Tag: racism



Hello All!

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.


Rapper Killer Mike: Engage with people who don’t look like you

Cities like Chicago, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis are reckoning with how police respond to incidents following a spate of deadly officer-involved shootings. CNN’s Brooke Baldwin speaks with rapper and activist Michael “Killer Mike” Render about what he believes can make a difference.


Hope Is A Discipline

A great discussion with activist, writer, and educator Mariame Kaba.

Make sure you listen to 36:40-45:55 if you’re in a time crunch. The transcript for this part of the interview is here.

For more, check out Kaba’s pieces in the NY Times, The Nation, and NPR.

‘We Need To Be Nurtured, Too’: Many Teachers Say They’re Reaching A Breaking Point

“The mental health and well-being of teachers can have a really important impact on the mental health and well-being of the children who they’re spending most of their days with,” Jennifer Greif Green, an education professor at Boston University explains. “Having teachers feel safe and supported in their school environments is essential to students learning and being successful.”

There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing

Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.

In psychology, we think about mental health on a spectrum from depression to flourishing. Flourishing is the peak of well-being: You have a strong sense of meaning, mastery, and mattering to others. Depression is the valley of ill-being: You feel despondent, drained, and worthless.

Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work. It appears to be more common than major depression — and in some ways, it may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness.

The Infrastructural Power Beneath the Internet as We Know It

Control over underlying tech infrastructure determines who benefits from it, raising the prospect of alternative ownership and profit models.

Perhaps we should begin thinking about Internet infrastructure in terms of a property landlord. It helps us think about power and what’s at stake when proposing alternatives to such centralization. Capital, and who controls it.

What’s at stake for both the tech industry and government regulators isn’t what is or isn’t infrastructure, but what the ownership and profit model for that infrastructure looks like and whom it benefits.

Substituting “the means of computation” for “infrastructure” isn’t going to make it any easier to alter those ownership models, but it might make it easier for us to focus on building and maintaining an internet that serves the public’s needs.

Welcome to the YOLO Economy

Burned out and flush with savings, some workers are quitting stable jobs in search of post-pandemic adventure.

YOLO is an acronym for “you only live once”. Along the same lines as the Latin carpe diem (‘seize the day’), it is a call to live life to its fullest extent, even embracing behavior that carries inherent risk. It became a popular internet slang term in 2012.

The pandemic is not over, and millions of Americans are still grieving the loss of jobs and loved ones. Not everyone can afford to throw caution to the wind. But for a growing number of people with financial cushions and in-demand skills, the dread and anxiety of the past year are giving way to a new kind of professional fearlessness.


The Blob Tree Test – ¿How do you feel today?

This is the Blob Tree test created by behavioral psychologist Pip Wilson, who is a psycho-educational gamester and EQ developer. This test helps us to recognize and strengthen emotions, and to some extent, understand our social status in society too. Each blob figure in this picture is in a different mood and has a different position on the tree.

How to use the Blob tree emotional test – There are hundreds of ways to use this image.


Each of the “blobs” in the tree has a different mood and has a different position. These are a variety of characters that express a variety of feelings. It is very important to use “blob”, instead of him or her, since they are not white men or women, they have no gender or color



Everything worthwhile is done with others.

Mariame Kaba

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Sea Glass cats are awesome.

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The Internet is a Crime Scene

The Internet is a Crime Scene

Welcome back friends. I hope you…and those around you…are safe.

This week I worked on the following:

  • Accessible and Approachable – We must make intellectual work accessible, and accessible work intellectual.
  • Monkeys Throwing Feces – Some insight as my partner decides to leave social media for the foreseeable future.
  • Fit Versus Fit – When we look for a job, there are usually two questions that many jobs will ask. Are you the right fit and are you the right fit?

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.


Green Child of Mine

This is the way.

You are welcome.


