Tag: climate change



Hello all! I will not send out a newsletter next week as I’ll take some time with family as the school year ends for my children.

This week I posted the following:

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Feel free to reach out and say hey at hello@digitallyliterate.net.


A Better Way To Picture Atoms

Do we picture atoms the completely wrong way?

This video is about using Bohmian trajectories to visualize the wavefunctions of hydrogen orbitals, rendered in 3D using custom python code in Blender.

Super cool stuff.


The Unseen Teen: The Challenges of Building Healthy Tech for Young People

In a Data & Society report, Amanda Lenhart and Kellie Owens interview tech industry professionals to understand how adolescent well-being is prioritized (or not) in the design and development of popular social media and gaming platforms.

Lenhart and Owens find numerous challenges to designing for adolescent digital well-being

The Weaponization of Care

Autumn Caines on how surveillance and the gender norms around care are used to reinforce each other.

Protection, direction, influence, and even management can easily be perceived as closely aligned to concerns of care, if not inseparable from them. Be it for our children, partners, or property, surveillance promises that we can gain peace of mind or become more conscientious — that we can think of ourselves as better caregivers.

Nature-based solutions can help cool the planet — if we act now

Analysis suggests that to limit global temperature rise, we must slash emissions and invest now to protect, manage and restore ecosystems and land for the future.

The analysis shows that nature-based solutions can have a powerful role in reducing temperatures in the long term. Land-use changes continue to act long past the point at which net-zero emissions are achieved and global temperatures peak and will have an important role in planetary cooling in the second half of this century. Before then, nature-based solutions can provide real but limited mitigation benefits. Crucially, the more ambitious the climate target, the shorter the time frame for such solutions to have an effect on peak warming.

Put simply, nature-based solutions must be designed for longevity. This means paying closer attention to their long-term carbon-sink potential, as well as their impacts on biodiversity, equity and sustainable development goals.

So You’re Vaccinated! How Can You Let People Know?

So you have taken the time to get yourself the coronavirus vaccine. Thank you!

Current CDC recommendations are indicating mask mandates are no longer needed…as long as people are vaccinated.

If you are vaccinated…what responsibility do you have to prove this to others?

QAnon Crowd Convinced UFOs Are a Diversion From Voter Fraud

It’s never been a better time to believe in UFOs…unless you’re a follower of Qanon.

The far-right conspiracy theory movement known as QAnon emerged on the internet in late 2017 and gained traction throughout former President Donald Trump’s time in office. QAnon’s core theory revolves around Satan-worshipping pedophiles plotting against Trump and a coming “storm” that would clear out those evil forces, but the movement has also been described as a “big tent conspiracy theory” that involves a constantly evolving web of schemes about politicians, celebrities, bankers, and the media, as well as echoes of older movements within Christianity, such as Gnosticism.

Recent research suggests religion, education, race, and media consumption are strong predictors of belief in this conspiracy theory acceptance among Americans.


This Centuries-Old Trick Will Unlock Your Productivity

Having trouble getting things done?

Self-mesmerism might be a way to quiet your mind, and get some deep work done.

Music has long been associated with trance states. The concepts of automatic response and conditioned reflex have been the basis for a model of physiological psychology in which the self has been depicted as vulnerable to external stimuli such as music.



Simplify, slow down, be kind. And don’t forget to have art in your life – music, paintings, theater, dance, and sunsets.

Eric Carle

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Men…it’s okay to moisturize and use eye cream. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good and take care of yourself.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk. 🙂

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

On What We’ve Lost


Welcome back, friends and family.

In 2020 I was selected as one of the winners of the Divergent Award from the Initiative for 21st Century Literacies Research. Because we could not meet together for an awards ceremony and series of keynotes, the honorees submitted a video. Here are my responses.

This video was edited together into a literacy doczoomentary reflecting on the past twenty years of 21st-century literacies and where we go from here. Enjoy.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Feel free to reach out and say hey at hello@digitallyliterate.net.


Explaining the Pandemic to my Past Self – 1 Year Later

It’s been exactly one whole year of forest fires, murder hornets, pandemics, isolations, protests, quarantines, elections, vaccines, and riots and yet here we find ourselves, back at the beginning…

This series of videos from Julie Nolke is funny…and terrifying at the same time.

