All That Becomes You

Welcome back all. Here is Digitally Literate, issue #318.

I posted the following this week:

  • Mind The Gap – The “gap” is the space between where we’re actually standing and where we want to be. It’s a call to action to live according to our values and culture, and not just talking about it.
  • Assessing My First Attempt at Ungrading – “…ungrading is provocative & attracts attention. But, as I develop my system, this is about my journey to decenter myself in learning environments.”

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The story of Replika, the AI app that becomes you

This week I started reading about men creating AI girlfriends and then verbally abusing them.

I’ve been trying to dig in more to the technology behind Replika to think about the impact on society.

This is no way to be human

Alan Lightman in The Atlantic writes about the challenges of living in an almost natureless world.

In the more frenzied and tech-heavy times of today, we require more effort to creep out of our close and crowded houses. But the poet Mary Oliver succeeded. In her 1972 poem “Sleeping in the Forest,” Oliver writes that she “slept as never before, a stone / on the riverbed, nothing between me and the white fire of stars / but my thoughts, and they floated / light as moths among the branches / of the perfect trees … By morning / I had vanished at least a dozen times / into something better.”

The woods are particularly restorative. Japanese doctors and psychologists have developed a mental therapy called “forest bathing” (shinrin-yoku). The idea is that spending time in nature—specifically walking through forests—might improve mental health.

Have we forgotten how to read critically?

Kate Hardin writes in Dame Magazine about the devastating consequences of combining a torrential flow of information with lousy reading and thinking.

Since the internet has made the entire world a library with no exits or supervisors, many readers treat every published piece of writing as a conversation opener, demanding a bespoke response.

Digital literacy doesn’t stop the spread of misinformation

A new study from MIT Sloan researchers takes a look at the role of digital literacy — familiarity with basic concepts related to the internet and social media — with mixed results.

Digital literacy is associated with more discerning judgment about what’s true and false, but it doesn’t seem to predict whether the person is more or less likely to share false information on social media.

Digital literacy matters…but it doesn’t make people less likely to share false information.

Suicide risk and social media: is it a landmine or a lifeline?

Jacqueline Nesi writes in Psyche about the narrative of technology wreaking havoc on society, destroying the mental health of its young people. Is it true?

Has the proliferation of social media caused a decline in mental health? Some researchers have argued as much, citing associations between digital media use and mental health outcomes such as depression. Yet others have challenged this view, arguing that these associations are inconsistent and too small to be practically meaningful. A controversial debate has unfolded among researchers and the general public. Is social media use good or bad for our mental health?

Nesi’s research suggests that outside of excessive use that interferes with daily functioning, the average frequency with which individuals use social media is not reliably associated with suicidality. Social connection is a major protective factor against suicide risk, and social media provides social support that is both immediate and accessible.

We can stop asking simply whether social media is good or bad for our mental health, and instead ask when and how social media affects us, as individuals.

Amid the Hype over Web3, Informed Skepticism Is Critical

Elizabeth M. Renieris suggests that without a critical perspective, familiar harms will not only be replicated; they will be exacerbated.

And increasingly apparent in the Web3 discourse is a kind of imaginative obsolescence: As one vision of the future rapidly replaces the next, the technologies and systems now in place suffer decay and disrepair. Our imaginations and resources are once again diverted from fixing or rehabilitating what exists. Meanwhile, familiar problems, inevitably, resurface. Imaginative obsolescence also upends efforts at effective technological governance — and perhaps that is exactly the point.

Cognitive load theory and its applications for learning

Scott H. Young on cognitive load theory, the framework that explains the limited mental bandwidth we have for dealing with new information, but no such limitations when dealing with previously mastered material.

This theory suggests three different types of demands as we learn new things:

  • Intrinsic load. The combined attention that’s necessary to learn the pattern that will be put into long-term memory.
  • Extraneous load. Unnecessary load distracts from learning the pattern. Obvious distractions that eat up working memory, such as television in the background, make learning harder.
  • Germane load. Efforts that improve learning outcomes but are not strictly necessary to learn the pattern. Some forms of germane load include self-explanations and retrieval practice, both of which are effortful but increase the ability to recall a pattern later.

Understanding means throwing away your knowledge

Thich Nhat Hanh

I really enjoyed these morning messages shared on the episode about misinformation on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

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

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