Force Multipliers

Hi all. Welcome to Digitally Literate, issue #327.

I worked on the following this week:

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.

Data Brokers: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

John Oliver discusses how much data brokers know about us, what they’re doing with our personal information, and one….unusual way to change privacy laws.

The ‘Last Week Tonight’ host paid shady brokers for lawmakers’ digital histories — promising not to release the info so long as Congress passes legislation protecting all consumers’ data.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Detecting Bullshit

Fascinating piece about evolutionary biologist Carl Bergstrom studying the spread of misinformation. Bergstrom sees social media through an evolutionary lens. BTW…Bergstrom’s website is awesome. Go take a peek.

The popular platforms exploit humanity’s need for social validation and constant chatter, a product of our evolution, he says. He compares it to our craving for sugar, which was beneficial in an environment where sweetness was rare and signaled nutritious food, but can make us sick in a world where sugar is everywhere. Facebook exploits humans’ thirst for contact, in his view, like a Coca-Cola for the mind, allowing people to connect with others in larger numbers during a single day than they might have over a lifetime in humanity’s past.

The social media companies are able to run the largest scale psychological experiments in history by many orders of magnitude, and they’re running them in real time on all of us.


The problem with social media is not content but its distortion of reality

Just last year, the Aspen Institute commissioned a six-month study that concluded that the misinformation and disinformation propagated by social media create “a chain reaction of harm,” acting as a “force multiplier for exacerbating our worst problems as a society.” 

Louis Rosenberg suggests that we’re distracted from the real problems with social media. He suggests that it distorts our collective intelligence and degrades our ability to make good decisions about our future by bending our perceptions of the public sphere. To address these challenges, we need transparency in targeting of users to allow each of us to build a more accurate mental model of our society.


Students’ Career Interests Are Changing. Here Is Why Our Teaching Must Change, Too

The world is changing. Youth are preparing for careers that do not currently exist. Traditional narratives about success, worth, and identity are no longer believed and propagated by newer generations. We are moving away from the notion that success is a guaranteed outcome if you study hard and go to college. There is no longer a linear approach to building fulfilling lives.

There is a need for those of us in the field of education to examine our biases around the perceived necessity for traditional instructional approaches.


Why community matters so much — and how to find yours

As social creatures, humans need interpersonal contact to survive. Becoming a member of communities helps build social diversity. However, finding community is much different from just making friends.

David McMillan suggests that community is defined by four criteria:

  • membership: You must feel a sense of belonging.
  • influence: feel like you make a difference to the group and that the group makes a difference to you.
  • integration and fulfillment of needs: feel like your needs will be met by other group members
  • shared emotional connection: feel that you share history, similar experiences, time, and space together

Britney Falls In Love

A really interesting piece about healing from trauma in an age of social media. To follow Britney’s Instagram feels akin to following any other account that trades in affirmation and self-love.

Her presence feels at once guileless, authentic, and erratic. It lacks all the polish and preciousness of her contemporaries. And that jaggedness makes total sense: For the first time in her life, Britney seems to be authoring her own image.

Stop sabotaging your future

One of the things that may be standing in front of the goals you’ve set for future you is present you. Here’s how to understand and overcome a bias toward the present you.

“Present bias, this idea that what happens right now counts fully and what happens in the future counts half, explains this gap between our good intentions and our actions. Because when we look into the future, we say, ‘In the future I’ll do the right thing.’ But when we get there, we want to go for immediate gratification.” – Harvard professor David Laibson.

  1. Make desired behaviors automatic – Don’t count on willpower or your memory to get it done.
  2. Use urgency to make the future feel like the present – Don’t wait for tomorrow.
  3. Keep the goal in sight – Don’t push it too far off into the future.
  4. Instantly reward yourself for behaviors that benefit the long-term goal – Give yourself rewards in the moment.
  5. Bind yourself to a better future with a Ulysses Pact – Build some accountability in your plans.

The five separate fingers are five independent units. Close them and the fist multiplies strength. This is organization.

James Cash Penney

When was the last time?!?! (ノ^_^)ノ

Say hey at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

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