A Better Way To Count

Hi all! Welcome back to Digitally Literate. This is issue #304.

I worked on a couple of things in the background. One of which was an application for funding to open a STEAM Education and Research Center. We’ll learn more this week and I need to attend a Technical Assistance Workshop where the Commission on Higher Education tells us what they’ll fund. More to come soon.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Reach out and say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

Coping With Stress & Caring for Mental Health During COVID-19

Coronavirus is affecting all of us. It’s taking a toll on our mental health and psychological well-being. This video from the Stanford Center for Health Education is a good starting point for discussions.

I also value this video from the International Committee of the Red Cross and this video from Osmosis.

A Detroit community college professor is fighting Silicon Valley’s surveillance machine. People are listening.

This week we celebrate Chris Gilliard. Anytime Chris writes something, it is a mandatory read and inclusion in this newsletter.

Take some time this weekend to skim through this great Twitter thread compiled by Charles Logan.

Chris Gilliard grew up with racist policing in Detroit. He sees a new form of oppression in the tech we use every day.

Chris Gilliard poses for a photo at his home in Dearborn, Michigan on July 30. The teacher at Macomb Community College tries to keep his face off of the Internet as much as possible.


Facebook Says Its Rules Apply to All. Company Documents Reveal a Secret Elite That’s Exempt.

I’ve slowly been digging into the Facebook Files, A Wall Street Journal investigation. Each week in this newsletter we’ll slowly unpack these stories and add some context.

A program, known as “cross check” or “XCheck,” was initially intended as a quality-control measure for actions taken against high-profile accounts, including celebrities, politicians, and journalists. Today, it shields millions of VIP users from the company’s normal enforcement process. Some users are “whitelisted”—rendered immune from enforcement actions—while others are allowed to post rule-violating material pending Facebook employee reviews that often never come.

“We are not actually doing what we say we do publicly,” said the confidential review. It called the company’s actions “a breach of trust” and added: “Unlike the rest of our community, these people can violate our standards without any consequences.”

Facebook is not actually doing what they say publicly. Facebook routinely makes exceptions for powerful actors. This problem is pervasive, touching almost every area of the company.


Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show

More from the Facebook Files.

For the past three years, Facebook has been conducting studies into how its photo-sharing app affects its millions of young users. Repeatedly, the company’s researchers found that Instagram is harmful to a sizable percentage of them, most notably teenage girls.

In public, Facebook has consistently played down the app’s negative effects on teens and hasn’t made its research public or available to academics or lawmakers who have asked for it.

Craig Silverman points out in this thread that people inside Facebook try to enact real change but ultimately are shut down by leadership and culture at the top of the organization. Growth, revenue, and public image all win out…over what is best for the humans using the social network.


It’s not the ‘Great Resignation’ but the ‘Great Reprioritization’

Some 4 million people quit their jobs in April. But the spike in the quit rate is partly due to pent-up demand after two years of employees sitting tight during a volatile economic environment. We’re also relatively on-trend with respect to the rising quit rate over the last decade.

Scott Dust with research suggesting that employees might be reprioritizing their lives, and employment status based on the following categories.

Five reasons that would likely cause an employee to begin a search:

  • Financial needs: The compensation is not competitive.
  • Work–home balance: The work is so demanding you don’t have enough time or energy left to enjoy non-work activities.
  • Remote work policies: Misalignment in remote work preferences and organizational policies.
  • Current job disinterest: You don’t like the day-to-day tasks of your job.
  • Concern about job and organization stability: You are worried your job might go away.

Five reasons that would be the least likely to spur a job search:

  • Stagnation: There are limited opportunities for moving up in the organization.
  • Need for autonomy. The job/organization doesn’t allow you to make your own decisions.
  • Lack of growth: There are limited opportunities to be challenged or learn something new.
  • Inclusion or belonging: You don’t feel like part of the “in group” or you don’t feel like your uniqueness is appreciated.
  • Social impact: You don’t connect with the value that your organization is offering to customers or society at large.

How finger counting gives away your nationality

It’s no coincidence that we have 10 digits on our hands and the most common number systems have 10 digits. This way of counting (called a base 10 system) probably arose because we have 10 fingers. If we had evolved with 8 or 12 fingers, our number system might be quite different. And the word “digit” in the sense of numerals comes from the Latin digitus, meaning finger or toe – because of the way we use them to count.

But it turns out that people around the world have vastly different techniques for keeping track of numbers on their hands.

It’s a Good Day to Update All Your Devices. Trust Us

iOS, Windows, and Chrome all have zero-day vulnerabilities that hackers are going after. Now that the fixes are here, you need to install them ASAP.

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed a zero-click attack known as Forced Entry in this newsletter. Citizen Lab points out that this attack was primarily focused on political dissidents, but that will not stop you from getting targeted at some point.

Go add your security patches now.

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside while still alive. Never surrender.

Tupac Shakur

Lately, I’ve been reading up on the latest books about how and why COVID-19 crushed us. Here are some book reviews by Alex Tabarrok to get you going.

I’m enjoying The Premonition right now. I love everything by Michael Lewis, so this is an easy recommendation.

Next up is Uncontrolled Spread and then Nightmare Scenario.

If you get reading in these areas, let me know at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

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