Just Like Unicorns

Welcome back all! This is Digitally Literate, issue #306. Make sure you take time to rest and recharge your batteries.

This week I posted some of the following:

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.

How algorithms shape our world – Kevin Slavin

Kevin Slavin argues that we’re living in a world designed for — and increasingly controlled by — algorithms. In this riveting talk he shows how these complex computer programs determine espionage tactics, stock prices, movie scripts, and architecture.

Slavin also warns that we are writing code we can’t understand with implications we can’t control.

The Melting Face Emoji Has Already Won Us Over

I absolutely love using emoticons, emoji, and GIFs in my digital communications. (I would like to note that I just spent 30 minutes trying to figure out the plural of emoji).

At first, I felt foolish and didn’t think that it was appropriate for an English teacher, and literacy researcher to use these forms of text. That was until Doug Belshaw suggested that meaning and tone are often lost in text online. This text is often important to fill in emotional cues otherwise missing from typed conversation.

I’m loving this melting face emoji, and think it needs a permanent spot in my repertoire.

The article point out that the first emojis were created in 1999 by Shigetaka Kurita, who found inspiration in manga. The original set of 176 emojis is now part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art.


Facebook Employees Flag Drug Cartels and Human Traffickers. The Company’s Response Is Weak, Documents Show.

We’re continuing to unpack the Facebook Files, A Wall Street Journal investigation. Internal documents revealed that Facebook was aware of the platform being used by drug cartels and human traffickers in developing countries, but the social media giant did little to stop it.

In some countries, Facebook has limited people who speak the dialects needed to identify criminal uses of the platform. In these places it deems the harm as “simply the cost of doing business,” a former Facebook vice president said. One document also revealed that the company had suggested using “a light touch” with Arabic-language warnings about human trafficking so as not to “alienate buyers.”

It is an understatement to say that Facebook is very flawed. Kate Klonick asks what will we do about it?


What almost 150 studies say about how to motivate students

A meta-analysis of over 144 studies on sparking student motivation from elementary school through university suggest teachers are more influential than parents. Pathways to Student Motivation: A Meta-Analysis of Antecedents of Autonomous and Controlled Motivations, by Julien S. Bureau, Joshua L. Howard, Jane X. Y. Chong, & Frédéric Guay was published online in September 2021 in the Review of Educational Research. 

The concrete things that teachers can do may seem unrelated to student motivation at first glance….teachers listen to the thoughts and feelings of students and respond to them with empathy. Another suggestion is to explain rules and requirements so that students can understand why they’re being asked to do them. And he recommends that teachers give students choices and allow them to personalize assignments.


So You’ve Decided to Hate Greta Thunberg

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been following the events and news leading up to the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, UK, starting on October 31st.

As part of this, Greta Thunberg has received a lot of attention, especially for her “blah, blah, blah” comments.

What surprised me is the level of hate and vitriol adults have given this individual. I was listening to a discussion on the radio where the hosts proceeded to discuss the speech, and call Thunberg a number of horrible things. The hosts ultimately stopped to check her age to “see if she was old enough to say these things” and then continued on with their diatribe.

This post by James Fell in the Sweary History newsletter is the perfect response to individuals like this. Please note, you’ll see some bad words there.


Slow Down With These Serene City-Building Games

During these stressful times, more of us are playing video games than ever before. As a result, we’re seeing a “string of trance-like game experiences in recent years; slowly expanding towns lull the mind, alleviating stress in a manner altogether less frenetic than regular blockbuster titles.”

You might want check out IslandersTownscaperCloud Gardens, and Dorfromantik if you’re on Steam.

How to Easily Automate Your Tasks: 5 Useful Tools

You could, and should automate tasks or activities based on time, location, or anything else. Here’s the steps to follow. The post shares many of the tools I use on a daily basis.

  1. Write Down the Daily Tasks
  2. Research
  3. Find Out the New Workflow
  4. Execute the Plan
  5. Evaluate and Test

Join with all those who experiment, take risks, fall, get hurt, and then take more risks. Stay away from those who affirm truths, who criticize those who do not think like them, people who have never once taken a step unless they were sure they would be respected for doing so, and who prefer certainties to doubts.

Paulo Coelho

For those of you that haven’t been following me on Instagram, (archived here on Flickr or my website if you cannot stand Insta), I document meaningful words that I come across daily. Some of my favorite things to share is some of the stuff my kids say. I document it so I can remember the moments long after they’ve passed.

My daughter had a gem yesterday while sharing a story from school.

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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