11 Tips to Help Children Process the Storming of the Capitol Building

  1. Be careful with curious eyes and ears
  2. Make this a teachable moment
  3. Reassure your kids that everyone is safe
  4. Listen to their concerns
  5. Pay attention
  6. Put your oxygen mask on first
  7. Explain that violence is never the answer
  8. Talk about consequences
  9. Give your kids a break
  10. Take a Screen Detox
  11. Tell stories of kindness

They Used to Post Selfies. Now They’re Trying to Reverse the Election

The Capitol siege was the biggest media spectacle of the Trump era. It will be interesting to see this leads to any change in our relationship to misinfromation.

Thsi will most likely lead to no changes as right-wing influencers who embraced extremist views have been rewarded by Facebool algorithms. Facebook adds fuel to the fire as the social network shows ads for military gear next to posts for the insurrection.

We need to ask questions about the use of the algorithmic internet, which acts as an accelerant for white supremacy.

Every Deleted Parler Post, Many With Users’ Location Data, Has Been Archived

In the wake of the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by scores of President Trump’s supporters, a lone researcher began an effort to catalog the posts of social media users across Parler, a platform founded to provide conservative users a safe haven for uninhibited “free speech” — but which ultimately devolved into a hotbed of far-right conspiracy theories, unchecked racism, and death threats aimed at prominent politicians.

The quick thinking of a self-described hacker by the name of donk_enby and a host of amateur data hoarders preserved more than 56.7 terabytes of data from Parler. This data included GPS metadata and videos from Parler and has been used to create an interactive map of this content.

Facial Recognition Technology Isn’t Good Just Because It’s Used to Arrest Neo-Nazis

Great post from Joan Donovan and Chris Gilliard on the risk and reward in our use of surveillance tech.

Crisis is often used to increase the reach of surveillance technologies. Many who consider the use of facial recognition technology ethically wrong in the context of policing take a different stance when it’s in the hands of researchers and journalists trying to identify neo-Nazis and insurrectionists. This could end up further entrenching facial recognition technology at a time when we should be working to ban it.

Teach Your White Kids About Their Privelege

Systemic racism is still a daily reality, white supremacists are feeling increasingly emboldened, and white people are inherently privileged. White parents need to talk with their white children about their privilege.

While we’re on the topic, this post by Dr. Laura M. Jimenez shares actionable advice on how to interupt whiteness in the classroom.


Six edtech tools to try in 2021

Jennifer Gonzalez from Cult of Pedagogy with a group of tools to check out this year.

  • Mote – audio feedback in Google Docs
  • AllSides – news from “all sides” of the political spectrum
  • Google Lens – use AR and machine learning to search
  • Bulb – student portfolio platform
  • EmbraceRace – a site created by an multiracial couple who wanted to do a better job of educating their children about race
  • Prezi Video – combines Prezi presentations and video



There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.

Henry Kissinger

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A Raven Queen Vanishes, and Britain Checks a Prophecy.

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When The Dust Settles

When The Dust Settles
Digitally Lit #267 – 11/7/2020

Welcome back to Digitally Literate. Thanks for showing up this week. You are appreciated.

This week I worked on 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.


The Most Searched: A Celebration of Black History Makers

See the full methodology behind the film and explore more here.


What if Facebook Is the Real ‘Silent Majority’?

Since the 2016 election, Kevin Roose, tech columnist for the NY Times, has been using CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned data tool that offers a bird’s-eye view of what’s popular on the social network. You can check out @FacebooksTop10, a Twitter account Roose created that shows the top 10 most-interacted-with link posts by U.S. Facebook pages every day.

Most days, the leader board looks roughly the same: conservative post after conservative post, with the occasional liberal interloper.
Conservative political influencers have spent years building a well-oiled media machine that swarms around every major news story, creating a torrent of viral commentary that reliably drowns out both the mainstream media and the liberal opposition.

The result is a kind of parallel media universe that left-of-center Facebook users may never encounter, but that has been stunningly effective in shaping its own version of reality.

