Tag: culture

Watching Robots

Hi all! Welcome back to Digitally Literate. This is issue #301.

This week I published the following:

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.

Don’t Be a Sucker – 1947

In this anti-fascist film produced by the US Military in the wake of WWII, the producers deconstruct the politically motivated social engineering of Germany by the Nazi regime.

Read more here.

The School Culture Wars: ‘You Have Brought Division to Us’

From mask mandates to critical race theory and gender identity, educators are besieged. “You are just trying to keep everything from collapsing,” one official said.

Schools were already facing a crisis of historic proportions. They are reopening just as a highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus is tearing through communities. They need to create a safe environment for teachers and students while helping children who have been through major trauma.

But at this critical moment, many school officials find themselves engulfed in highly partisan battles, which often have distracted from the most urgent issues.

Parents Are Not Okay

Parents aren’t even at a breaking point anymore. We’re broken. And yet we’ll go on because that’s what we do: We sweep up all our pieces and put them back together as best we can. We carry on chipped and leaking and broken because we have no other choice. And we pray that if we can just keep going, our kids will survive too.

A new study reveals what we can learn about how to persuade people by watching robots

A new study reveals what we can learn about how to persuade people by watching robots.
Experiments with swarms of robots have shown that sporadic social interactions can increase the spread of newly discovered information, compared to sharing the information with all members of a group at once.

9 apps to help kids sharpen their coding skills

Coding is a skill that’s now part of just about every discipline — and what’s more, it’s fun for kids to learn, and easy for parents and teachers to add to lessons at home or school.

As kids get ready to go back to school…here’s a great list of apps and platforms to build these skills.

How to talk to vaccine-hesitant people

Not all unvaccinated folks are anti-vaxxers. As Zeynep Tufekci points out, many of these individuals are in the movable middle. Kindness and non-judgmentalism will get you far when talking to them.

  • Check your biases at the door
  • See if the person is open to the conversation
  • Be kind, or at least civil
  • Identify the obstacle
  • Consider the humble text
  • Tailor your argument to the person

The sun is new each day.


Greetings Earthlings! Outkast – Two Dope Boyz (In a Cadillac) (Animated Music Video)

Come BS with me at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Digital Resilience


Welcome back family.

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.


Nia Dennis – 2021 Floor Exercise

UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis clinches the win for the Bruins with a 9.95 on floor exercise against Arizona State on Jan. 23, 2021.

The latest entry in the surprisingly robust YouTube subgenre of viral college gymnastics routines dropped over the weekend.

The latest floor routine to bubble up into the mainstream isn’t even Dennis’s first. The Ohio native’s Homecoming-themed floor exercise from a meet last season.

Please also check out other performances that have broken through. Louisiana State’s Lloimincia Hall in 2014, UCLA’s Sophina DeJesus in 2016, or Katelyn Ohashi two years ago.


What happened with GameStop?


Last week, an epic short squeeze drove GameStop stock up to $40 a share, a roughly 1,500 percent increase from its low point nine months ago.

I have a feeling this is just the beginning of the story. This is also an important narrative in the history of the Internet. Vastly different than GamerGate and the Arab Spring, these stories all hold portends for the future.

I will try and do this story justice for now and will reference this in the future. For now, I’m drawing my analysis from this deep primer by Alexis Goldstein.

A group of young traders has been propelled, and empowered, by technology, to make some money, make a mockery of the markets, and perhaps do it for the lulz.

They’re using tools like Robinhood, a trading app aimed specifically toward market newbies, entices young users with no transaction fees, immediate access to instant deposits, and a fun, user-friendly interface.

They turn to online communities to talk stocks and strategies with one another, on platforms like Discord and Reddit, most notably on the forum r/WallStreetBets. The foul-mouthed, meme-heavy group debates stocks and discusses trades in a way that feels native to many high school and college students.

Though most of the traders are too young to remember many details of the 2008 financial crisis, they witnessed the impact of it on their families. They watch as people struggle to make ends meet while they lose their jobs and homes. They are hyper-aware of income inequality and the disparities in access to wealth in America.

