Tag: data

Gift of Chaos Within You


Welcome back. This week I was tenured and promoted…and then bought a house. Oh…and I got the first shot of two of the COVID vaccine. Upgrades!!!

This week I also posted the following:

  • Our Magnum Opus – Share a walk in your world. WalkMyWorld Learning Event 8. Our Magnum Opus. The World Is Yours. What will you do with it?
  • Writing Myself Into Existence – An update to some changes I’ll make in my blogging focus as a result of nearing the end of the #100daystooffload challenge.
  • What Should We Demand of Tech – As we engage online, we leave bits of our personal data strewn across the Internet without a full understanding of what, why, and how this information is being used. If we fully understood what was happening to our data, we would care more and do something about it.
  • Toward an Internet Bill of Rights – Given the recent events surrounding rights, freedoms, and literacy on the Internet, I would like to continue to reach out to interested parties to develop an Internet Bill of Rights.

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 Gift

The Gift is the story of an ordinary couple, when he gives her a small sphere pulled out his chest, she can’t separate herself from her new gift… even after they break up.


Classroom Resources and Tips To Address Anti-Asian Discrimination

After Georgia Attacks, Asian-Americans Demand Serious Action on Bias.

Amid the pandemic, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) people continue to experience racism, violence and harassment. Some ways to recognize and speak up against coronavirus racism, and start conversations with even the youngest learners about recognizing and acting to address injustice.

What Happens When a Slogan Becomes the Curriculum

A curriculum inspired by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is spreading, raising questions about the line between education and indoctrination.

The BLM at School movement, agreeing with the broad slogan implies a particular approach to anti-racist activism. An approach that draws on academic perspectives such as critical race theory and intersectionality; rejects individualism and aspirational color-blindness; and acts in solidarity with projects including decoloniality, anti-capitalism, and queer liberation.

While curricula and teachers will always warrant scrutiny, BLM at School tries to focus on not only the values and beliefs of Black Lives Matter but also the strongest criticisms of the movement’s approach.

The Internet of Landlords Makes Renters of Us All

The Internet of Landlords is based on turning all social interactions and economic transactions into “services” that are mediated by corporate platforms.

The proliferation of platforms fills society with ubiquitous digital intermediaries that spread rentier relations far and wide, at different scales and intensities, while also concentrating control over infrastructure and economic value in a small number of large hands.

Breaking the platform economy’s cycle of extraction and enclosure can redistribute power over data and infrastructure to the public.

Google and the Age of Privacy Theater

Digital privacy is no longer a niche issue, and brands like Google have two choices:

  1. Change their business model and respect our privacy.
  2. Appear to do this while continuing to abuse our privacy.

Google is opting for the latter.

Google’s claim “is a classic example of what you might call privacy theater: While marketed as a step forward for consumer privacy, it does very little to change the underlying dynamics of an industry built on surveillance-based behavioral advertising.”

Disinformation goes to Hollywood: four lessons from journalism

Whitney Phillips and Clare Wardle on how lessons learned from the television and movie business that can help build storylines about storylines about radicalization, conspiracy theories and other harms.

These four lessons told by entertainment producers go beyond “just the facts.” They transport audiences into whole other worlds, which is central to narrative persuasion.

  • The most obvious place to point the camera often narrows the story. When possible, approach stories about white supremacy and radicalization from the side.
  • The more nuance you bring to white supremacist characters, the more risks there are. If you include “bad example” characters make sure that the character is there to reveal more than the self-explanatory claim that “these kinds of people exist.”
  • Light doesn’t reliably disinfect. Even if your intention is to prevent radicalization or belief in a particular conspiracy theory, consider how someone might use your story to recruit, justify or merely sand the edges off extremist ideology.
  • Tragic personal narratives aren’t automatic public services. Consult a range of experts,to understand how you can entertain audiences without educating them.


A concept from physics called negentropy could help your life run smoother

I mentioned earlier that we bought a house. This means that I have a ton of new projects to complete. To make sense of how to address these challenges, I was thinking about entropy.

