Compounding Optimism

Welcome to Digitally Literate, issue #370.

This summer has been busy as I’ve been coaching my son’s volleyball team, heading away for work, and renovating our garage. As a result, issues of DL have been spotty over the last month. I’m going to step away from the newsletter and disconnect for the remainder of the summer. I’ll be gone till September.

Over the past week, I’ve worked on the following:

Please subscribe if you want this newsletter to appear in your inbox. I’m also posting the newsletter to Substack for a bit. Reach out and say hello at

An Incredible Stop-Motion Animation of a Samurai Fight

This is a pilot version of the stop-motion samurai film that tells the story of “Jingoro Hidari,” a legendary Edo-era craftsman. All the characters are made by wood and animated frame by frame, just like how Jingoro’s wooden sculptures came to life in his many anecdotes. We hope you enjoy this film, which mixes dynamic actions as seen in Japanimation, and the rich analog expressions of stop-motion animation.

The behind-the-scenes version is here.

Don’t Join Threads—Make Threads Join You

This week, Meta, the parent company of Facebook released Threads, their competitor to Twitter. Since Elon Musk bought Twitter, he seems intent on killing Twitter through a series of questionable decisions. Before you run off and sign up for Threads, keep in mind that although Instagram is hugely popular, we regularly see waves of “Delete Facebook” pop up here in DL around issues of privacy, security, data, and identity.

While I had an initial reaction of “hell no” to signing up for Threads, I’m intrigued by the indication that the app will be federated and work with decentralized networks, and soon support the ActivityPub standard. This means that you don’t need to actually join Threads. You can stay on your Mastodon or another decentralized network, and at some point, Threads users will be able to connect with you.

I know that for most DL readers, this all seems super confusing. I’ll have an upcoming post unpacking terms like decentralized, federated, and ActivityPub. For now, read this post from Eugen Rochko, the founder of Mastodon, the poster child for the decentralized social web.

Why this matters. Threads is super popular because Meta opened up the floodgates to allow you to connect your Facebook and/or Instagram account and get onboarded quickly. It remains to be seen what Meta will do with the app and platform.

How can I assess learning if ChatGPT can write assignments?

Philippa Hardman with a great post about assessment in an AI world.

  • Write Inquiry-Based Objectives. Inquiry-based objectives focus not just on the acquisition of knowledge but also on the development of skills and behaviors, like critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and research skills.
  • Design a Project for Each Inquiry-Based Objective. Choose a real-world scenario, project or problem statement related to the objective which puts the project into a real-world context that will make sense to the learners.
  • Design Performance-Based Assessments for Each Project. When gauging learner success in an inquiry-based approach, it’s essential to create a comprehensive mark scheme that considers not only knowledge acquisition but also skills development and methods demonstrated during the inquiry process.

Why this matters. What is the purpose of shifting to inquiry-based objectives in the post-AI classroom? Why are we doing this? Why hasn’t this happened earlier?

Generative Textbooks

David Wiley with an insightful post unpacking what the future of textbooks may look like in an age of generative AI. I did a ton of research and digging on the future of textbooks for this post, but I think Wiley takes this one step further.

Why this matters. For many individuals, reading, especially reading dense materials is a challenge. IMHO, active reading such as this could help open up doors for many learners.

How to Teach Kids About Sexism

Children as young as two or three years old begin to develop gender stereotypes, with cues from their environment providing information about classic gender stereotypes. It is vital to teach them about sexism from an early age to recognize gender bias and to understand the string of historical actions that have led to gender discrimination. Parents must define sexism in their children’s language and provide examples of gender bias. Additionally, children must be taught to speak up when they identify instances of sexism and encourage active support of women’s equality.

Why this matters. I’m wondering what are some of the early signs of gender stereotyping in children, and how can these biases be addressed.

Why progress is so easy to underestimate

Morgan Housel puts forward the idea that small ideas can compound into big ones and drive the world which is difficult to imagine due to unseen incremental growth. Progress is made through the mixing, joining, and merging of ideas. It is easy to underestimate technological progress.

Why this matters. In my talk this week about AI, there were a small number of individuals that were very apprehensive, upset, and to some extent resigned to a future that includes people blowing up the planet thanks to AI tools. As indicated previously in this newsletter, I’m trying to remain positive overall as I look at all forms of progress.

Learn How to Cultivate Mental Agility and Thrive in Uncertainty With These 5 Tips

Purposefully step outside your comfort zone. To step outside your comfort zone:

  1. Challenge yourself to solve hard problems.
  2. Learn something new. It doesn’t even have to be work-related.
  3. Set yourself a difficult goal and work on it consistently.

Practice Finding Multiple Answers. To get into the habit of finding multiple answers to a problem:

  1. Challenge yourself to always think of more than one solution to a problem.
  2. Encourage, invite, and show curiosity to hear others’ points of view.
  3. Don’t reject an approach just because it seems counterintuitive or different from your approach.
  4. Use an inversion mental model to think the opposite of what you seek. It will help you uncover issues that you didn’t consider before.
  5. Shift from scarcity to abundance mindset. An abundance mindset opens your mind to new opportunities by viewing the world with infinite possibilities and unlimited options. When you’re not operating within the confines and constraints of your own limitations, you no longer see the world as a limited pie but view it as an endless ocean where there’s enough for everyone.

Develop Creative Thinking Skills. To build creative thinking skills, wake up your curious mind and put it to use:

  1. Challenge and question assumptions.
  2. Expand your circle of competence by gaining knowledge from outside your current scope of work. It will enable you to combine various types of information in your head in new and novel ways. For example: meet with other functions within your organization to understand how they operate, what their challenges are, and how they make decisions.
  3. Create mental space for new ideas to kick in. Incorporate thinking time into your calendar.

Spend Mental Energy Consciously. To spend mental energy productively:

  1. Start with taking responsibility.
  2. Identify what’s within your control—even in the most difficult circumstance, there’s always something you can do.
  3. Take small steps in its direction.
  4. Learn from your actions, change, adapt, and repeat.

Build a Growth Mindset. To build a growth mindset:

  1. Shift to empowering language that encourages you to act.
  2. Set learning goals as opposed to performance goals. Performance goals focus on self-validation: performing well to prove that you’re good at what you do. Show that you’re smart, talented, and capable or outperform other people. Learning goals focus on self-improvement: progress, growth, and gaining mastery. Becoming the best, most capable person you can be rather than proving that you already are.
  3. Capitalize on your failures. Treat them as a means to get better instead of considering them as a limitation of your abilities.
  4. Choose Goldilocks tasks—activities that are neither too easy nor too difficult, just a little over your current abilities. They provide a perfect opportunity to step outside your comfort zone without causing anxiety.

It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.

Steve Magness

Cover Photo CC BY using Playground AI

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