Tag: futures

Courage to Continue


Welcome back friends! This was a busy week.

This week I also posted the following:

  • Recognizing the Details – Learning Event #6 – Hold space and bear witness to the daily interactions that make up our lives.
  • Development & Validation of the TILT Survey – Behind the scenes of the development and validation of the Technology, Instruction, Learning in Teaching (TILT) survey.
  • The Future Includes Human Teachers – First principles thinking is the act of boiling a process down to the fundamental parts that you know are true and building up from there.
  • Bots, Disruptors, and Frictionless Interactions – Cognitive technologies, such as machine learning, neural networks, robotic process automation, bots, natural language processing, neural nets, and the broader domain of AI, have the potential to transform education.

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.


How Far Can We Go? Limits of Humanity (7:44)


Is there a border we will never cross? Are there places we will never be able to reach, no matter what? It turns out there are.

Far, far more than you might have thought…


Can Clubhouse Move Fast Without Breaking Things?

Kevin Roose on Clubhouse, the invitation-only social audio app. Clubhouse has been super hot over the last couple of months.

I’m sharing this link because Roose includes the following piece of gold.

Every successful social network has a life cycle that goes something like: Wow, this app sure is addictive! Look at all the funny and exciting ways people are using it! Oh, look, I can get my news and political commentary here, too! This is going to empower dissidents, promote free speech and topple authoritarian regimes! Hmm, why are trolls and racists getting millions of followers? And where did all these conspiracy theories come from? This platform should really hire some moderators and fix its algorithms. Wow, this place is a cesspool, I’m deleting my account.

Foregrounding Technoethics: Toward Critical Perspectives in Technology and Teacher Education

The Teacher Educator Technology Competencies (TETCs) were created to help teacher educators support teacher candidates as they prepare to teach with technology.

Daniel G. Krutka, Marie K. Heath, and K. Bret Staudt Willet offer suggestions for how teacher educators might inquire into technoethical conundrums through ethical, democratic, legal, economic, technological, and pedagogical explorations of technologies.

Lateral reading: College students learn to critically evaluate internet sources in an online course

You might remember the research from the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) from 2016 that suggested that students may have trouble judging the credibility of online information.

Some research suggests that students in face-to-face settings can improve at judging the credibility of online sources. But what about asynchronous remote instruction?

The group is back to describe lateral reading, the act of leaving an unknown website to consult other sources to evaluate the original site.

What is an “algorithm”? It depends whom you ask

In 1971, computer scientist Harold Stone, defined an algorithm as “a set of rules that precisely define a sequence of operations.”

Lawmakers in the US are defining an algorithm as “automated decisionmaking system” and “a computational process, including one derived from machine learning, statistics, or other data processing or artificial intelligence techniques, that makes a decision or facilitates human decision making, that impacts consumers.”

This is important as algorithms are increasingly impacting our lives. Instead of using an overly broad term like algorithm, we should instead focus on impact, not input.

What matters is the potential for harm, regardless of whether we’re discussing an algebraic formula or a deep neural network.

How the iPhone killed the custom ringtone

Before Facebook and Twitter, ringtones were a way to advertise your sense of humor and great taste.

With the rise of 4G networks, coupled with instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, people didn’t have to call someone to have a real-time conversation. The mobile phone was growing up fast, and the custom ringtone turned out to be something of an embarrassing, teenage phase.

Social media now offers far more possibilities for us to curate our public image than snippets of symphonies or tacky jingles ever did. For the computer in our pocket, the bell rarely tolls.

Last week a song came “on the radio” (streamed over my in-car audio from my phone) and it brought me back to a ringtone that I downloaded and edited myself. I tried explaining it to the kids…but… 🙁


Simple Techniques to Improve Visuals in Technology Enhanced Learning

I’ve been trying to more accessible and approachable for almost a decade. This includes the use of my main website and this newsletter.

My next frontier is to be more visually literate. My inspiration in this work is Bryan Mathers and Visual Thinkery.

In this slide deck, Mathers offers some great inspiration on graphic recording of ideas.



Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.