Entropy is a measure of how much energy is lost in a system. If a system loses too much energy, it will disintegrate into chaos. Negentropy is how you can can help you fight against entropy and chaos in your daily life.

Here’s five steps to reverse energy loss:

  • Find the entropy
  • Prioritize the losses
  • Come up with a plan
  • Try it out and pay attention
  • Go beyond fixing and maintenance



You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.

Friedrich Nietzsche

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Explore the three major methods of machine learning, which allows computers to write their own rules to problem solve and process data. The three methods are: unsupervised learning, supervised learning, and reinforcement learning.

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We Lost Control of Our Faces


Welcome back all.

This week I posted the following:

  • Where I’m From – Learning Event #3 – Consider your own culture & where you’ve been. How are these people, values, practices, & places a part of you?
  • Narrative for Tenure & Promotion – Sharing the Narrative for my Tenure and Promotion materials in an attempt to promote open scholarship.
  • Leadership Roles, Skills, and You – I have been spending some time researching leadership to better understand the qualities and interactions that go into creating a worthwhile leader.
  • Remembering in Digital Contexts – The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

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.


Love Your Servitude – Aldous Huxley & George Orwell (17:34)

Aldous Huxley foresaw a Central State that persuaded its people to “love their servitude” via propaganda, drugs, entertainment and information-overload. In his view, the energy required to force compliance exceeded the “cost” of persuasion, and thus the Powers That Be would opt for the power of suggestion.

As prescient as he was, Huxley could not have foreseen the power of electronic media hypnosis as a conditioning mechanism for passivity and self-absorption. We are only beginning to understand the immense conditioning powers of 24/7 social and news media.


They Stormed the Capitol. Their Apps Tracked Them.

Times Researchers Charlie Warzel and Stuart A. Thompson were able to identify individuals from a trove of leaked smartphone location data.

Key to bringing the mob to justice has been the event’s digital detritus: location data, geotagged photos, facial recognition, surveillance cameras and crowdsourcing.

If you think that even your political adversaries deserve data protection rights then you understand why it’s a fundamental civil rights issue. – @profcarroll

This is the second time these reporters have received this kind of information. Both times, they have demonstrated that it is far from anonymous, despite carrier claims.

Collection and use of this data REALLY needs to be better regulated. – @Iwillleavenow

This is how we lost control of our faces

Deborah Raji, a fellow at nonprofit Mozilla, and Genevieve Fried, who advises members of the US Congress on algorithmic accountability, examined over 130 facial-recognition data sets compiled over 43 years. They found that researchers, driven by the exploding data requirements of deep learning, gradually abandoned asking for people’s consent. This has led more and more of people’s personal photos to be incorporated into systems of surveillance without their knowledge.

Read the report, About Face: A Survey of Facial Recognition Evaluation here.

Three American Mothers On The Brink

Eleven months, multiple breakdowns, one harrowing realization: They’ve got to get back up and do it all again tomorrow.


Banning White Supremacy Isn’t Censorship, It’s Accountability

In an earlier issue of DL, I shared some thinking about freedom of speech and digital spaces by malkia devich-cyril. In that issue, I indicated that I appreciated the balanced view of freedom of speech.

devich-cyril expands on this thinking in this post in Wired.

Claiming that deplatforming racists violates First Amendment rights shows a distorted understanding of how speech, race, and power work online.

To expand on this point, Margaret Sullivan indicates that this is not cancel culture, this is accountability.

Mathematics in Context: The Pedagogy of Liberation

Teaching Tolerance changes its name to Learning for Justice to reflect evolving work in the struggle for radical change in education and community.

Social justice education isn’t limited to humanities courses. In this post two math educators explain how their commitment to equity informs the way they teach.


Get started with Joplin, a note-taking app

I’m in the process of switching up my toolkit.

Part of this involves finally shutting down my Evernote account and moving to something open source.

