Tag: internet

Falling & Breaking


Hey there! Welcome back all.

This week I posted the following:

  • Memoir and the Creative Process – This is a follow-up to my earlier post about mental health and depression. We don’t always recognize the gifts we’re given by suffering through disappointing and difficult times until long after the fact.
  • Today Is the Tomorrow We Should Have Prepared for Yesterday – A recent pub in Voices From The Middle looking at Post-COVID and education. As educators, we must focus on how we can use this crisis to re-center what we know to be most valuable about education: the peer and mentor relationships that underpin students’ learning and the opportunities to pursue meaningful social and intellectual goals.
  • Application for the WIRED Resilience Residency Program – I applied for the WIRED Resilience Residency but didn’t make it past the first round. They received about 200 applications from around the globe. I’m interested to see who makes the cut. I’m sharing my letter of application to promote open scholarship and transparency.

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.


My process of making a vinyl set episode

I love the My Analog Journal YouTube channel.

It’s basically like having a DJ show up in your house to play a set of music on given theme or genre.

I also love process videos. In this video, they share the whole process of research, finding the records, recording, then finally releasing the video.


Common Challenges When Teaching About Equity and Social Justice

Critical race theory has been studied for decades, but it received relatively little attention in the wider cultural sphere until the past year, when conservatives adopted it as a catch-all term to demonize and discredit the anti-racist, anti–police brutality movements that sprang up in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

Its academic context, which is chiefly concerned with the endemic racism in American institutions and power structures, is being wielded as a means to gin up a moral panic.

This resource from Shawna Coppola is a great primer to use as you discuss these topics with others.

Is This The Big Tech Break-UP We’ve Been Waiting For?

With an ambitious package of Big Tech antitrust legislation, Congress is trying to restrain the power of Big Tech and stave off corporate consolidation.

The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act, one of the five bills introduced last week, would effectively put an end to the tech giants’ ability to make acquisitions.

This interview by Kara Swisher provides come context on whether such a broad ban could have serious unintended consequences and lead to less competition, not more.

NTIA’s Indicators of Broadband Need

We like to think of the internet as a supremely easy way to connect to people all over the world, and in many regards this is true. For many, though, high-speed broadband is either unaffordable or completely unavailable.

This interactive map from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) shows that the problem is much worse that we initially thought.

Why People Fall For Conspiracy Theories

Every one of us has a brain that takes shortcuts, makes assumptions and works in irrational ways. The sooner we recognize that, and stop treating loved ones who have adopted conspiratorial beliefs as lost causes, the better we may be at curbing the beliefs that threaten our democracy and public health. We’re all human after all.

Evolution of the Dad

Most male mammals have little or nothing to do with their kids. Why is our own species different?

Many mysteries remain, though, about how human fathers evolved their peculiar, highly invested role, including the hormonal changes that accompany fatherhood. A deeper understanding of where dads came from, and why fatherhood matters for both fathers and children, could benefit families of all kinds.


The Top 5 Things 2020 Taught Us About Remote Work

Whatever the future of work holds, use the lessons of the past year to get smarter about how you work and manage employees from home.

  • Get more intentional about the things you do
  • Hone your relationship-building skills
  • Show your team you trust them
  • Make writing skills your new superpower
  • Find out what individual employees need



Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.


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

Dark Patterns


Welcome back, friends. Thank you to all of you that regularly (or irregularly) reach out and say hey each week. I value learning how you’re doing in your worlds.

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. Feel free to reach out and say hey at hello@digitallyliterate.net.


Being A Dad is Awesome

As the kids get older, we’re able to head out a bit more and go on adventures. What once was a battle to take a walk around the block, might soon lead to a family bike ride.

I’ve been in the market for a mountain bike that I can rebuild…or possibly rebuild my own and ride with the kids. Thankfully, the YouTube algorithms brought me this video and the oldshovel YouTube channel. Think of it as part ASMR, part bike repair. It was just the therapy I needed this week.


Facebook Stopped Employees From Reading An Internal Report About Its Role In The Insurrection. You Can Read It Here.

Facebook Knows It Was Used To Help Incite The Capitol Insurrection.