Facebook Has A Metric For “Violence And Incitement Trends.” It’s Rising.

The metric, which assesses the potential for danger based on keywords, rose to 580 from 400 this week — a 45% increase.

Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation researcher and fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said she wasn’t aware Facebook had a metric for “violence and incitement” trends and was heartened that they were tracking it. Still, she said, suppression of individual hashtags “is not going to do the trick.”

“We’re talking about the broader structure of Facebook that incentivizes these communities to organize and foster offline violence,” Jankowicz said. “I’m not sure they have a handle on it at all. It’s a structure that they’re relying on to keep people engaged and make money these days.”

Schrödinger’s Ballot Box

Great post from Laura Jimenez.

So, what are you going to do about that when the dust settles?
How are you going to work to learn and unlearn and teach your family, your students, or your colleagues to see and read in new ways?

Leaders may change. The problems remain. Do the work.

A New Hippocratic Oath Asks Doctors To Fight Racial Injustice And Misinformation

In addition to reciting the traditional Hippocratic Oath during the White Coat Ceremony on Aug. 16, the members of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Class of 2024 started a new tradition by writing their own class oath to acknowledge their ever-evolving responsibilities as physicians.

What responsibility do leaders have as they post and interact in society?

I’m wondering if a corrolary for this type of oath exists for educators and researchers…

Greta Thunberg Hears Your Excuses. She Is Not Impressed.

An interview with Greta Thunberg on the release of the “I Am Greta” documentary on Hulu.

Her compelling clarity about the scale of the crisis and moral indignation at the inadequate political response have been hugely influential in shifting public opinion.

We still need to communicate the positive things, but above that we need to communicate reality. In order to be able to change things we need to understand where we are at. We can’t spread false hope. That’s practically not a very wise thing to do. Also, it’s morally wrong that people are building on false hope.


Inclusive Design Un-Guide

I’m planning on following (writing along with) this project. I hope you’ll join me.

Each month, a pair of provocateurs will post a new provocation and invite you to reflect, react, and respond. You’ll find the provocations on the home page of this site. You can participate by reflecting on the provocation and making something in response. You may choose to share your response with other participants (if sharing on social media, we encourage using the hashtag #InclusiveDesignUnGuide, or you may prefer not to share. Either way is fine. For more info, check out the FAQ page.



Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

Barack Obama

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If you’re in the US and Canada, I recommend and use Dear Sunday candles. You can follow the company on Facebook and Instagram.

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Silence no longer an option

Silence no longer an option
Digitally Lit #261 – 9/26/2020

Welcome back to Digitally Literate.

We’re making changes here at DL. First off, I reopened the blog feed for the site. That means that you can just scroll down from the homepage and see all of the issues.

Second, I’m building up an open, online course as part of DL. I’ll have more info coming soon, but here’s a sneak peek of the first wave of learning events. This is for the educator in Pre-K up through higher ed that wants to be digitally literate in terms of teaching, learning, & assessment. Enjoy. 🙂

This week I worked on 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 let me know what you think of this work at hello@digitallyliterate.net.


How students of color confront impostor syndrome

Dena Simmons discusses how we might create a classroom that makes all students feel proud of who they are. “Every child deserves an education that guarantees the safety to learn in the comfort of one’s own skin,” she says.

For more guidance on imposter syndrome, check out this post from TED-Ed.


We Need to Talk About Talking About QAnon

For those of you that do not spend their time deep in the online wormhole of conspiracy and misinformation threads, you may not know about QAnon. QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory alleging that a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles running a global child sex-trafficking ring is plotting against President Donald Trump, who is battling them, leading to a “day of reckoning” involving the mass arrest of journalists and politicians.

Whitney Phillips on how we need to talk about how a person’s existing worldview feeds into & is fed by recommendation algorithms. This is how the attention economy has has become possible, profitable & untouchable.

QAnon seems to be rebranding as they get more attention.