I’ve been testing out Joplin…and loving it. In fact, I’ve been using it to write this newsletter over the last couple of months.

I’ll discuss more in upcoming posts.



It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free people that want to remain servile, as it is to enslave people that want to remain free.

Niccolo Machiavelli

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Digitally Literate #230

How You Do Everything
Digitally Lit #230 – 1/25/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #230 of Digitally Literate.

This week I spent time behind the scenes working on a couple projects. Some of this includes starting to blog again for our Screentime Research Group. If you would like to get involved in that work…please send me a note.

I also posted this piece about talking to youth about privacy, security, & digital spaces. I was recently interviewed and asked to respond to the following prompt: Can you give a concrete example of a situation you could create to teach kids about digital security/algorithms? This is my response.

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.


Why are we so lonely? (21:08)

We often make assumptions about the things that make us lonely. But research shows that the amount of time you spend with other people, and the quality of our social skills don’t really make a difference. So why is it that nearly half of the U.S. population reports feeling lonely regularly?

Glad You Asked hosts Alex Clark and Christophe Haubursin set off to discover what causes loneliness, how it affects our health, and what to do to address it.


Cross-platform disinformation campaigns: lessons learned and next steps

Tom Wilson and Kate Starbird with a mixed-method, interpretative analysis of an online, cross-platform disinformation campaign targeting the White Helmets.

The research investigates how disinformation campaigns work across online platforms to achieve their strategic goals. Wilson and Starbird also examines how governments and other political entities support disinformation campaigns.

Findings suggest that a comprehensive understanding of disinformation requires accounting for the spread of content across platforms and that social media platforms should increase collaboration to detect and characterize disinformation campaigns.

This publication also alerted me to the Misinformation Review Journal from the Harvard Kennedy School. Definitely a great resource to add to your feed reader.

Research Review of Adolescent mental health in the digital age

Candice L. Odgers and Michaeline R. Jensen with a review of data from three sources: (a) narrative reviews and meta‐analyses conducted between 2014 and 2019, (b) large‐scale preregistered cohort studies and © intensive longitudinal and ecological momentary assessment studies.

Their goal is to summarize what is known about linkages between digital technology usage and adolescent mental health, with a specific focus on depression and anxiety.

The review highlights that most research to date has been correlational, focused on adults versus adolescents, and has generated a mix of often conflicting small positive, negative and null associations. The most recent and rigorous large‐scale preregistered studies report small associations between the amount of daily digital technology usage and adolescents’ well‐being that do not offer a way of distinguishing cause from effect and, as estimated, are unlikely to be of clinical or practical significance.

Britain Plans Vast Privacy Protections for Children

This week, Britain unveiled sweeping new online protections for children, issuing expansive rules despite widespread objections from a number of tech companies and trade groups.

The new rules, called the Age-Appropriate Design Code, are intended to give minors in Britain special rights and protections online — much like in the real world where children generally have the right to attend school and are prohibited from going to bars.

The new rules will soon be submitted to Parliament, which called for online standards for children as part of a 2018 data protection law and is unlikely to change them. The code should go into effect eight to 10 weeks after it is sent to the lawmakers.

ILA’s 2020 What’s Hot in Literacy

The most recent What’s Hot in Literacy report from the International Literacy Association was released this week.

This year’s report listed the following as the “most important” topics to follow:

  • Determining effective instructional strategies for struggling readers
  • Building early literacy skills through a balanced approach that combines both foundational and language comprehension instruction
  • Increasing equity and opportunity for all learners
  • Providing access to high-quality, diverse books and content
  • Increasing professional learning and development opportunities for practicing educators

This is the first year that digital literacy did not show up in the top spots in any category. It did show up highly in “requested professional development” as the majority of respondents indicated they wanted support in using digital resources to support literacy instruction.

We Sell Your Data

We Sell Your Data, and the accompanying Twitter account is the project of Sarah Dapul-Weberman.

The company is a satire of an innovative new company that aims to make selling your personal data as simple as possible.

