Tag: freedom

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.

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

Digitally Literate #253

Confuse, Divide, and Distract
Digitally Lit #253 – 7/4/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #253 of Digitally Literate. Each week in this newsletter, I synthesize the news of the week in education, technology, & literacy. 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.

This week I worked on a couple things behind the scenes. More to come.


‘What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July?’: Descendants Read Frederick Douglass’ Speech

The U.S. celebrates this Independence Day amid nationwide protests and calls for systemic reforms.

In this short film, five young descendants of Frederick Douglass read and respond to excerpts of his famous speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” which asks all of us to consider America’s long history of denying equal rights to Black Americans.


College Is Worth It, but Campus Isn’t

Bringing millions of students back to campus would create enormous risks for society but comparatively little educational benefit, an economist says.

With no indication that the federal government is prepared to step in quickly with a financial rescue plan for higher education, colleges and universities are being forced to choose between bad alternatives.

But a toll will be paid, and it will largely not fall on students. Dining-hall workers, custodians, secretaries, librarians, medical personnel — as well as older faculty members — are far more vulnerable.

Is Academia in denial?

In the Covid-19 Economy, You Can Have a Kid or a Job. You Can’t Have Both

We are not burned out because life is hard this year. We are burned out because we are being rolled over by the wheels of an economy that has bafflingly declared working parents inessential.

The benefits to society of schools being open are greater than the benefits of opening most other institutions. Although we can mitigate transmission within schools to some degree, the best way to ensure that schools can open — and stay open — is to keep community spread of the virus low. We can reopen schools in the fall if we close the bars and gyms now.

As we argue about masks, staying in, or going out to the pub…we’re losing an entire generation of our youth.

Our Ability to Process Information Is Reaching a Critical Limit

We are engaged in a world wide information war, as such disinformation is coming at us from all sides – from friend and foe alike.

This is designed to confuse, divide, and distract.

A growing body of research highlights the strain on our ability to read, understand, process, and take action on the flood of news with which we’re confronted. Some of the biggest events in 2020 have demanded more of our time, more direct action, and have been more emotionally taxing than we’re used to. The result feels like a mental DDoS attack that drags down our mental health, allows misinformation to thrive, and even makes the job of delivering news more difficult.

Zuckerberg once wanted to sanction Trump. Then Facebook wrote rules that accommodated him.

Starting as early as 2015, Facebook executives started crafting exceptions for the then-candidate that transformed the world’s information battlefield for years to come.

This is the biggest test of whether Facebook will ever truly put society and democracy ahead of profit and ideology. As much as they stonewall, we already know the answer.

We’re now seeing Facebook be more responsive when it comes to content on the platform as a result of the advertising boycott. We also see the impact of this ad boycott impacting Reddit as they overhaul their hate speech policies.

Stop criticising parents and start supporting their digital practices

How can society better support families in a digital age?

  • We should encourage parents to evaluate what’s on the screen, how their child is interacting with it, and what they gain from the experience.
  • Schools could embed digital literacy in the curriculum and foster positive connections with children’s digital lives outside the classroom.
  • Librarians, health visitors and youth workers could guide parents in imaginative or educational digital choices.
  • Government could address the risks, and facilitate the production of imaginative and educational content and ensure its availability for everyone.
  • Since the digital is not everything, society could also provide more playgrounds and clubs for kids to get together, and more affordable activities for families outside the home.


How to Make Your Tech Last Longer

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In a pandemic-induced recession, it’s more important than ever to take care of our smartphones and other gadgets.

  • Check your battery
  • Do a deep clean
  • Declutter your data
  • Protect your gear
  • Find a fixer



A race of people is like an individual man; until it uses its own talent, takes pride in its own history, expresses its own culture, affirms its own selfhood, it can never fulfill itself.

Malcolm X

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Digitally Literate is a weekly review of the news, notes, tips, and tricks from the week that resonated with me.

TikTok excels at connecting users based on their identities, and as a result, there’s a corner of the app for almost everyone, from Cop TikTok and Doctor TikTok, to Lesbian TikTok and the teens who gripe about their strict parents. With more than 2 million people locked up in prisons or jails in the United States, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s a Prison TikTok, too.

Also…listen to this playlist if you have complicated feelings about America.

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

Digitally Literate #199

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Nothing less
Digitally Lit #199 – 5/25/2019

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.