What the Arab Spring Can Teach Us About GameStop

Ten years ago, democracy protesters used social media to organize against an oppressor. But ultimately, the powerful came out ahead.

It is difficult not to get swept up by the belief that a band of activists using social-network tools could topple an oppressive regime.

Rather than bringing democratic institutions to countries, like Egypt, long denied them, the internet often works in reverse, destabilizing democracy around the world and expanding inequality. Yet each time an online group tries to stick it to the Man, we allow ourselves to dream again.

Is there really a ‘science of reading’ that tells us exactly how to teach kids to read?

A post by David Reinking, Victoria Risko, and George Hruby over the war that persists over teaching phonics or whole language. The piece examines this broad issue and discusses whether there really is a “science of reading” that has finally settled how reading should be taught.


This video from Hruby gives a “direct-and-explicit” definition of what the Science of Reading is, and why so many literacy and reading researchers are up in arms about it.

Children Need to Be Back in School Tomorrow

David Brooks with an editorial about the need to get kids back to school.

Review this thread by Aaron Tang. Yes, we want students to be back in school. But, we need to make sure we’re safe, smart, and following the “science.”

This post by Bryan Alexander discusses the mistakes that have been made in higher ed.

A framework for digital resilience: supporting children through an enabling environment

Cliff Manning indicates that a system that relies on users having high resilience is toxic.

Digital resilience is a dynamic personality asset that grows from digital activation i.e. through engaging with appropriate opportunities and challenges online, rather than through avoidance and safety behaviors.


Resilience and recovery are not the responsibility of an individual, they are the result of collective action.


8 Quick Checks for Understanding

Jay McTighe shares some opportunities for formative assessment to guide learners and anticipate instruction.

  • Signal It: hand signal to indicate understanding
  • Choose It: true/false, agree/disagree
  • Picture It: visual or graphical representations
  • Troubleshoot It: identify & correct the flaw
  • Summarize It: synthesize and condense information
  • Apply It: use information in a new context
  • Teach It: share with someone else
  • Analogize It: develop a metaphor to explain



What is your footnote to the world?


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Not appropriate, but this made me and the kids laugh this week. Peppa Pig plays Minecraft.

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

Digitally Literate #195

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The survival of the species
Digitally Lit #195 – 4/27/2019

Hi all, my name is Ian O’Byrne and welcome to Digitally Literate. In this newsletter, I try to synthesize what happened this week so you can be digitally literate as well.

I posted a couple of things this week:


Yacht – Party at the NSA (feat. Marc Maron) (3:29)

This week I noticed that Facebook was bugging me to share a song to my profile that would help people know more about my tastes. I tried adding a bunch of songs about surveillance and data collection, and noticed that it wouldn’t accept them. So, I took a screencapture and shared the songs in the comments.

One of the best songs I found is Party at the NSA by YACHT and Marc Maron. Enjoy. 🙂


It’s Complicated: Mozilla’s 2019 Internet Health Report

The full Internet Health Report from Mozilla was released this week. This is important as it gives us a glimpse of how humanity and the Internet intersect.

The report indicates that more than half of the globe is connected, but we’re having some growing pains. As many of us enjoy the benefits of networked technologies, we have serious concerns about how social media, screentime, and other elements are impacting our children, jobs, and democracies.

As always with the work from Mozilla, there is an attempt to identify ways to steer us to a positive outcome.

When you look at trends like these — and many others across the Report — the upshot is: the internet has the potential both to uplift and connect us. But it also has the potential to harm and tear us apart. This has become clearer to more and more people in the last few years. It has also become clear that we need to step up and do something if we want the digital world to net out as a positive for humanity rather than a negative.

Facebook’s role in Brexit – and the threat to democracy

The reporter who broke the Cambridge Analytica–Facebook scandal has taken down the tech giants for undermining democracy.

In a TED Talk in Vancouver, Carole Cadwalladr called out the “gods of Silicon Valley” for their role in helping authoritarians consolidate their power in different countries.