Our company doesn’t attempt to provide you a service in exchange for your data. Instead, you voluntarily give us your data, and you receive nothing in return.


How you do anything is how you do everything

Doug Belshaw with a great piece on the actions and dispositions behind being a great leader.

Belshaw problematizes our historical determinants of what makes a good leader, and contextualizes this in future contexts as individuals seek to make a dent in the universe.


Instead of falling for people who are confident, narcissistic and charismatic, we should promote people because of competence, humility and integrity.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

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Digitally Literate is a weekly review of the news, notes, tips, and tricks from the week that resonated with me. I leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs as I read online. Some of this I share on my social networks…much more I do not. At the end of the week, I review my notes and write up this newsletter.

If you stick around to the end of the newsletter…check this link out. Be warned…eye candy incoming.

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

Digitally Literate #218


Imperialistic Tech
Digitally Lit #218 – 10/19/2019

Hi all, welcome to issue #218 of Digitally Literate. My name is Ian O’Byrne.

At the last second I took a week off without alerting everyone. My family went off to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my in-laws. With travel and traffic, most of the time I had budgeted to write was quickly gobbled up.

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

This week I posted another episode of the Technopanic Podcast which I co-host with Kristen Turner. Subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, PocketCasts, Stitcher…or the podcast catcher of your choice. You can also review all episodes here.


Some Vermont schools are already monitoring students’ online activity (1:57)

A state task force recommended that Vermont invest in social media monitoring software, in the hopes of flagging warning signs by would-be school shooters. But whether or not officials take up the strategy on a statewide scale, plenty of districts are already using these technologies.


Mark Zuckerberg Stands for Voice and Free Expression

Mark Zuckerberg spoke at Georgetown University about the importance of protecting free expression. I’ve shared the link above with the hope that you’ll use Hypothesis to openly annotate and comment on the full text from Zuckerberg. You can use my guide to get around your use of Hypothesis to engage and connect in the discussion.

Zuckerberg has been on a “transparency tour” since the 2016 election in the U.S. Some believed that this was his attempt to run for public office. Increasingly we’re seeing that this is instead an attempt to stem the tide of bad press, questionable decisions, and obfuscation surrounding the social network.

The response to the address was generally negative, and indicated that Zuckerberg generally doesn’t understand free speech in the 21st century. This thread from David Kaye is also an excellent deep dive into the address.

There are deeper questions about this address, and the connections to Facebook’s business practices. This is important because , as we’ve discussed in great detail in this newsletter, Zuckerberg is the key factor behind all of the actions by Facebook. His reach, and the reach of the social network make him one of the most powerful individuals on the planet. His framing (or lackthereof) of these freedoms is terribly important as they slowly begin to seep into how we view individual and collective rights.

How a tweet created a costly rift between the NBA and China

In a since-deleted tweet, Daryl Morey, General Manager of the Houston Rockets expressed support for the protestors in Hong Kong.

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This tweet inserted the National Basketball Association (NBA) into the heated debate at the center of the Hong Kong protests. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta quickly distanced the organization from Morey’s comments, and Morey later walked back his statement. The NBA issued an initial statement that was roundly criticized by U.S. politicians on both sides of the aisle for choosing financial interests over human rights.

This raises questions about whether or not high-profile personalities (or average citizens) should be able to speak out on social issues.

Blizzard, Hearthstone & the Hong Kong protests: What you need to know

As the protests continue in Hong Kong, other US companies are finding themselves caught up in the controversy.

Blizzard, the developer of Diablo and World of Warcraft among other notable games, has faced a growing backlash since it removed pro player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai from a Hearthstone tournament and future events. His ban came two days after he showed support for the Hong Kong protests in a postgame interview on Oct. 6. Blizzard seems to be doubling down on this stance by automatically banning anyone that posts anything pro-Hong Kong in their chat feeds.

A number of groups and organizations have come out against these bans as they criticize the company’s decision to censor calls for freedoms in order to make money.