Winston S. Churchill

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Missed out on buying some art this week. Now I’ll look to purchase The Eyemonger, A children’s book about privacy.

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

As Impossible as Possible

As Impossible as Possible
Digitally Lit #241 – 4/11/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #241 of Digitally Literate.

This week’s issue is motivated by a brief discussion with Joaquin A. B. Munoz on a post I shared in the Higher Ed Learning Collective Facebook group. Each morning I try to share a positive greeting online, & a post to push our thinking. Joaquin wisely indicated that these stop-gap measures to address our work are nice…but what we really have is an opportunity to rethink our institutions and structures.

You know what Joaquin…you’re right. This issue is for you. 🙂

I also helped post the following this week:

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.


How This Guy Balances Impossible Rock Structures (7:24)

Michael Grab’s mind-bending rock formations aren’t held together by glue or steel rods. Shockingly, his rock piles are stacked using only the laws of gravity. Michael’s rock formations have taken the internet by storm, and brought an even greater attention to rock balancing.

Watch his YouTube channel to see him make the seemingly impossible, possible.


We Need to Stop Trying to Replicate the Life We Had

As we’ve moved to social distancing around the globe, the decision, for the most part has been to identify online ways to replace offline behaviors. We’re quickly realizing that this is often a poor substitute.

Trying to translate your old social habits to Zoom or FaceTime is like going vegetarian and proceeding to glumly eat a diet of just tofurkey, rather than cooking varied, creative, and flavorful meals with fruits and vegetables. The challenge, then, of adapting to an all-virtual social life may lie in reorienting our interactions around the strengths of the platforms where we can be together.

We can’t try to substitute digital for meatspace and assume that it’ll be a worthy substitute. But, we can think about new practices and habits.

Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting

As the Coronavirus disrupts and traumatizes most aspects of our lives, there is a clear opportunity to see the vulnerabilities that we have as a global village. We see the social and economic challenges that exist in our systems.

We also see areas of the planet where pollution has simply stopped as the skies clear up. Animals are running wild through city streets as the humans are staying at home.

This post by Julio Vincent Gambuto indicates that we have been given a tremendous gift by this look through the looking glass. We are about to receive an amazing amount of propaganda from governments, advertising, and our neighbors as we’re urged to return to normalcy.

From one citizen to another, I beg of you: take a deep breath, ignore the deafening noise, and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud.

Why we need a new WPA

The Works Progress Administration (WPA), created with an initial $4.9 billion appropriation in 1935 during the Depression, is commonly associated with the building of roads and bridges. The WPA also employed writers, researchers, historians, artists, musicians, actors & other cultural figures. This had as profound and lasting impact on the nation as the bridges and roads built by thousands of laborers.

This post from Paula Krebs suggests that as we prepare for a post-pandemic society, we should also develop the philosophical, cultural, and ethnic structures that undergird our societies.

Are we all digital scholars now? How the lockdown will reshape the post-pandemic digital structure of academia.

Much of our response for this global pandemic has been the rapid adoption of digital technologies for all activities that we assumed were necessary, and needed to happen face-to-face.

Mark Carrigan with a post considering what transformation of higher education might look like after this rapid institutional change.

There are productive possibilities to be found in the bleak weirdness of our present situation and digital scholarship provides us with a framework through which we can think about how to realise them on a practical and mundane level.

How the ‘Stockdale Paradox’ Can Help You Embrace Uncertainty

Believing in a better future—while still acknowledging the darkness of our present reality—seems almost impossible right now. Doing so may make all the difference.

The Stockdale Paradox refers to the mindset employed by James Stockdale, a Vietnam veteran who spent seven years as a prisoner of war. Stockdale indicated that even if the situation seems dire, envisioning a way forward—even just an imagined one—can be the key to picking yourself up and moving ahead each day, even in the midst of incredible difficulties.

If we push beyond blind optimism, we can forge ahead into new territory, carrying with us both an understanding of the world as it is right now and an unwavering hope for the future.


Fermented Hot Sauce

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This week I’ve been playing with some lacto-fermentation to make my own hot sauce. This video and this video should get you started.



I guess if you keep making the same mistake long enough, it becomes your style.