Cadwalladr wrote a first-person account in the Guardian of her experience giving the talk at TED, which she describes as “the holy temple of tech”, where new developments used to be unveiled.

World health officials take a hard line on screen time for kids. Will busy parents comply?

The World Health Organization released new recommendations that caregivers restrict the amount of time young kids stare at screens. But the guidelines are less about the risks of screen time itself, and more about the advantages of spending time doing pretty much anything else.

The new guidelines add to on one of the most anxiety-producing issues of 21st century family life: How much should parents resort to videos and online games to entertain, educate or simply distract their young children? The answer, according to WHO, is never for children in their first year of life and rarely in their second. Those aged 2 to 4, the international health agency said, should spend no more than an hour a day in front of a screen.

But, the guidelines are more a response to concerns about “sedentary behaviors” and less a focus on screentime.

Facebook hit with three privacy investigations in a single day

I have a feeling that at some point I need to go through all of the issues of my newsletter and put together a post that shares the case for “why you should delete Facebook.”

The first strike is a probe by the Irish data protection authority looking into the breach of “hundreds of millions” of Facebook and Instagram user passwords that were stored in plaintext on its servers. The company will be investigated under the European GDPR data protection law, which could lead to fines of up to four percent of its global annual revenue for the infringing year — already some several billions of dollars.

The second strike is from Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada said it plans to take Facebook to federal court to force the company to correct its “serious contraventions” of Canadian privacy law. The findings came in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which vacuumed up more than 600,000 profiles of Canadian citizens.

The third strike is New York attorney general Letitia James looking into the recent “unauthorized collection” of 1.5 million user email addresses, which Facebook used for profile verification, but inadvertently also scraped their contact lists. “It is time Facebook is held accountable for how it handles consumers’ personal information,” said James in a statement. “Facebook has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of respect for consumers’ information while at the same time profiting from mining that data.”

Limiting your child’s fire time: A guide for concerned paleolithic parents

Good friend George Station shared this link with me this week and it definitely provided some much needed laughs.

You don’t want to be the bad guy, but you also want to make sure that your child engages in other activities, like mammoth hunting and the gathering of rocks and bones with which to make tools. So, how do you set appropriate boundaries for your child on fire usage without jeopardizing the family unit so crucial to the survival of the species?


Five lies our culture tells

David Brooks released a new book this week that explores the cultural roots, and potential rot of our social and political problems. The Second Mountain explores how to live for a cause greater than just ourselves.

This post in the NY Times suggests some of the cultural narratives that are leading to our downfall:

  • Career success is fulfilling.
  • I can make myself happy.
  • Life is an individual journey.
  • You have to find your own truth.
  • Rich and successful people are worth more than poorer and less successful people.
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No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side. Or you don’t.

Stephen King

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This morning I worked with some great teachers and colleagues to prepare for a summer institute focused on using PRADA to think about embedding computational thinking into K-12 education.

Digitally Literate is a summary of all the great stuff from the Internet this week in technology, education, & literacy. Follow along here.

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

George Veletsianos on Twitter about appreciation & academia

George Veletsianos on Twitter (Twitter)

“This. I mentioned to a colleague last week, we shouldn’t wait for our peers to take on new positions, to move to other universities, in order to tell them that we appreciate what they do, that we like them, and their work. More appreciation, more often, pls #AcademicTwitter https://t.co/ooANxPqxwW”


Look for the Good Apples

Look for the Good Apples (michaelhyatt.com)

Developing your own personal good apple armor

Researching the “Good Apples” chapter, Coyle began to notice some of the “little moments of social interaction” that can help make a team Nick-resistant were consistent—“whether the group was a military unity or a movie studio or an inner-city school.”
It’s not as complicated as you might presume. In fact, the following sampling of simple, practical maxims from The Culture Code can get you started:

  • Close proximity, often in circles
  • Profuse amounts of eye contact
  • Humor, laughter
  • Physical touch (handshakes, fist bumps, hugs)
  • Intensive, active listening
  • Lots of short, energetic exchanges (no long speeches)
  • High levels of mixing; everyone talks to everyone