This week I worked on several things behind the scenes that will hopefully blossom later. One of the highlights was a meeting with SC Codes and the SC Department of Commerce. I’m investigating opportunities to embed computer science and computational thinking in schools across the state…as well as in pre-service teacher education. More to come soon.

This week I also worked with Kristen Turner to record and refill our episodes of The Technopanic Podcast. Please subscribe if you haven’t already. Share…and rate us on your favorite podcasting app/space.

Finally, Digitally Literate will be off next week as I’m leaving for vacation with the family. We’ll see you back in two weeks on June 8, 2019. 🙂





60-second strategy: 3-read protocol (1:01)

For some reason, I have not noticed that Edutopia has been developing this series of “60-second strategies” on their YouTube channel.

This is a brilliant use of tech as we need more opportunities to succinctly share content while making it easy to share with others.


Finland is winning the war on fake news. Other nations want the blueprint.

An interactive piece from CNN focusing on the role of education, critical media literacy, and the fight against fake news.

Much of this we’ve seen before. Education, specifically critical literacy, and critical media literacy is needed in our schools and society.

Part of the challenge is that this practice often fails when it goes up against our value systems. and the very act of routinely questioning everything you read or learn, is antithetical to the narrative shared by many parents and educators.

In much of my research, I view this as a need to build healthy skepticism in students. This perspective is often challenged by colleagues…and is evidenced in the piece.

For more insight on this, review this Twitter thread from Mike Caulfield.

Cambridge Analytica: A Case Study In Behaviorism Run Amok

Craig Axford making the case that the news about Cambridge Analytica and their data collection on around 50 million users is not a new story at all. In this he conducts a deep dive to identify connections between data collection & algorithms, Cambridge Analytica, behaviorism, propaganda, and human motivation.

Propaganda is not simply closing off rational debate by appeal to emotion: often emotions are rational and track reasons. It rather involves closing off debate by ‘emotions detached from ideas.’ According to these classical characterizations of propaganda, formed in reflecting upon the two great wars of the twentieth century, propaganda closes off debate by bypassing the rational will…Propaganda is manipulation of the rational will to close off debate.

A food pyramid for kids’ media consumption

A great heuristic by Caitlin Harrington in Wired as we think about digital, media consumption and screentime. This is not just for kids. 🙂

Use sparingly. Limit screens before bed, during meals, and running in the background for no reason.

Use occasionally. Turn off “autoplay” on YouTube, turn on apps to limit screentime. Limit/abstain use of violent games or content.

Use moderately. Monitor usage of age-appropriate ebooks, movies/tv, online video, and video games.

Use freely. Free usage of video chats with family, co-viewing of educational content, creative tools (Scratch, Minecraft, coding platforms). Free use of audiobooks, music, podcasts. Encourage healthy, active participation with online affinity groups.

The Web Is a Customer Service Medium

Many of you reading this newsletter are frequent content creators in digital spaces. You spend a lot of your time building, sharing, and responding to others. For that population…I’m wondering what you think about this post from Paul Ford. 🙂

Ford posits that the web is a medium of customer service in which we must first consider the fundamental question of “why wasn’t I consulted?” or WWIC.

WWIC is the thing people talk about when they talk about nicer-sounding things like “the wisdom of crowds” or “cognitive surplus.” It has become the first thing I think about when I think about the web. I’ve spent a lot of time with users, and as part of various web communities. I’ve answered thousands of emails about things I built or said. Now, when I sit down to graffle, I start by asking: “How do we deal with the WWIC problem?” Everything else comes after.

Timekeeping as feminist pedagogy

I’ve been doing a lot of reading & research behind the scenes in critical feminist pedagogy as I try to problematize my perspectives.

This idea from Danica Savonick is brilliant…and I’ll definitely use it in classes next semester. Savonick indicates that this is a follow-up to her earlier post on “Creating Spaces for Conversation: Three Strategies,” which describes what facilitators can do to create an environment in which everyone speaks and is heard.

By timekeeping, I simply mean deliberately structuring how much of a given amount of time is allotted to different tasks, communicating this information to participants, helping participants prepare to work within these time constraints, helping them stay on time in the moment, and encouraging an awareness of time constraints in others.


Former FBI agent explains how to read body language

Most of my work involves the use of a screen, or communicating with other digitally. I’ve always been interested in some of the non-verbal cues as we interact and communicate with others.

