centuries, Buddhism has offered the teaching that’s been called “dependent origination” or “interdependent origination.” This means that nothing exists independently in our world. Everything is interconnected as exist in a complex web of life that is continually changing.

We can only thrive as we become aware of how we affect each other. If we’re not able to hear each other’s feelings and needs, our relationships suffer. We thrive to the extend that we embrace our interdependence.


On Digital Minimalism and Pandemics

Cal Newport with some guidance as we strive for balance in these times.

There is, I propose, a simple two-part solution to this state of affairs.

First, check one national and one local new source each morning. Then — and this is the important part — don’t check any other news for the rest of the day. Presumably, time sensitive updates that affect you directly will arrive by email, or phone, or text.

This will be really hard, especially given the way we’ve been trained by social media companies over the past decade to view our phone as a psychological pacifier.

Which brings me to the second part of the solution: distract yourself with value-driven action; lots of action. Serve your community, serve your kids, serve yourself (both body and mind), produce good work. Try to fit in a few moments of forced gratitude, just to keep those particular circuits active.



Order in the absence of humanity and compassion is not worth our embrace.

John Warner

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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. Feel free to pay attention if you’d like to check my notes. 🙂

If you made it to the end of this week’s issue…perhaps you’d enjoy some Stardew Valley ASMR. 🙂

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