Telling the Truth About Slavery Is Not ‘Indoctrination’

Clint Smith on how our country is made better, not worse, by young people reckoning with the full legacy of the institution.

Such reckoning better prepares them to make sense of how our country has come to be, and how to build systems and institutions predicated on justice rather than oppression. Nothing is more patriotic than that.

Whose Anger Counts?

Whitney Phillips on how cancel culture can go wrong. But that doesn’t mean the objections of far-right trolls and social justice activists should be mistaken for having equal worth.

If you truly want to do something about cancel culture, take the radical step of doing what you do for everyone else. See them.

Raising Good Gamers: Envisioning an Agenda for Diversity, Inclusion, and Fair Play

In February 2020, leading researchers, game developers, educators, policymakers, youth experts, and others convened for an in-depth exploration of the forces shaping the culture and climate of online game communities and the impact of antisocial and toxic interactions on players ages 8-13.

This report from the Connected Learning Alliance synthesizes outputs and recommendations focused on the following prompts:

  • How might we develop and support gaming communities that cultivate empathetic, compassionate, and civically engaged youth?
  • What might it look like to develop youth’s socio-emotional capacities to positively shape the climate of gaming clubs and communities?
  • What role can the design of games, gaming communities, and associated technologies play in mitigating abuse?
  • How do we build the foundations of a healthy community directly into the platforms and communities themselves?

Teach Writing with the New English Language Arts Pack

Check out the new English Language Arts Minecraft Pack created in partnership with the National Writing Project. These 10 lessons for Minecraft: Education Edition focus on world-building and engage students in a game-based learning experience that will help them learn about the writing process.

This post from Christina Cantrill details the project, and how to get students to express their creativity through these worlds.

To learn more, check out the National Writing Project podcast episode featuring Joe Dillon.

If you’re new to Minecraft: Education Edition, head to education.minecraft.net/get-started.


8 Strategies to Improve Participation in Your Virtual Classroom

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Synchronous Strategies:

  • Spider web discussion
  • Using chat to check for understanding
  • Flip your classroom to stimulate deeper discussion
  • Adapting think-pair-share to Zoom
  • A new twist on show-and-tell

Asynchronous Strategies:

  • Online forums create back-and-forth dialogue
  • Seeing and critiquing peer work through virtual gallery walks
  • Moving station brainstorming online



It’s good to treat your inspirations as precious.

Trent Reznor in Rolling Stone

digilit bannerWonderful read. Thinking about identity, privilege & fragility.

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Beyond Fear, Destiny Awaits

Beyond Fear, Destiny Awaits
Digitally Lit #259 – 9/12/2020

Welcome back to Digitally Literate and issue #259.

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. Thank you to all of my friends that reached out via email and the socials to express thanks for coming back…and looking forward to see what changes might be afoot. You are appreciated. ❤️

This week I worked on the following:

  • Going high tech without losing high touch – As we move to digital spaces, we cannot lose what it is that makes us human.
  • My DIY Peloton – Quarantining for months has added on some pounds and tons of stress. Years of playing rugby makes my knees dead when I want to go for long runs. Here is how we’re trying to stay fit as a family.
  • Humans Have Bodies – This open letter to my children has been a long time in the making.


San Francisco In Fire Sky

I need you to care that our planet is on fire.

Blazes like the ones currently overpowering the West Coast have become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change. Fire seasons have grown longer, and larger areas of land are going up in flames.


Hate Social Media? You’ll Love This Documentary

The Social Dilemma — a new Netflix documentary out this weekend — makes the case that social media is humanity’s greatest existential threat.

Social media itself is not the existential threat. Rather, it’s the way that social media surfaces and amplifies the worst of humanity.

Trump orders crackdown on federal antiracism training, calling it ‘anti-American’

I’m hesitant to share this news as it seems like another example of the President and his administration shouting about something that will never materialize. I do think it is troubling as it creates oxygen for those groups that agree with these narratives.