In this YouTube video, former FBI agent and body language expert Joe Navarro breaks down the various ways we communicate non-verbally. What does it mean when we fold our arms? Why do we interlace our fingers? Can a poker player actually hide their body language?

As a former middle school teacher, these non-verbal cues are a great help as sometimes other forms of communication are stunted.

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Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.

Susan B. Anthony

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This short sci-fi film was a great hidden gem to the week. It’s part of the DUST channel, as they seek to create “binge watchable” sci-fi each week. Subscribe here…I did. 🙂

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.

Digitally Literate #193

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Freedom to Press
Digitally Lit #193 – 4/13/2019

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:


How to take a picture of a black hole (12:51)

In this video published on April 28, 2017, Katie Bouman talks about how we might be able to use the Event Horizon Telescope to


How Katie Bouman Accidentally Became the Face of the Black Hole Project

First of all, we should all be excited/amazed that scientists were able to globally connect a network of radio telescopes, and use computing power to stitch this content together…and peer into a black hole. That, by itself is amazing.

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Second, most of the world learned about this breakthrough as it was accompanied by the following photo showing Dr. Katie Bouman looking on in wonder as the results came through.

Following the initial wave of euphoria about this news, and the viral photo, a number of trolls on Reddit and Twitter have circulated memes contrasting Bouman’s work with that of Andrew Chael, a white male scientist who is also a member of the Event Horizon Telescope team behind the black hole project. Algorithms on YouTube and search engines soon started pushing these memes to accelerate this trolling narrative.

The truth about the team behind the project, and Bouman’s response is obviously far more nuanced.

I think we can learn a great deal about the trolling that happens online, and how to prepare/protect individuals/groups. I think we also need to recognize that recognizing diversity, and (in this case) women in science is critically important. Anything less is a huge loss of talent, skill, ideas, and perspective.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange evicted and arrested

Early Thursday morning, Ecuador terminated the asylum status of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, and he was arrested by British authorities. Shortly after, the Justice Department released a one count indictment against Assange, alleging that he conspired to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act with whistleblower Chelsea Manning in 2010.

There are layers of story (known & unknown) behind the scenes around WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. For now, I’d like to focus on the possible chilling effects on the freedom of the press, and the free flow of information online. For more on this perspective, please review the responses from the ACLU, EFF, and the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

We’re not going to take it anymore

Kara Swisher in the NY Times on the growing control that tech companies have over our digital lives. It is time for us to take some of our power back in this exchange.

In other words, get over it? I don’t intend to, and I don’t think anyone else should, either. While we may have zero privacy, it doesn’t mean that we have given up our right to control our digital selves. In fact, as tech marches on, that might be the one right that needs to be protected most of all.


Kyle Korver shared his commentary on privilege and institutional racism. Many on Twitter applauded this as a powerful, must-read essay. Still others are tired of the “standing ovation” given when a person of privilege points out the obvious. My favorite response to this Korver piece is this video from Jason Whitlock.

For me, the focus is on the difference between listening and hearing. I’m still continuing my journey.

White people assume niceness is the answer to racial inequality. It’s not.

A powerful piece by Robin DiAngelo on niceness and the reproduction of racial inequality.

We can begin by acknowledging ourselves as racial beings with a particular and limited perspective on race. We can attempt to understand the racial realities of people of color through authentic interaction rather than through the media or through unequal relationships. We can insist that racism be discussed in our workplaces and a professed commitment to racial equity be demonstrated by actual outcomes. We can get involved in organizations working for racial justice. These efforts require that we continually challenge our own socialization and investments in racism and put what we profess to value into the actual practice of our lives. This takes courage, and niceness without strategic and intentional anti-racist action is not courageous.


Google will now let you use your Android phone as a physical security key

You should all be using two-factor authentication on your devices and services. For me, this means using Authy to enable and save these codes on my phone. When I log in to an account, I need to pull out my phone, open Authy, read the six digit code, and type it into the browser.

Google/Android are proposing a new system that will use a Bluetooth to have the phone talk to the computer and eliminate this next step. I’ve been thinking about purchasing a physical security key (more on that soon). This looks like a possible (easier) next step.

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The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

Friedrich Nietzsche
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Digitally Literate is a magazine focused on all the great stuff 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.