John Prine

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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. Feel free to pay attention if you’d like to check my notes. 🙂

This video led to much needed laughs in my house…which was followed by this video…which led to spending the night beatboxing with my kids. 🙂

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

The Two Codes Your Kids Need to Know

This opinion from Thomas Friedman shares insight from The College Board, and a surprising conclusion about keys to success for college and life. Not surprisingly, they indicate that students need the ability to master “two codes” — computer science and the U.S. Constitution.

Their short answer was that if you want to be an empowered citizen in our democracy — able to not only navigate society and its institutions but also to improve and shape them, and not just be shaped by them — you need to know how the code of the U.S. Constitution works. And if you want to be an empowered and adaptive worker or artist or writer or scientist or teacher — and be able to shape the world around you, and not just be shaped by it — you need to know how computers work and how to shape them.

SOURCE: The New York Times

“I Was Devastated”: The Man Who Created the World Wide Web Has Some Regrets

“I Was Devastated”: The Man Who Created the World Wide Web Has Some Regrets (The Hive)

Tim Berners-Lee has seen his creation debased by everything from fake news to mass surveillance. But he’s got a plan to fix it.

An expose on Tim Berners Lee in Vanity Fair.
The piece describes Berners-Lee invention of the World Wide Web and his recent work with Solid to re-decentralize the web.

For now, the Solid technology is still new and not ready for the masses. But the vision, if it works, could radically change the existing power dynamics of the Web. The system aims to give users a platform by which they can control access to the data and content they generate on the Web. This way, users can choose how that data gets used rather than, say, Facebook and Google doing with it as they please. Solid’s code and technology is open to all—anyone with access to the Internet can come into its chat room and start coding.


The forces that Berners-Lee unleashed nearly three decades ago are accelerating, moving in ways no one can fully predict. And now, as half the world joins the Web, we are at a societal inflection point: Are we headed toward an Orwellian future where a handful of corporations monitor and control our lives? Or are we on the verge of creating a better version of society online, one where the free flow of ideas and information helps cure disease, expose corruption, reverse injustices?

All annotations available in the source.

What Will Schools Look Like in the Future?

From the Freethink channel:

Everyone wants America’s education system to do better. Ex-Googler Max Ventilla has a radical idea for how to make it work more like a social network. Ventilla’s AltSchool is building a highly-personalized education experience that gets better and cheaper as more students use it. In a decade, AltSchool may not have just built some new schools but rather a new school system that all will be able to join.

Higher education is ailing. It hasn’t been destroyed – yet.

Higher education is ailing. It hasn’t been destroyed – yet. (Bryan Alexander)

Over the past week a discussion about the future of American higher education has unfolded across the web. Things began with the publication of new enrollment data.  I commented on this, and Josh K…

Excellent presentation of facts, findings, and trends from Bryan Alexander on the recent discussion about the life and death of higher ed.
The takeaway:

Where does that leave us?  Large areas of American higher education are suffering.  Their business model might not work any longer.  Student debt is unprecedented, dangerous, and continuing to grow.  Partly in response, enrollment has dropped, which is placing even more pressure on campuses and their flailing business models.  These and other trends are weakening parts of this sector’s ability to thrive or even survive.  We may have passed peak higher ed.  American academia is sick, if not ruined, and the course of the disease, as well as its possible treatment, are uncertain.

Here’s How Higher Education Dies

Here’s How Higher Education Dies (The Atlantic)

A futurist says the industry may have nowhere to go but down. What does the slide look like?

Bryan Alexander started grappling with the idea of “peak higher education” in 2013—inspired by the notion of “peak car,” “peak oil,” and other so-called “peaks.” At the time, there were signs that the industry was already struggling. The number of students enrolled in higher education had dropped by a little over 450,000 after years of booming growth, the proportion of part-time faculty—more commonly referred to as adjuncts—had steadily become a more significant part of the professorship, and there was a general skepticism about the skyrocketing costs of college and concerns over whether a degree was worth it. Taken individually, he said, each sign was troubling enough. But when looked at together, they represented the outlines of a bleak future for higher education. Alexander, a self-described higher-education futurist and a former English professor, came to the conclusion that after nearly a half century of growth, higher education might be as big as it could get. It would, he reasoned, only get smaller from there.


