All Kinds of Bad Behavior

Welcome back all. Here is Digitally Literate, issue #317.

I worked on a bunch of things in the background. Let’s see if anything takes root.

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Trolls Be Gone

Stephen Kinsella is the founder of Clean Up The Internet, an independent UK organization dedicated to improving the level of online discourse. In this post in Aeon, Kinsella suggests that anonymous users generate most of the toxic abuse and conspiracy theories online. The right to be anonymous should be curtailed.

The opening paragraph succinctly describes the last couple of years of my research and thinking.

We have come a long way from the optimism that surrounded the internet in the early 1990s. As Tim Berners-Lee has remarked several times, there was a ‘utopian’ view of its potential to democratize news and reinforce social cohesion. Indeed, only 10 years ago, we were celebrating the role that online communications played in the Arab Spring. Now, when the subject of social media is mentioned, it is far more often associated with organizations such as QAnon or the riots at the United States Capitol; with wild conspiracy theories, or the bullying and silencing of women and minority groups.

Inventing the Shipwreck

Zachary Loeb in Real Life as part of their Syllabus for the Internet series. Few things reveal the extent of our reliance on technology like having it suddenly and unexpectedly stop working.

Kitchen #26 (2021) by Samuel Richardson.

“Few things reveal the extent of our reliance on a particular technology quite like having that piece of technology suddenly and unexpectedly stop working. And though our days are punctuated by small and mildly annoying malfunctions, there is always the risk of more serious technological breakdowns, the sort that can truly turn our world upside down: the plane that crashes, the ship that gets stuck in the canal, the web platform outage that leaves us unsure how to communicate with the people we care about, or the power plant that melts down.

Smartphones are a new tax on the poor

Julia Ticona in Wired.

“…Connectivity to the internet is increasingly required to manage many different types of jobs in parts of low-wage labor markets far beyond ‘gig economy’ apps like Uber and Postmates. In ignoring these hidden kinds of connectivity, we don’t see their mounting costs, and the consequences for marginalized people. The requirement to maintain their connectivity constitutes a kind of new tax on low-wage workers. And well-meaning interventions focused on closing the digital divide haven’t addressed the powerful interests at work keeping it open.”

This Private Equity Firm Is Amassing Companies That Collect Data on America’s Children

Over the past six years, a little-known private equity firm, Vista Equity Partners, has built an educational software empire that wields unseen influence over the educational journeys of tens of millions of children. The companies the firm controls have scooped up a massive amount of very personal data on kids, which they use to fuel a suite of predictive analytics products that push the boundaries of technology’s role in education and, in some cases, raise discrimination concerns.

Vista Equity Partners has acquired controlling ownership stakes in some of the leading names in educational technology, including Ellucian, EAB, and PowerSchool.

The ed tech companies in Vista’s portfolio appear to operate largely independently, but they have entered into a number of partnerships that deepen the ties of shared ownership.

Watching A Lecture Twice At Double Speed Can Benefit Learning Better Than Watching It Once At Normal Speed

According to a new paper in Applied Cognitive Psychology speeding up the content consumption process may not negatively impact comprehension…to an extent.

Students watched two YouTube videos (one on real estate appraisals and the other on the Roman Empire) at normal speed, 1.5x speed, 2x speed, or 2.5x speed. They were told to watch the videos in full screen mode and not to pause them or take any notes. After each video, the students took comprehension tests, which were repeated a week later. The results were clear: the 1.5x and 2x groups did just as well on the tests as those who’d watched the videos at normal speed, both immediately afterwards and one week on. Only at 2.5x was learning impaired.

Use Zotero as a bookmark manager

I’ve used many tools to keep track of my bookmarks as I read online. For the past couple of years, I’ve been using Pinboard to openly share bookmarks.

With the new year, I’ve been trying out new tools to change up my workflow. One of those tools is testing out Zotero, the open source reference manager to collect everything. I’m really happy with the results so far.

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.

Malcolm X

All kinds of bad behavior is on the rise. Is society falling apart at the seams…or is it just the U.S.?

Say hey at or on the social network of your choice.

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