Trump orders crackdown on federal antiracism training, calling it ‘anti-American.’

This pushes back on any training materials “that teaches, trains or suggests the following: (1) virtually all White people contribute to racism or benefit from racism (2) critical race theory (3) white privilege (4) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country (5) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil (6) Anti-American propaganda.”

The Department of Education indicated that they plan to scrutinize a wide range of employee activities – including internal book clubs – in search of “Anti-American propaganda” and discussions about “white privilege” as it carries out the White House’s demand that federal agencies halt certain types of race-related training.

How Conspiracy Theories Are Shaping the 2020 Election—and Shaking the Foundation of American Democracy

It’s hard to know exactly why people believe what they believe.

When asked where they found their information, almost all these voters were cryptic: “Go online,” one woman said. “Dig deep,” added another. They seemed to share a collective disdain for the mainstream media–a skepticism that has only gotten stronger and deeper since 2016. The truth wasn’t reported, they said, and what was reported wasn’t true.

How forcing colleges to go online could change higher education for the better

Matthew Yglesias trying to identify a possible silver lining to the fact that the global pandemic has pushed our learning environments to virtual spaces.

This desire to “reinvent higher education” is a common narrative that is trotted out every couple of years. I prefer this piece from 2010. I remember being excited about iTunes U when I started up my first program in higher ed.

I do wonder about the lessons we should learn about educational technologies as we head through these times. More to come.

If you’d like to chart out that future, check out the manifesto for teaching online.

How Are You Combating Your Kid’s Zoom Fatigue?

Sadly, Zoom is now critical infrastructure. As part of this, we’re seeing youth tuning in to courses remotely using a variety of tools.

How are you ensuring that your students and children are not endlessly staring at screens all day?


Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life

This episode of The Art of Manliness podcast focuses on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

…if people don’t know what their values are, they take their goals, the concrete things they can achieve, to be their values.

Thanks to Doug Belshaw for the tip.



In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.


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Beyond fear, destiny awaits.

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Collective Sensemaking

Collective Sensemaking
Digitally Lit #252 – 6/27/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #251 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.

I was involved in the following content this week:


Abolitionist Teaching and the Future of Our Schools

A conversation with Bettina Love, Gholdy Muhammad, Dena Simmons and Brian Jones about abolitionist teaching and antiracist education.

What would freedom look like in our schools?

How can abolitionist educators make the most of this moment to fight for humane, liberatory, anti-racist schooling for black youth and for all youth?

The coronavirus pandemic has transformed the US education system overnight. The antiracist rebellion in the streets has shown a light on the deep racial inequality in America.


Misinformation, Crisis, and Public Health—Reviewing the Literature

The Covid-19 pandemic comes at a time when we were already grappling with information overload and pervasive misinformation. This review of the literature by Kate Starbird, Emma S. Spiro, and Kolina Koltai explores the tactics and intentions of those spreading these streams.

In a crisis, humans communicate in a process called collective sensemaking in order to understand uncertain and dynamic circumstances. Collective sensemaking is a vital process, but we can make mistakes—or the process can be manipulated and exploited.

New research explores how conservative media misinformation may have intensified the severity of the pandemic

As the global pandemic begins to accelerate in the U.S., especially in my area, simple steps like wearing masks while in public tends to be a political statement. What initially seemed to be an anecdotal observation, now seems to be backed up by some research.

Numerous studies paint a picture of a media ecosystem that entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking steps to protect themselves and others.

I recommend reading more on this topic:

Simulating COVID Spread in College Setting

A new working paper from professors at Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania models the spread of COVID-19 in a large university setting to examine what mitigation efforts are most effective against the spread of the disease.

The working paper builds off work from Kim Weeden and Benjamin Cornwell, sociology professors at Cornell University, who modeled student interconnectedness from course enrollment patterns.