Apple removes app that helps Hong Kong protestors track the police

Apple removed an app from its App Store for HKmap.live after facing intense criticism after authorities in Hong Kong said protesters were using it to attack the police in the semiautonomous city.

Once again, this story sits at the crux of the complicated mechanics that exist as multinational businesses seek to negotiate and create a middle ground between different cultures

China and the Hypocrisy of American Speech Imperialism

Andrew Keane Woods pulls all of these threads together in this expansive post. Woods discusses the challenges that exist as we live in a globally connected marketplace.

There is no easy answer to the very difficult question of if or how American firms should do business in China. But, unfortunately, resolving this question is made harder because the debate is marred by a general lack of analytical clarity and is instead being driven by uninformed moral outrage, free speech absolutism, and American exceptionalism.

We seem to have this problem where we try to instill our own stances into the culture of other groups.

This discussion is important as we consider these multinational corporations and technology developers that are monetizing our data, and impacting the privacy and security of users globally.


Empowering students to question their data privacy

Autumn Caines and Erin Glass had a great piece in Educause Review this week that sounds the call for not only better security around student data, but also the need to empower youth to critically evaluate data privacy practices and policies.

They suggest asking the following questions as you consider your data usage:

  • What types of personal data do you think are collected through your use of digital tools for educational activities?
  • What value does your personal data have for different contexts and entities? Consider how your data might be valued by your instructor, the institution, yourself, and companies.
  • Who owns your personal data, who can sell it, and who can use it?
  • Do you have concerns about how your personal data can be used? If so, what are they?
  • Are there aspects of your identity or life that you feel would put you in a place of special vulnerability if certain data were known about you or used against you?


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You must have confidence in your competence.

Elijah Cummings

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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.

Digitally Literate #207


The Great Hack
Digitally Lit #207 – 7/27/2019

Hi all, my name is Ian O’Byrne and welcome to issue #207 of Digitally Literate.

In this newsletter I distill the news of the week in technology into an easy-to-read resource. Thank you for reading. Please subscribe if you haven’t already.

This week I worked on a number of things in the background. More info coming soon.

This week’s issue will be a deepdive. Buckle up. 🙂


The Great Hack – Official Trailer (2:27)

In this newsletter, I’ve been actively questioning the role of technology as it disrupts democratic processes. Netflix’s new documentary, The Great Hack will hopefully make you think a bit more deeply about your digital footprint.

The documentary provides a deep dive into the world of Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and copious amounts of money. I also love the fact that the whole film begins as you follow David Carroll as he considers the questions that abound in these areas.

Do yourself a favor. Stop reading this newsletter. Go watch the documentary. Come back after you’ve finished. I have some questions.


Facebook lost control of our data. Now it’s paying a record $5 billion fine.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Wednesday announced that Facebook agreed to pay a $5 billion fine over privacy violations and its failure to inform tens of millions of users about a data leak that happened years ago. The fine is the largest the US regulator has levied against a tech company.

To prevent Facebook from deceiving its users about privacy in the future, the FTC’s new 20-year settlement order overhauls the way the company makes privacy decisions by boosting the transparency of decision making and holding Facebook accountable via overlapping channels of compliance.

This fine is primarily a response to Facebook’s actions as part of the Cambridge Analytica “data breach.” The FTC also announced today separate law enforcement actions against data analytics company Cambridge Analytica. The settlement alleges that the company used false and deceptive tactics to harvest personal information from millions of Facebook users.

This fine will go directly into the U.S. Treasury’s General Fund. The $5 billion is a fraction of Facebook’s overall revenue, representing approximately 9% of the company’s 2018 revenue.

Facebook to pay separate $100 million SEC fine over Cambridge Analytica scandal

The social network has also agreed to pay the US Securities and Exchange Commission $100 million over charges of making “misleading disclosures” over the risk of abusing users’ data.

The full complaint from the SEC holds a number of damning details about Facebook’s actions. Specifically, Facebook ignored warnings about “sketchy” Cambridge Analytica in 2015. You should also skim this Twitter thread from Jason Kint as he unpacks the complaint.