Enjoy Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.


Guns don’t kill people…good guys and the legitimization of gun violence

It’s Time To Retire The ‘Guns Don’t Kill People — People Kill People’ Argument. Actually, guns DO Kill People.

The research linked above utilizes an online concealed carry forum to critically analyze how firearm proliferation is rationalized in the U.S.

The analysis focuses on three specific examples of violence—the Parkland, Florida, and Philando Castile shootings, and stories of children who find guns and shoot themselves and/or others to critically examine the discourse used to rationalize the proliferation of guns as a response to gun violence in the U.S.

The “guns don’t kill people” argument is flawed because it sidesteps the debate. The issue is not whether guns can spontaneously kill people on their own. The issue involves how incredibly easy a modern weapon makes killing.

Police Violence And Reform: The Inequality In Restorative Justice Opportunities

From George Floyd to Adam Toledo to Daunte Wright to countless other killings, the world is asking questions about racial injustice and excessive use of force by police. A patchwork approach to police reform has left the nation at a critical crossroad with no clear path forward.

One possible path might be available in restorative justice. In educational contexts, this is based on three pillars:

  • Empathy for all and by all
  • A mumbled “sorry” is not enough
  • Everyone is involved in the healing

NPR’s Michel Martin speaks with attorney sujatha baliga about whether restorative justice principles are useful after a shooting incident or killing involving a police officer.

How to Help Your Adolescent Think About the Last Year

For many of us in education, we’re turning the page to the summer…and the fall. As the number of vaccinated adults rises, we begin to imagine a post-COVID world.

In previous posts and interviews, I’ve discussed the need to learn lessons from this global pandemic.

Online schools are here to stay, even after the pandemic. Some families have come to prefer stand-alone virtual schools and districts are rushing to accommodate them — though questions about remote learning persist.

Judith Warner suggests that we should not refer to this as a “lost year.” Also, screen time with friends? It’s good for mental health.

Pew Report on Social Media Use in 2021

A new report from the Pew Research Center suggests that despite a string of controversies and the public’s relatively negative sentiments about aspects of social media, roughly seven-in-ten Americans say they use any kind of social media site. This is a share that has remained relatively stable over the past five years.

A majority of Americans say they use YouTube and Facebook, while the use of Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok is especially common among adults under 30.

Google Earth is now a 3D time machine

Google has pushed out what it says is Google Earth’s “biggest update since 2017” with a new 3D time-lapse feature.

Entering the new “Timelapse” mode of Google Earth will let you fly around the virtual globe with a time slider, showing you satellite imagery from the past 37 years.

Using the 3D Google Earth globe, you can watch cities being built, forests being cut down, and glaciers receding.


What to say when someone is gaslighting you

The term “gaslighting”— as in, the psychological manipulation, not the 19th-century profession—has been thrown around a lot over the past decade or so.

Here’s how to deal with gaslighting and stand firm in your truth:

  • Know how to recognize when gaslighting is happening
  • Stand firm in your truth
  • Write things down
  • Keep the conversation simple
  • Be willing to leave the conversation
  • Don’t worry about trying to outsmart the gaslighter
  • Increase your support system and share your truth



Treat my first like my last, and my last like my first.


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If spiders and spiderwebs fascinate you, then you may be interested to know researchers have turned spiderwebs into music. It’s a virtual look into the world of spiders and the vibrations they sense.

Look/listen here. Perhaps VR (virtual reality) is more your speed.

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

When The Dust Settles

When The Dust Settles
Digitally Lit #267 – 11/7/2020

Welcome back to Digitally Literate. Thanks for showing up this week. You are appreciated.

This week I worked on the following:

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Feel free to reach out and say hey at hello@digitallyliterate.net.


The Most Searched: A Celebration of Black History Makers

See the full methodology behind the film and explore more here.


What if Facebook Is the Real ‘Silent Majority’?

