Tolerance for Discomfort

Hi all! Welcome back to Digitally Literate. This is issue #302.

I worked on a bunch of things in the background. I hope you’re taking some time this weekend to recharge and make you feel good.

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Is Mycelium Fungus the Plastic of the Future?

Plastic changed the course of manufacturing forever, but came at a cost. Mycelium technology might be the solution and the next big boom. A plastic-like replacement with so many uses and new opportunities for products, companies, and profits. The Undecided with Matt Ferrell explores mycelium technology and how it can help us achieve a more renewable and cleaner future.

Read more here.

Australia is becoming a surveillance state

The Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020 gives the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) three new powers for dealing with online crime:

  1. Data disruption warrant: gives the police the ability to “disrupt data” by modifying, copying, adding, or deleting it.
  2. Network activity warrant: allows the police to collect intelligence from devices or networks that are used, or likely to be used, by those subject to the warrant
  3. Account takeover warrant: allows the police to take control of an online account (e.g. social media) for the purposes of gathering information for an investigation.

The two Australian law enforcement bodies, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) will soon have the power to modify, add, copy, or delete your data should you become a suspect in the investigation of a serious crime.

The New Puritans

How much intellectual life is now stifled because of fear of what a poorly worded comment would look like if taken out of context and spread on Twitter?

This seems like an opportunity to remember that “Twitter is not real life.” For the vast majority of people who aren’t public figures with a large social media following, “cancel culture” has no real effect on their lives for good or bad.

But, we should be aware that for a small minority it does matter, and we should pay attention when anyone is silenced. At the core of all of it is the idea that we can guarantee equal outcomes for all individuals. It’s much more complicated problem that some make it out to be.

One quote sticks out to me in particular.

What many of these people—the difficult ones, the gossipy ones, the overly gregarious ones—have in common is that they make people uncomfortable. Here, too, a profound generational shift has transpired. “I think people’s tolerance for discomfort—people’s tolerance for dissonance, for not hearing exactly what they want to hear—has now gone down to zero,” one person told me. “Discomfort used to be a term of praise about pedagogy—I mean, the greatest discomforter of all was Socrates.”

The brilliance in these culture wars is that we can’t help ourselves but engage. It’s a solid strategy for groups to focus themselves, and identify an enemy.

On Mirrors, Windows, and Telescopes

A brilliant piece by Stephanie Toliver extending a literary metaphor to better understand the intersection between reality and possibility.

In her groundbreaking piece “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors,” Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop explored how books can transform the human experience and reflect it back to the reader (mirrors), how texts can offer views of real, imagined, strange, or familiar worlds (windows), and how literature can enable readers to walk through the printed text and become part of the world created by the author (sliding glass doors).

Toliver adds the following:

Through telescopes, children—especially those whose access to futures and fantasies has been distorted by violence and oppression—will be able to see that those futuristic and fantastical landscapes are actually closer than they first appeared to be.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Resources for Teaching About Digital Culture

A great resource with insight from thought leaders, books, articles, videos and podcasts on the following topics:

Why We Shout During an Argument (and Why It’s Not Effective)

Vanessa Bohns, a professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University, wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “[W]hile we often are overconfident in our beliefs, the tendency to shout—whether over our neighbors, friends, or adversaries—comes from underconfidence in our ability to convince others.”

Instead of yelling, gentle persuasion tends to be the most effective. Pointing out the disconnect between what a person thinks and says versus what a person does, or what they recommend for others versus themselves.

Another strategy is to ask questions, to get someone to articulate what their thoughts and views are, which is a way of getting them to engage in the topic, and think it through.

How to navigate covid news without spiraling

As the pandemic changes so quickly, there’s a better way to think about getting and sharing the information you need.

  • Beware the “scariant”-industrial complex
  • Information changes, and that’s okay
  • Focus on what’s most useful

The problem is not people being uneducated.

The problem is that people are educated just enough to believe what they have been taught, and not educated enough to question anything from what they have been taught.

Richard Feynman

I’m a Luddite. You should be one too. 🙂

Come BS with me at or on the social network of your choice.

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