Complexifying Issues Since 2015


Holla back y’all. I just realized I’ve been writing this newsletter since 2015. Yikes.

This week I also posted the following:

  • Technology, Instruction, Learning in Teaching (TILT) Faculty Survey – This version of the TILT survey is designed for instructors in higher education and is designed to provide insight into the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that educators use as they integrate instructional technologies into instruction.
  • Technology, Instruction, Learning in Teaching (TILT) Student Survey – This version of the TILT survey is designed for students in higher education and is designed to provide insight into the instructional technologies students use in classes.
  • Finding Value in Life – Through conditioning of our mind and body, and as informed by sociocultural perspectives, we’ve created these narratives that we cannot break out of. What we need to power our future is a sense of mission.
  • Transform a Chore Into a Choice – Motivation becomes easier when we transform a chore into a choice. Doing so gives us a sense of control.

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 say hey at


The long fuse: Misinformation and the 2020 election(1:33:44)

A conversation on the release of the Election Integrity Partnership’s report, “The Long Fuse: Misinformation and the 2020 Election.”

This coalition of research institutions worked together to detect and mitigate viral misinformation and to support the real-time information exchange between the research community, election officials, government agencies, civil society organizations, and social media platforms.


Deepfake videos of Tom Cruise show the technology’s threat to society is very real

As regular readers of this newsletter, we’ve discussed deepfakes in the past. We saw deepfakes originate as celebrity faces were placed on the bodies of other individuals in porn videos. I had some concerns about talking about porn in this newsletter, but thought the technology was important.

The latest buzz around deepfakes comes from a series of videos of Tom Cruise have made their way onto TikTok under the handle @deeptomcruise.

Chris Ume, the creator of the videos makes it very clear this was the outcome of weeks of work and a Tom Cruise impersonator. This is not something that you can push a button and get a believable result. Yet.

Two years ago it would have been easy to differentiate between a real and an AI-generated video of somebody. But the technology is advancing so rapidly that we’ve reached a point where it is relatively easy to create something that further erodes public trust in a world where media literacy is poor and people already can’t agree on what’s true or false.

We need to know how to spot a deepfake without even watching the video.

Whitmer kidnapping plot hearing live feed: Confidential FBI informant testifies

Incredible story.

Man joins Facebook group recommended by algorithm. Man is invited into encrypted chat. Man learns of plot to kidnap Michigan’s Gov Whitmer and harm police. Mam becomes FBI informant & testifies against plotters.

We need to understand this isn’t just a story about free speech. This is the tools that need to be understood. We need to get to the bottom of the “design decisions” that define “the speed of social media.”

How to Reach People Who Are Wrong

Nicholas Kristof interviews Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton, and the author of Think Again.

has a smart new book out advising us to “Think Again,” in the words of his title. They explore what goes wrong when smart people are too righteous, and a need for intellectual humility. Approach every situation as an opportunity to learn something.

“Humility is often a more effective persuasive tool.”

What wins over people is listening, asking questions, and appealing to their values…not your own.

Lastly,“complexify” issues so they become less binary and more nuanced, enabling someone on the other side to acknowledge areas of ambivalence.

Parents welcome additional, post-COVID educational support for their kids

New NPR/Ipsos poll reveals cautious resilience and optimism regarding the current learning environment and their child’s progress.

Some findings:

  • Half of parents report their child is currently attending school remotely, full time. Another one in six (17%) are in a hybrid environment, part remote and part-time in-person.
  • There is broad support for returning in-person, in some capacity. Beyond that, parents are looking for additional resources and support for their kids’ mental and emotional health.


How to Defeat a Boston Dynamics Robot in Mortal Combat

Sharing this just in case you need it.


If you or someone nearby is being brutalized by a Spot robot and can get a hand or something underneath, grab the battery pack’s handle and yank it forward. This releases the battery, instantly disabling the robot. Keep your hands away from joints, Spot WILL crush your fingers.

Consult the video for more guidance.


How to poison the data that Big Tech uses to surveil you

Algorithms are meaningless without good data. The public can exploit that to demand change.

In a new paper researchers at Northwestern University propose three ways the public can exploit this to their advantage:

  • Data strikes, inspired by the idea of labor strikes, which involve withholding or deleting your data so a tech firm cannot use it—leaving a platform or installing privacy tools, for instance.
  • Data poisoning, which involves contributing meaningless or harmful data. AdNauseam, for example, is a browser extension that clicks on every single ad served to you, thus confusing Google’s ad-targeting algorithms.
  • Conscious data contribution, which involves giving meaningful data to the competitor of a platform you want to protest, such as by uploading your Facebook photos to Tumblr instead.

For more on this topic…check out this resource on how to shut stalkers out of your tech.



Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.

C. S. Lewis

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Not sure, but three TVs in my living room apparently is how to live your best life. And to think I needed to talk people into using two monitors in the office.

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