Since the 2016 election, Kevin Roose, tech columnist for the NY Times, has been using CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned data tool that offers a bird’s-eye view of what’s popular on the social network. You can check out @FacebooksTop10, a Twitter account Roose created that shows the top 10 most-interacted-with link posts by U.S. Facebook pages every day.

Most days, the leader board looks roughly the same: conservative post after conservative post, with the occasional liberal interloper.
Conservative political influencers have spent years building a well-oiled media machine that swarms around every major news story, creating a torrent of viral commentary that reliably drowns out both the mainstream media and the liberal opposition.

The result is a kind of parallel media universe that left-of-center Facebook users may never encounter, but that has been stunningly effective in shaping its own version of reality.

Facebook Has A Metric For “Violence And Incitement Trends.” It’s Rising.

The metric, which assesses the potential for danger based on keywords, rose to 580 from 400 this week — a 45% increase.

Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation researcher and fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said she wasn’t aware Facebook had a metric for “violence and incitement” trends and was heartened that they were tracking it. Still, she said, suppression of individual hashtags “is not going to do the trick.”

“We’re talking about the broader structure of Facebook that incentivizes these communities to organize and foster offline violence,” Jankowicz said. “I’m not sure they have a handle on it at all. It’s a structure that they’re relying on to keep people engaged and make money these days.”

Schrödinger’s Ballot Box

Great post from Laura Jimenez.

So, what are you going to do about that when the dust settles?
How are you going to work to learn and unlearn and teach your family, your students, or your colleagues to see and read in new ways?

Leaders may change. The problems remain. Do the work.

A New Hippocratic Oath Asks Doctors To Fight Racial Injustice And Misinformation

In addition to reciting the traditional Hippocratic Oath during the White Coat Ceremony on Aug. 16, the members of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Class of 2024 started a new tradition by writing their own class oath to acknowledge their ever-evolving responsibilities as physicians.

What responsibility do leaders have as they post and interact in society?

I’m wondering if a corrolary for this type of oath exists for educators and researchers…

Greta Thunberg Hears Your Excuses. She Is Not Impressed.

An interview with Greta Thunberg on the release of the “I Am Greta” documentary on Hulu.

Her compelling clarity about the scale of the crisis and moral indignation at the inadequate political response have been hugely influential in shifting public opinion.

We still need to communicate the positive things, but above that we need to communicate reality. In order to be able to change things we need to understand where we are at. We can’t spread false hope. That’s practically not a very wise thing to do. Also, it’s morally wrong that people are building on false hope.


Inclusive Design Un-Guide

I’m planning on following (writing along with) this project. I hope you’ll join me.

Each month, a pair of provocateurs will post a new provocation and invite you to reflect, react, and respond. You’ll find the provocations on the home page of this site. You can participate by reflecting on the provocation and making something in response. You may choose to share your response with other participants (if sharing on social media, we encourage using the hashtag #InclusiveDesignUnGuide, or you may prefer not to share. Either way is fine. For more info, check out the FAQ page.



Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

Barack Obama

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If you’re in the US and Canada, I recommend and use Dear Sunday candles. You can follow the company on Facebook and Instagram.

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

Beyond Fear, Destiny Awaits

Beyond Fear, Destiny Awaits
Digitally Lit #259 – 9/12/2020

Welcome back to Digitally Literate and issue #259.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Feel free to reach out and let me know what you think of this work at hello@digitallyliterate.net. Thank you to all of my friends that reached out via email and the socials to express thanks for coming back…and looking forward to see what changes might be afoot. You are appreciated. ❤️

This week I worked on the following:

  • Going high tech without losing high touch – As we move to digital spaces, we cannot lose what it is that makes us human.
  • My DIY Peloton – Quarantining for months has added on some pounds and tons of stress. Years of playing rugby makes my knees dead when I want to go for long runs. Here is how we’re trying to stay fit as a family.
  • Humans Have Bodies – This open letter to my children has been a long time in the making.


San Francisco In Fire Sky

I need you to care that our planet is on fire.

Blazes like the ones currently overpowering the West Coast have become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change. Fire seasons have grown longer, and larger areas of land are going up in flames.


Hate Social Media? You’ll Love This Documentary

The Social Dilemma — a new Netflix documentary out this weekend — makes the case that social media is humanity’s greatest existential threat.

