Chaos Surfing

Welcome back all! Here’s Digitally Literate, issue #346.

I recently sat down with Nate Hurst and Rachel Meisner from ActiveClass to talk about digital citizenship and literacy. You can watch the complete discussion here.

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

What’s with Columbus Day?

This week, we observed Indigenous Peoples Day here in the U. S.

To others, this day is known as Columbus Day, a federal holiday that commemorates Christopher Columbus’ landing in the Americas (the “New World”) on October 12, 1492. It became an official holiday in 1937. For many, the holiday honors Columbus’ achievements, celebrates Italian-American culture and heritage, and pays tribute to patriotism.

The primary sources of controversy involve Columbus and the other Europeans’ interactions with the indigenous people that led to hundreds of years of (1) violence and slavery, (2) forced assimilation and conversion of Native American people to Christianity, and (3) the introduction of a host of new diseases that would have dramatic long-term effects on Native American people.

The kaleidoscope: tracking young people’s relationships with news

To better understand younger audiences’ relationships with news, the Reuters Institute commissioned the strategic insight agency Craft to conduct qualitative research with 72 people aged 18–30 (24 per country) in Brazil, the UK, and the US.

This report details a kaleidoscopic variety of news behaviors and attitudes as well as topical and executional preferences driven by five key findings:

  • For young people, news can be ‘narrow’ or ‘broad’
  • Some young people selectively avoid ‘narrow,’ ‘serious’ news – at least some of the time
  • Many factors – both contextual and personal – influence a young person’s news consumption preferences and behaviors. The report discerns a typology of hobbyist/dutiful news consumers, main eventers, and the disengaged.
  • Young people are highly sceptical of most information and often question the ‘agenda’ of news purveyors
  • There is little consistency in what ‘young people’ want in terms of format – it is usually a matter of personal taste

Chaos surfing: from surviving to thriving in chaotic times

Living systems tend to initially respond to chaos by attempting to restore stability. However, problems arise when we try to apply a traditional solution to an adaptive problem. When new rules are emerging and the path forward is uncertain, here are four strategies you can experiment with to practice chaos surfing:

  • Make a pact to yourself
  • Create an anchor ritual
  • Practice metacognition
  • Don’t do it alone

“My Brother Is So Far Gone”: How Male Influencers Turned The Men In These People’s Lives Toxic

A series of interviews in which participants explain how loved ones have embraced deeply hateful and misogynistic worldviews since listening to “alpha male” influencers.

What makes this particular strain of content creation so insidious is how it’s packaged: most often as self-help for men who are struggling with real issues.

Annie Kelly explains: “There is an effect on social media in which the most radical, hardline rhetoric rises to the top because it drives so much engagement.”


Computer Science is Growing in K-12 Schools, But Access Doesn’t Equal Participation

Computer science has a wider footprint in schools than ever before, but there are differences when it comes to who has access to computer courses and who’s enrolling.

That’s according to the 2022 State of Computer Science Education report, released last week by the Code.org Advocacy Coalition, Computer Science Teachers Association, and the Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance.


Alex Jones Can’t Pretend His Way Out of This Reality

A jury has ordered Alex Jones to pay nearly $1 billion for defamation to the families of eight children who died at Sandy Hook.

As Alex Jones becomes a key figure in our national nervous breakdown and the far right’s assault on democratic processes, more and more people seem to want to try to understand him.

He’s less a journalist, he said during his testimony, and more of a curator of information. This is, of course, a 180-degree turn from Jones’s on-air bluster about his high-quality sourcing and researching, as well as Infowars’ incessant marketing as being on the front lines in the battle for truth.

Who lived on the land before you got there?

Trying to make sense of the heritage and culture of the lands you live on? Use the Native Land Disclaimer to search the area where you grew up…and see who was there before you showed up.

The ultimate, hidden truth of the world, is that it is something that we make, and could just as easily make differently.

David Graeber

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