TikTok teens and K-pop stans don’t belong to the “resistance”

Not long after I shared out last week’s newsletter, a lot of news was made about TikTok Teens, and K-Pop Stans interfering with Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I’ve been suggesting for years that adults don’t really understand how to use these digital, social spaces…and we need to spend more time studying and amplifying the practices employed by youth. This usually is met by harsh criticism from colleagues indicating that adults should guide youth and show them the way.

Not soon after the initial news stories, we see the media hop in to push back against glorification of these online forces. Stories about TikTok Teens and Pizzagate suggest that Gen Z will not save us, and that the kids are not all right.

I don’t agree.

The 7 elements of a good online course

The seven elements of a good online course by George Veletsianos

  • A good online course is informed by issues of equity and justice
  • A good online course is interactive
  • A good online course is engaging and challenging
  • A good online course involves practice…doing…and doing again
  • A good online course is effective
  • A good online course includes an instructor who is visible and active, and who exhibits care, empathy and trust for students
  • A good online course promotes student agency


Not everything has to be digital: my analogue daily and weekly planners

Doug Belshaw provides his templates for use in daily and weekly planning.

This is part of Belshaw’s #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com



You are what you read. You are what you write.

Ian O’Byrne 🙂

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

Black metal jazz made by people in weird masks is what the world needs right now.

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Do The Work

Do The Work
Digitally Lit #250 – 6/6/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #250 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.

Do The Work – To ensure that we don’t fall back to sleep in a state of complacency, we need to prepare for when the protests, social media buzz, & hashtags fade. In short, we need to do the work.

To address these challenges, we are creating a learning community to support individuals as they become allies, and then eventually accomplices for anti-racist work.

Please review & identify the level you believe best suits your needs. We will create safe, brave spaces to support your learning & growth. We need facilitators…so please consider helping out with this work.


Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man

Emmanuel Acho sits down to have an “uncomfortable conversation” with white America, in order to educate and inform on racism, system racism, social injustice, rioting & the hurt African Americans are feeling today.


The Story Has Gotten Away From Us

Betsy Morais and Alexandria Neason with a reset of the events that have occurred over the first sixth months of 2020.

As someone who regularly builds digital content, I really appreciate the style and design of this post. The photojournalism and writing pair nicely. You’ll also notice that the background for the page slowly fades to black as you scroll down. Awesome stuff.

The Floyd Protests Show That Twitter Is Real Life

You’ll sometimes see people suggest that social media, specifically Twitter, is not “real life.”

In this post, Charlie Warzel asks whether social media is a reflection of real life.

I reached out to Doug Belshaw to try and understand this and he suggested reading this to make sense of the society of the spectacle.

Protest misinformation is riding on the success of pandemic hoaxes

Misinformation about police brutality protests is being spread by the same sources as covid-19 denial. In a normal world, instead of worrying about Antifa bus panics, we’d be more concerned about some of the memes come to life in the boogaloo movement.

The troubling results suggest what might come next.

We’re in the middle of a widespread misinformation/disinformation war. We know that critical evaluation of online information & media literacy has been a problem for decades. We now have forces that are leaning in on this weakness to put us in different worlds.

For more on this, read this report on source hacking.

Eight Lessons for Talking About Race, Racism, and Racial Justice

Some entry points on applying VPSA (Value, Problem, Solution, Action) to talk about race, racism, and racial justice.

  • Lead with Shared Values: Justice, Opportunity, Community, Equity;
  • Use Values as a Bridge, Not a Bypass;
  • Know the Counter Narratives;
  • Talk About the Systemic Obstacles to Equal Opportunity and Equal Justice;
  • Be Rigorously Solution-Oriented and Forward-Looking;
  • Consider Audience and Goals;
  • Be Explicit about the Different Causes of Racial vs. Socioeconomic Disparities;
  • Describe How Racial Bias and Discrimination Hold Us All Back.