Even though this is only a fraction of the settlement with the FTC, I believe the SEC complaint is much more important. I believe that this was not a “data breach.” Facebook was doing was Facebook does. They collect and archive your data, and then sell it off to others. When this all comes to light, the social network deflects, obfuscates, and dissembles.

Russia Targeted Election Systems in All 50 States, Report Finds

The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Thursday that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016, an effort more far-reaching than previously acknowledged.

The heavily redacted report, titled, “Russian Efforts Against Election Infrastructure” is the first volume the committee has publicly released, after more than 200 witness interviews and the collection and review of nearly 400,000 documents. Subsequent volumes will deal with Russia’s effort to use social media and disinformation to influence voters.

When I talk about online disinformation campaigns, family & friends give me an eye roll with comments like “Uhhh…Russia.” Regardless of political tribes, we need to acknowledge that the US (& other nations) have been under attack using social media & other tools to influence our perspectives.

What’s your screenome? It may be more important than screen time

What’s your screenome? “Screenome” is a play on the word “genome,” which refers to the unique set of genetic material that every living organism contains.

In a paper published in the journal Human-Computer Interaction, social scientists at Stanford define a screenome as “the record of individual experiences represented as a sequence of screens that people view and interact with over time.”

HOW you interact might be more important than HOW LONG.

Does Technology Spell Doom for Close Relationships?

This post by Omri Gillath in the Scientific American discusses the recent trend of the “solomoon.” Solomooning, according to recent news articles, is a new phenomenon in which just-marrieds take a post-wedding trip separately from each other.

The post goes on to share research by Gillath and colleagues as they examine disposability and the ways in which social media impacts intimacy with others.

Gillath crystalizes some of these challenges:

Taken as a whole, they paint a gloomy picture of our relational future. A significant cause of these trends is people’s tendency to immerse themselves in technological advancements without considering the implications. Technology is not going to stop or go away, so unless we start taking these implications seriously, we may wake up one day in the near future with a broken heart and without the relationships that are so vital to our wellbeing.


Cleanse your Facebook account

After watching the documentary and reviewing the stories I shared…are you ready to delete your Facebook account?

Probably not. As we’ve regularly discussed in this newsletter, technology regularly offers us reasons to stop using their products, apps, and services. Yet…we stick around for some reason.

If you’re not going to delete your account…take some time and give it a good cleanse, or refresh.

Download your information from your settings. To download your information:

  1. Click at the top right of any Facebook page and select Settings
  2. Click Download a copy of your Facebook data at the bottom of General Account Settings
  3. Click Start My Archive

After that, test out two of the options shared in the post above (Facebook Timeline Cleaner and F___book Post Manager), to clean out your data.

I’m still deciding whether or not it is time to delete my Facebook account. I have been in the process of scaling back what the social network knows about me. I’ve been downloading and deleting all of my photos from the service. I’ve also refreshed my privacy settings as well. I’ll test out the tools above…and a total purge may soon be in my future.

What about you? 🙂

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I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

Rutger Hauer

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This week I started finally watching the Showtime documentary about the Wu-Tang Clan. The four part docuseries is all about the honesty the members of the super group weave into their rhymes. You can listen to some of the tracks from the series here.

Digitally Literate is a summary of all the great stuff from the Internet this week in technology, education, & literacy. Say hey with a note at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Charting Death

For their final capstone project for Bradley Voytek’s COGS 108 course at UCSD, a group of students examined potential disparities between actual deaths and their corresponding media attention.

The final project is excellent. The subject matter…and the interactive data charts as well.

For anyone curious about any of the steps throughout this project, the original data and code used to do all this analysis is available here on GitHub.

SOURCE: https://owenshen24.github.io/charting-death/

The Messy Reality of Algorithmic Culture

danah boyd argues that we need to develop more sophisticated ways of thinking about technology before jumping to hype and fear.