Social media itself is not the existential threat. Rather, it’s the way that social media surfaces and amplifies the worst of humanity.

Trump orders crackdown on federal antiracism training, calling it ‘anti-American’

I’m hesitant to share this news as it seems like another example of the President and his administration shouting about something that will never materialize. I do think it is troubling as it creates oxygen for those groups that agree with these narratives.

Trump orders crackdown on federal antiracism training, calling it ‘anti-American.’

This pushes back on any training materials “that teaches, trains or suggests the following: (1) virtually all White people contribute to racism or benefit from racism (2) critical race theory (3) white privilege (4) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country (5) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil (6) Anti-American propaganda.”

The Department of Education indicated that they plan to scrutinize a wide range of employee activities – including internal book clubs – in search of “Anti-American propaganda” and discussions about “white privilege” as it carries out the White House’s demand that federal agencies halt certain types of race-related training.

How Conspiracy Theories Are Shaping the 2020 Election—and Shaking the Foundation of American Democracy

It’s hard to know exactly why people believe what they believe.

When asked where they found their information, almost all these voters were cryptic: “Go online,” one woman said. “Dig deep,” added another. They seemed to share a collective disdain for the mainstream media–a skepticism that has only gotten stronger and deeper since 2016. The truth wasn’t reported, they said, and what was reported wasn’t true.

How forcing colleges to go online could change higher education for the better

Matthew Yglesias trying to identify a possible silver lining to the fact that the global pandemic has pushed our learning environments to virtual spaces.

This desire to “reinvent higher education” is a common narrative that is trotted out every couple of years. I prefer this piece from 2010. I remember being excited about iTunes U when I started up my first program in higher ed.

I do wonder about the lessons we should learn about educational technologies as we head through these times. More to come.

If you’d like to chart out that future, check out the manifesto for teaching online.

How Are You Combating Your Kid’s Zoom Fatigue?

Sadly, Zoom is now critical infrastructure. As part of this, we’re seeing youth tuning in to courses remotely using a variety of tools.

How are you ensuring that your students and children are not endlessly staring at screens all day?


Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life

This episode of The Art of Manliness podcast focuses on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

…if people don’t know what their values are, they take their goals, the concrete things they can achieve, to be their values.

Thanks to Doug Belshaw for the tip.



In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.


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Beyond fear, destiny awaits.

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Digitally Literate #215


Less Is More
Digitally Lit #215 – 9/21/2019

Hi all, my name is Ian O’Byrne and welcome to issue #215 of Digitally Literate.

Thank you for stopping by. Please subscribe if you would like this to show up in your email inbox.

Feel free to send along links, notes, and news you think I should include in this work. Special thanks to Gretchen Scronce, the Virtual Services Coordinator at the College of Charleston. I always like chats about critical evaluation of online info. 🙂

This week I posted the following:


Back-To-School Essentials (1:06)

Please note that this PSA contains graphic content related to school shootings that may be upsetting to some viewers. If you feel that this subject matter may be too difficult for you, you may choose not to watch this video.

This video was posted earlier this week, and it instantly garnered a lot of discussion & debate. Much of the initial response focused on “I would never show this to my kids” or “I would be mad if a teacher showed this to my kids.”

To this, I suggest that this video is not for children. This is for adults. If this makes people upset, or fear for the lives of innocents…good. Perhaps we need to address gun violence in society.


Global Climate Strike

This week, millions of people around the world started marching to kick off the Global Climate Strike (9/20/2019 – 9/27/2019). This began with the actions of youth, most notably Greta Thunberg, in an attempt to stave off a climate catastrophe.

You can get involved digitally by sharing notifications on your digital spaces or social media networks.

Why degrowth is the only responsible way forward

As we consider the impact of climate change, we need to understand that environmental issues are all interrelated. You should do your part, but understand the chief concern is not straws, plastic bags at the supermarket, meatless burgers, or cow farts. Much of the root cause of this crisis is rampant capitalism. Since 1988, 100 corporations have been responsible for 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Technological shifts always come at an environmental cost. Every sector of our economy is still based on some form of extraction, pollution, and waste. And all of them depend on carbon. Renewable energy, in particular, requires a great amount of rare minerals and land-use. The same goes for nuclear energy, which demands considerable resources in order to mine uranium, construct power plants, and deal with its
waste. Even digital technology has environmental impacts.

