Hello friends! Welcome to Digitally Literate, issue #310.
This week I helped post the following:
- Infusing Computational Thinking into STEM Teaching: From Professional Development to Classroom Practice – We published a piece in a themed issue of Educational Technology & Society looking at how middle grades and high school teachers drew on existing knowledge and experiences to infuse STEM and computational thinking into teaching.
2021 is a critical year for climate change. According to the Paris Climate Agreement, governments must decide now on how to reduce the amount of carbon they pump into the atmosphere in order to avoid the most devastating consequences of global warming.
Are we on track to limit global warming to only 1.5 degrees Celsius? The Climate Action Tracker explains the good news and the bad news for the planet.
We spent a little over a month covering the Facebook Files. We’re seeing this expand beyond the Wall Street Journal reporting to 17 news outlets shared articles based on what have become collectively known as The Facebook Papers — leaked company documents and memos, courtesy of whistleblower Frances Haugen.
And yet, despite the bad press, profits at the company are better than ever. (ノ-_-)ノ ~┻━┻
On Tuesday, Twitter analytics service Bot Sentinel released a report examining Twitter activity related to the Sussexes and found that the majority of the hate and misinformation about the couple originated from a small group of accounts whose primary purpose appears to be to tweet negatively about them. 83 accounts are responsible for 70% of the social media trolling directed at Meghan Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, on Twitter. Combined, the accounts have over 187,000 followers.
Why is this important? First, I have not reviewed the work or reports of Bot Sentinel up until now. Second, it is amazing the impact a small, but a concentrated set of users can have online.
The news is reminiscent of similar stats that point to how a small group of users can have an outsized effect — like how just twelve accounts have been found to be responsible for a large proportion of the vaccine misinformation on social media.
AI assistants like Siri and Alexa can be useful if you speak common languages like English and Spanish, less so if you speak any one of the 1,000 languages in Africa, or even just speak with a specific dialect or accent.
Want to do something about it?
Mozilla is making a database of voice samples so software developers can more easily include your language and accent, and build it in a way that makes sure no language is left behind. You can donate your voice to help build an open-source voice database that anyone can use to make innovative apps for devices and the web.
Read a sentence to help machines learn how real people speak. Check the work of other contributors to improve the quality. It’s that simple!
The truth is, a thriving metaverse already exists. It’s incredibly high-functioning, with millions of people immersed in it for hours a day. In this metaverse, people have built uncountable custom worlds, and generated god knows how many profitable businesses and six-figure careers. Yet this terrain looks absolutely nothing the like one Zuckerberg showed off.
It’s Minecraft, of course.
We knew this day would come.
We’ve covered deepfakes for some time here in this newsletter. Deepfakes began as users could take the face and voice of someone famous and overlay that onto a pre-existing video. Most of the early deepfakes began as AI-generated synthetic media was used to create pornographic representations of real people.
According to deepfake researcher Henry Adjer, a new web app lets anyone upload a photo of a person and, using deepfake technology, superimpose their face into an adult video.
So far, the app exists in “relative obscurity,” and the MIT Tech Review post above refers to the platform only as “Y,” in an attempt to avoid inadvertently launching it into the mainstream.
Luckily, our level of self-compassion is not set in stone and it can be intentionally cultivated.
Being kinder to ourselves may give us a safe place to land, no matter where showing our vulnerability leads us. Then, we don’t need to have as much faith in the notion that everything will go smoothly if we share our struggles with others. We can have more trust in ourselves to handle the outcome either way.