Data-driven and algorithmic systems increasingly underpin many decision-making systems, shaping where law enforcement are stationed and what news you are shown on social media. The design of these systems is inscribed with organizational and cultural values. Often, these systems depend on the behavior of everyday people, who may not act as expected. Meanwhile, adversarial actors also seek to manipulate the data upon which these systems are built for personal, political, and economic reasons. In this talk, danah will unpack some of the unique cultural challenges presented by “big data” and machine learning, raising critical questions about fairness and accountability.

Video of the talk, with the slide deck off to the side is available here.

Think You’re Discreet Online? Think Again

Zeynep Tufekci talking about the digital residue we leave behind as we use digital tools and spaces.

There is the narrative that “as long as you’re careful online” you’ll be okay. As Tufekci indicates, there is no longer any chance of “opting out” of challenges in these spaces.

Because of technological advances and the sheer amount of data now available about billions of other people, discretion no longer suffices to protect your privacy. Computer algorithms and network analyses can now infer, with a sufficiently high degree of accuracy, a wide range of things about you that you may have never disclosed, including your moods, your political beliefs, your sexual orientation and your health.

More to the point, Tufekci describes this as “computational inference.” This is akin to the data inferencing that we could make about an individual’s views based on what magazines or newspaper someone subscribed to. This pattern finding is on steroids given the amount of data online.

Tufekci indicates that this (computational inferencing) does not always have to be a bad thing…but it is also used for social control. There are also significant challenges when this occurs based on bad data, or incorrect inferencing.

SOURCE: The New York Times

Facebook sucks for privacy, but how good are advertisers at targeting me?

A lot has been recently said about Facebook’s disregard for user’s data privacy. This is as stories are routinely coming out about their business model of collecting user information, and selling this off to advertisers and worse.

To test out the value of this collected information, Preetish Panda gathered his dataset from Facebook, and analyzed using this in the alluvial diagram below.

The analysis notes that about 65% of the companies that bought his information would be receptive to Panda as a customer. The other companies wasted their money.

As mentioned above, around 40 percent of the companies in the list were absolutely new to me and I’m confident there’s no way I’d have shared my details with those advertisers. There’s a bunch of random companies in there — such as a weird company in the agriculture industry — that have no business targeting me or using my data.

The question still remains about how and why Facebook is sharing/selling our data to anyone that will pay for it.

Clearly, Facebook hasn’t been able to enforce its terms, and the companies (or their data partners) also didn’t bother to get consent from the targets. But, the question remains: how did they manage to get my data?

Note from Panda: You can use the ‘R’ code present in my GitHub repository to create this visualization based on your data.

SOURCE: The Next Web

Want to own your data? Start by owning your identity

The map of our identity is often linked to physical and digital artifacts. We not only have birth certificates, and ID cards…we also have digital proof of identity. In digital spaces, we often have multiple identities that we need to create, and attend to.

Since the advent of the internet, the need to create identities has multiplied. Platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Apple or Airbnb provide you with an identifier, a way to register your personal data that is relevant to them, together with a method to prove this data identifies you, generally a password.

Online identities or siloed identities have been designed focusing on the different platforms and their needs. Users are secondary. Multiple systems are created to provide a tool for these companies to administer identifiers and attributes within a specific domain. In the meantime, users end up with multiple “personalities” who don’t even belong to them. Each identity belongs to the system where you created it. And in the meantime, you continue leaving a trail of identity breadcrumbs across the virtual world. A fragmented identity, upon which you have no control or ways to benefit.

What if you didn’t have to create a new identity for each of these accounts and spaces? What if you could create one “proof of identity” and lend this identity to the new account as you connect online?

This idea is called self-sovereign identity (SSI). SSI is based on the concept that we all are the makers of our own identity, online and offline. Because SSI does not rely on a centralized authority, self-sovereign identity systems are decentralized, matching the way identity works in real life.

The post goes on to discuss the ways in which this would work, and examples of the infrastructure that could be used to make it a reality.