To sustain the natural basis of our life, we must slow down. We have to reduce the amount of extraction, pollution, and waste throughout our economy. This implies less production, less consumption, less work, and degrowth.

Thanks to Doug Belshaw for sharing many of these links in his Thought Shrapnel networks.

Young people are going to save us all from office life

In some of my keynotes, I indicate that adults may not entirely understand how to use digital tools and online social spaces. Perhaps there is a need or opportunity to learn from youth as they adjust to these tools and practices.

This piece in the NY Times suggests that Gen Z-ers and millenials may not be lazy and entitled…perhaps they’re the first generation to understand work-life balance!!!

Facing the Great Reckoning Head-On

As more news continues to come out about Jeffrey Epstein and the money ties to higher ed & technology, I’ve been thinking about how we should address these realities.

danah boyd takes these issues head on in this transcript of her speech as she was receiving the 2019 Barlow/Pioneer Award.

“Move fast and break things” is an abomination if your goal is to create a healthy society. Taking shortcuts may be financially profitable in the short-term, but the cost to society is too great to be justified. In a healthy society, we accommodate differently-abled people through accessibility standards, not because it’s financially prudent but because it’s the right thing to do. In a healthy society, we make certain that the vulnerable amongst us are not harassed into silence because that is not the value behind free speech. In a healthy society, we strategically design to increase social cohesion because binaries are machine logic not human logic.

The Great Reckoning is in front of us. How we respond to the calls for justice will shape the future of technology and society. We must hold accountable all who perpetuate, amplify, and enable hate, harm, and cruelty. But accountability without transformation is simply spectacle. We owe it to ourselves and to all of those who have been hurt to focus on the root of the problem. We also owe it to them to actively seek to not build certain technologies because the human cost is too great

‘A good teacher voice strikes fear into grown men’

A strong teacher voice can silence both children and adults – and it’s about emphasis, not volume, says Julia Croyden.

A good teacher voice can cut glass if used with care. It can silence a class of children; it can strike fear into the hearts of grown men. A quiet, carefully placed “Excuse me”, with just the slightest emphasis on the “-se”, is more effective at stopping an argument between adults or children than any amount of reason.


Procrastination may be a good thing

Creative procrastination, rather than idle postponement, can make you more successful.

Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist from UPenn’s Wharton Business School, suggests that procrastination has the opportunity to make you more creative. Watch more in his TED Talk about the habits of original thinkers.

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Things are strongest where they’re broken

Louise Penny

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Digitally Literate is a synthesis of the cool stuff I find as I surf, skim, & scan the Internet each week. I take notes of everything that piques my interest, and then pull together the important stuff here in a weekly digest.

Feel free to say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Climate Change Can Be Stopped by Turning Air Into Gasoline

Climate Change Can Be Stopped by Turning Air Into Gasoline by Robinson Meyer (The Atlantic)

A Harvard professor says his company should be able to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, at industrial scales, by 2021.

A team of scientists from Harvard University and the company Carbon Engineering announced on Thursday that they have found a method to cheaply and directly pull carbon-dioxide pollution out of the atmosphere.


Their research seems almost to smuggle technologies out of the realm of science fiction and into the real. It suggests that people will soon be able to produce gasoline and jet fuel from little more than limestone, hydrogen, and air. It hints at the eventual construction of a vast, industrial-scale network of carbon scrubbers, capable of removing greenhouse gases directly from the atmosphere.

The process seems to make carbon dioxide, and our reliance on petroleum more of a neutral effect. Scientists hope to stop carbon dioxide pollution first…and then we can think about removing it from the atmosphere.

Keith said it was important to still stop emitting carbon-dioxide pollution where feasible. “My view is we should stick to trying to cut emissions first. As a voter, my view is it’s cheaper not to emit a ton of [carbon dioxide] than it is to emit it and recapture it.”