TLDR of the report:

  • Stop the Steal (StS) grew rapidly after the election as a movement, but Facebook enforcement was piecemeal.
  • Treating StS as a network allowed Facebook to understand coordination in the movement and how harm persisted at the network level. This harm was more than the sum of its parts.
  • Examining the StS network allowed Facebook to observe the growth of Patriot Party.
  • Facebook learned a lot from these cases. They’re building tools and protocols and having policy discussions to help Facebook do this better next time as part of the Disaggregating Networks taskforce.

Taking Action on Dark Patterns

On Thursday, April 29th, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) hosted a workshop on the problem of “dark patterns.”

The concept, little more than a decade old, was coined by user experience designer Harry Brignull in 2010 to describe “deceptive user interfaces.”

At its workshop, the FTC seeks to “explore the ways in which user interfaces can have the effect, intentionally or unintentionally, of obscuring, subverting, or impairing consumer autonomy, decision-making, or choice.”

This Twitter thread by Yael Eisenstat is an excellent review of the questions we should be asking.

For more on dark patterns, review the following video from The Nerdwriter.

Ethical AI? Children’s Rights and Autonomy in Digital Spaces

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to help children thrive in some online spaces. While heavily debated, AI is being used to track down child predators, help eliminate bias in child welfare cases, and even predict which schoolchildren will need extra assistance in the classroom.

But as a new and exponentially growing field, there is potential that this technology, if not used ethically and thoughtfully, might hurt this next generation of children – a generation that is growing up shared in a way adults could have never dreamed of when they came of age even only a decade ago.

On Social Media, American-Style Free Speech Is Dead

Major platforms’ policies aren’t actually inspired by the First Amendment. evelyn douek says that’s a good thing.

In a new article published by the Columbia Law Review, she argues that the pandemic exposed the hollowness of social media platforms’ claims to American-style free speech absolutism.

In this interview she suggests that to recognize that “the First Amendment–inflected approach to online speech governance that dominated the early internet no longer holds. Instead, platforms are now firmly in the business of balancing societal interests.”

How to Be an Antiracist Supervisor: Start with Changing What You Call Yourself

What would we call ourselves if we were not using terms rooted in oppression? What would we do differently?

What would it be like to center health and wellness in our approach to our work with our teams?


GyShiDo – The art of getting your shit done

Thankful to Doug Belshaw for sending this along.

  1. Relentless focus
  2. Single task
  3. Boring consistency
  4. No bullshit
  5. No meetings
  6. Follow up
  7. Don’t be an asshole



I’m increasingly thinking that every functioning system has two forms: The abstraction that outsiders are led to believe, and the reality that insiders actually and carefully operate. You don’t incrementally learn a system. You eventually unlearn its necessary lies.

Dan Kaminsky

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Next on the menu…foolproof cacio e pepe.

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

Cover image CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Sheri Edwards

Shattered Myths

Shattered Myths
Digitally Lit #244 – 5/2/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #244 of Digitally Literate.

I was involved in the following this week:

Reflections of a school counselor during the 2020 school closures – Together with a group of colleagues in SC, we’re holding space for educators to reflect & heal.

This month’s focus is on trauma informed teaching. This first post from Guy Ilagan is all about school counselors and compassion fatigue. I think this is a topic that many of us are in the middle of right now.

“Compassion fatigue is a secondary traumatization that affects our mood, health, and regard for our students and work. Providing empathy and understanding to students in crisis can lead to compassion fatigue.”.

Professor Supports Educators in the Wake of COVID-19 – My institution wrote up a piece about me and my work to assist higher ed in the current situation.

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.


Different types of Zoomers


This YouTuber captured every kind of Zoom user you’ve met recently. Read more here.

Which one are you? 🙂


Covid-19 has blown apart the myth of Silicon Valley innovation

This global pandemic has laid bare the broken and decayed parts of our society. It has also awakened us to the false narrative around tech innovation.

There is a belief that tech companies will be there to develop some new solution that will save us from ourselves. The truth is that most of the tech industry is good at building anything of value.

The pandemic has made clear this festering problem: the US is no longer very good at coming up with new ideas and technologies relevant to our most basic needs. We’re great at devising shiny, mainly software-driven bling that makes our lives more convenient in many ways. But we’re far less accomplished at reinventing health care, rethinking education, making food production and distribution more efficient, and, in general, turning our technical know-how loose on the largest sectors of the economy.

