Fear of Finding Out

Welcome back all! Here’s Digitally Literate, issue #344.

Many of you reached out last week after I posed the question about religion. Jim Burke suggested that we all take a look at The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America by Frances Fitzgerald. It’s next on my list to read.

I also received a request from Donna Alvermann to create a space where readers of DL could convene to talk, think, connect, and create. Let me know if you would find value in this type of space…or have some ideas of how it might be built.

Please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Reach out and say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

Why are you so angry? Part 2: Angry Jack

As part of my class on gaming, identity, and gamergate, this video is the next in the series.

The class uses, and this video series isn’t just about GamerGate, it’s about a social discourse phenomenon that we’re seeing online, and GamerGate is a means to have that discussion.

Who can it be now?

Emma Stamm with a long form piece on the “fluid self” on social networks, and how this is not a rejection of personal branding but another manifestation of it. Take some time to check out Stamm’s personal website.

This piece is a response to a piece I shared earlier this year titled The Personal Brand Is Dead that suggested that standards features of brandable web presence are being rejected by youth who find it natural to be confusing and inscrutable online. Stamm suggests “Our algorithmic self may or may not be faithful to how we see ourselves, but it has just as many dimensions and secrets. Whether we generate data deliberately or not, more information makes this shadow figure more economically valuable.


‘Pre-bunking’ shows promise in fight against misinformation

In a published study, the researchers detail how short online videos that teach basic critical thinking skills can make people better able to resist misinformation.

Researchers behind the Inoculation Science team and Jigsaw, a unit within Google dedicated to tackling threats to open societies, compare it to a vaccine. By giving people a “micro-dose” of misinformation in advance, it helps prevent them falling for it in future—an idea based on what social psychologist’s call “inoculation theory.”

The research team created 90-second clips designed to familiarize users with manipulation techniques such as scapegoating and deliberate incoherence.


Rattling the cage

Rhian Sasseen with a piece about claiming authorship in the age of the internet.

Sasseen reflects on her past as a social media manager and relates to the protagonist in Henry James’s 1898 novella In the Cage, a young, female, unnamed telegram operator in London who passes her days as a kind of ghost, sending and receiving other people’s messages, other people’s words.

She is the conduit for so many other people’s lives—all while remaining essentially invisible. Every letter, every piece of punctuation, every “STOP” must pass through her, but she herself leaves behind no trace. Not even when she tries to intervene, to insert herself into the story—not even when she tries to better shape the goings-on of Captain Everard and Lady Bradeen—can she truly claim authorship. She is brimming with words, too many words, she spills over with too much information. “She had seen all sorts of things and pieced together all sorts of mysteries,” is how James writes it. And yet she does not garner a name.


The relief of missing out: Anticipated anxiety is a big reason why more people are avoiding the news

Move over FOMO (Fear of missing out). There is a new influence on how we consume, or avoid media and the news. Perhaps this is (FOFO) Fear of Finding Out. ( ‾́ ◡ ‾́ )

A new paper from Benjamin Toff and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen titled How News Feels: Anticipated Anxiety as a Factor in News Avoidance and a Barrier to Political Engagement, draws from in-depth, hour-long interviews with 43 U.K. residents who say they avoid news.


YouTuber Builds Wild-Looking Ion Thruster With No Moving Parts, and It Actually Works

Ionic propulsion is typically pretty weak. Ionic thrusters are not in the same league as something like a ducted fan or a jet engine when it comes to producing a big quantity of thrust. However, this setup has potential.

Unselfing Social, an invitation from Maria Popova

Maria Popova is the researcher and author of The Marginalian (formerly Brain Pickings). In an earlier post, Popova focuses on the work of Iris Murdoch and the concept of unselfing.

Popova challenges us to take one month and make the focus of one in every three things we share on social media something other than ourselves or our own work. Highlight the life, work, art, or projects of a friend.

When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Pharoah Sanders, the revered and influential tenor saxophonist who explored and extended the boundaries of his instrument, notably alongside John Coltrane in the 1960s, died Saturday morning in Los Angeles. Sanders was 81 years old.

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

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