It’s ironic, he says, that “we are living through the greatest time in history to be a learner,” with the availability of so many high-quality free materials online. But at the same time, the institutions most affiliated with knowledge and learning are facing crisis.

The once and future IndieWeb

In the beginning, the Web was a simple thing. A bit of HTML, running on a server you probably had root access to, and maybe even had running under your desk. Fast forward 20 years, and most of the Web’s content resides in silos, like Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. Our Web sites have become Tumblrs, or blogs hosted at WordPress.org. But this poses huge challenges for the longevity, integrity, and ultimately ownership of the content we create. In this presentation, Tantek Çelik, one of the great contributors to the open Web challenges us to re-imagine the “IndieWeb” from long ago.

Mary Meeker’s 2018 internet trends report: All the slides, plus analysis

Mary Meeker’s 2018 internet trends report: All the slides, plus analysis (Recode)

Here’s a first look at the most highly anticipated slide deck in Silicon Valley.

Mary Meeker, a former Morgan Stanley internet analyst and now partner at venture-capital fund Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, delivered her annual internet trends report at this year’s Code conference in California today (May 30).
Some interesting initial takeaways:

  • Global smartphone shipment growth has fallen to effectively nil.
  • Growth in the world’s number of internet users has also slowed to about 7% in 2016, down from 12% in 2016.
  • Roughly 50% of the world, about 3.6 billion people, now have some access to the internet.
  • The average adult spends about 6 hours per day with a digital device.
  • Wifi is everywhere: There are around 450 million wifi networks in the world, up from about 100 million five years ago.
  • There are three messaging apps—WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat—that each have more than 1 billion monthly active users.
  • Around 60% of all payment transactions are now done digitally, with over 500 million mobile payment users in China alone.
  • We’re spending around 30 minutes each day watching videos on mobile devices.
  • It’s estimated that there are more than 30 million Amazon Echo devices in users’ homes, up from about 10 million at the end of 2016.
  • Roughly 13% of all retail sales come from e-commerce, up from about 5% a decade ago.

Here are her slides.

Reconciling Privacy and Internet Freedom with Blockchain

Expert View: Reconciling Privacy and Internet Freedom with Blockchain by Alice Bonasio (Medium)

The past few months have seen a handful of data scandals emerge that have finally demonstrated to Brits the intrinsic value that their data holds, and the risks that come with giving it away so…

Post from Alice Bonacio discussing a possible future connection between privacy, security, and blockchain uses.
Bonacio posits “with privacy becoming an increasing concern, but users reluctant to sacrifice the ease of use that Internet freedom allows them, blockchain offers a solution to reconcile data protection with simplicity without the need for regulation.”
I know that blockchain is a frequent source of ridicule, but I do see a future in which users could have one page on the Internet that they use as their virtual CV, and this is fueled by a distributed, headless ledger system. I just don’t have the time, expertise, or coding chops to make this happen. If you do…send me a note. 🙂

Until recently, we have given our data away because we either didn’t realise we were doing so, or because we perceive it to be a small price to pay for an easy transaction. Data that holds value for all sorts of companies can be collected from any manner of online interactions; from a baking video you liked on Facebook, to the tube stop that you tap in at every morning with your contactless card.


It is clearly time for a shift in the way we view our data, and crucially, the way we secure it. Blockchain technology provides a solution that safeguards data without sacrificing any of the functionality that a free and open Internet provides. Blockchain is essentially a vast, distributed, ledger where data is stored across a web of different devices, rather than in one centralised place that makes it vulnerable to hacking. Most essentially, blockchain relies on sophisticated cryptography to ensure that all the data it stores is safely encrypted.


Candidates can then apply for jobs with a CV that is trusted and credible but; moreover, they are safe in the knowledge that their data is securely held. They can use their own biometric data to share the data they want, when they want, and they can employ smart contracts to dictate how long their data is accessible to the people they’ve shared it with, such as recruiters or potential employers.