The struggle to save and remake public higher education

The promise of college as a clear path to the future is a stunningly resilient myth.

This piece by Laura Czerniewicz outlines the current problems in higher ed. What is needed right now is unity of purpose in order to make decisions that will save public higher education and enable it to be reshaped for the unknown future.

To move forward, we need to start with the “old normal of learning”, while not succumbing to the datafication of teaching.

Distance Learning Is Taking an Emotional Toll on Students

A look at “triage pedagogy” — an effort to “stem the educational bleed as best we can in order to survive the rest of the semester.”

The coronavirus pandemic has forced schools at every level to grapple with a reality in which the fundamental assumptions upon which they normally operate — that the majority of students are in good health and have a relatively clear vision of the future ahead — no longer apply.

53% of Americans Say the Internet Has Been Essential During the COVID-19 Outbreak

A new Pew Research Center survey conducted in early April finds that roughly half of U.S. adults (53%) say the internet has been essential for them personally during the pandemic and another 34% describe it as “important, but not essential.”

The research suggests:

How to cope with an infodemic

We’re always in the process of defining acceptable forms of speech and other content in digital, informational spaces, even as the global pandemic changes the way we view big tech.

Kate Starbird with a great piece on how some of the digital, social spaces strive to set effective boundaries for a great deal of speech in the U.S. public forum.


Turn Your Quarantine Video Chats into a Podcast

I help create a podcast or two. This seems like a good way to spin off a video chat into a podcast feed. You could create audio feeds of lectures or discussions that students can review offline on their devices.



A myth is a religion in which no one any longer believes.

James Feibleman

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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 AI fueled meme generator is exactly what you didn’t know you needed this week. Read more here.

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.

The World Wide Web: The Invention That Connected The World

Happy 30th Birthday to the World Wide Web.

The world wide web was invented by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 – originally he was trying to find a new way for scientists to easily share the data from their experiments. Hypertext (text displayed on a computer display that links to other text the reader can immediately access) and the internet already existed, but no one had thought of a way to use the internet to link one document directly to another.

Find out more about the work Berners-Lee conducted at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland.

There are three main ingredients that make up the world wide web. URL (uniform resource locator), which is the addressing scheme to find a document; HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol), which connects computers together; and HTML (hypertext markup language), which formats pages containing hypertext links.

The video below shares some info about how the web has developed since its creation.

SOURCE: Google Arts & Culture

An Avalanche of Speech Can Bury Democracy

An Avalanche of Speech Can Bury Democracy

For the longest time, we thought that as speech became more democratized, democracy itself would flourish. But in 2018, it is increasingly clear that more speech can in fact threaten democracy.

Zeynep Tufecki in Politico Magazine. All annotations in context.

But in the digital age, when speech can exist mostly unfettered, the big threat to truth looks very different. It’s not just censorship, but an avalanche of undistinguished speech—some true, some false, some fake, some important, some trivial, much of it out-of-context, all burying us.

Perhaps unlimited, unfettered access to information is not always a positive.

For the longest time, we thought that as speech became more democratized, democracy itself would flourish. As more and more people could broadcast their words and opinions, there would be an ever-fiercer battle of ideas—with truth emerging as the winner, stronger from the fight. But in 2018, it is increasingly clear that more speech can in fact threaten democracy. The glut of information we now face, made possible by digital tools and social media platforms, can bury what is true, greatly elevate and amplify misinformation and distract from what is important.

In the end, we deal with this by trusting individuals in our circle of friends, and express exhaustion or mental fatigue elsewhere.
Perhaps we need new tools to help users as they search and synthesize these texts, tools, and spaces.

How can we get back to that common ground? We need new mechanisms—suited to the digital age—that allow for a shared understanding of facts and that focus our collective attention on the most important problems.

“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.

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.

Mozilla's Internet Health Report 2018

Mozilla’s Internet Health Report 2018 (internethealthreport.org)

Mozilla’s Internet Health Report is about the human experience of the Internet.

Here’s what’s new: More people are opening their eyes to the real impact the Internet has on our societies, economies, and personal wellbeing. We are beginning to see the health of the Internet as not just a technical issue, but a human one.
This report features global insights and perspectives across five issues: Privacy and security, Openness, Digital inclusion, Web literacy and Decentralization.