7 Strategies Designed to Increase Student Engagement in Synchronous Online Discussions Using Video Conferencing

Caitlin Tucker with guidance on keeping it simple as you design online video discussions.

  • Provide students with an agenda and a list of discussion questions ahead of time;
  • Communicate your expectations for participation and behavior online;
  • Ask students to generate their own discussion questions;
  • Start every virtual conferencing session with an icebreaker question or a quick check-in;
  • Use the chat window strategically;
  • Host shorter sessions with fewer students;
  • Ask students to assess their participation online.


Beware of Performative Allyship

Some signs of performative allyship:

  • The post is usually simple;
  • It almost always expresses itself as outrage, disbelief, or anger “at the injustice”;
  • It refuses to acknowledge any personal responsibility for the systemic issues that provided the context for the relevant tragedy;
  • Perhaps most noticeable, it’s usually met with praise, approval, or admiration for the person expressing it.

Activism can’t begin and end with a hashtag. Here’s what you can do instead:

  • Act with your wallet;
  • Call out people in real life;
  • Inform yourself;
  • Do something that no one will ever know.



Real Gs move in silence like lasagna.

Lil Wayne

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

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

Sometimes We Must Interfere

Sometimes we must interfere
Digitally Lit #249 – 6/6/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #249 of Digitally Literate. Each week in this newsletter, I synthesize the news of the week in education, technology, & literacy. Thank you for joining us.

This week’s issue was a very hard one to pull together. I hope you find value in this.

I also helped post the following:

  • Do I really have to read & write? – Elinor Lister provides ways that teachers can create engaging and meaningful ways for teachers across content areas to implement reading and writing in the classroom.

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.


Generations of Pain


Curtis Hayes Jr., 31, roared his way into the American psyche with a furious message for two black protesters — one 14 years older than him, one 15 years younger — who were trying to make a stand against American racism, a problem ages older than any of them.

Read more here. The transcript is available here.


How Western media would cover Minneapolis if it happened in another country

The ongoing protests following the killing of George Floyd were caught up in violence again throughout the past week. Much of the story on the local news and social media focused on the violence of the protesters. There is mounting evidence that police, and outside accelerationists are to blame for much of the destruction we’ve seen in these events.

Violent protests are not the story. Police violence is.

We should also consider whether cellphone videos of black people’s deaths should be considered sacred, like lynching photographs.

Stop viewing footage of black people dying so casually. Instead, cellphone videos of vigilante violence and fatal police encounters should be viewed like lynching photographs – with solemn reserve and careful circulation.

How to Avoid Spreading Misinformation About the Protests

As the protests surge, misinformation about the situation is also surging online. These information streams would make you think that George Floyd’s death never happened, or pin the blame on radical left anarchists, or ANTIFA.

In the post above, Whitney Phillips indicates that minimizing the harms of polluted information is a social justice issue and it is the only way we all can keep from drowning.

K-Pop Fans Have Been Vanquishing Racist Hashtags and Police Apps. Who had “K-pop fans go to war online in service of Black Lives Matter” on their 2020 bingo card?

What it means to be anti-racist

Discussions of racism and anti-racism have been getting a lot of attention in recent days as Americans around the country rise up against police violence.

In this, I see a number of white folks that are struggling with understanding systemic racism, institutional racism, and privilege. The following video is an excellent lesson about privilege.


Courtney Ariel provides guidance for white friends desiring to be allies.

  • Listen more, talk less;
  • Try to listen and sit with someone else’s experience;
  • Educate yourself about systemic racism in this country. Use your voice and influence to direct the folks that walk alongside you in real life (or follow you on the internet), toward the voice of someone that is living a marginalized/disenfranchised experience;
  • Come into a place of awareness. Please take several seats;
  • Ask when you don’t know, but do the work first;
  • Stop talking about colorblindness.

I have made these mistakes several times, and I will most likely make them again. I’m thankful for the trust and guidance from colleagues and friends as they show me compassion.

How to Protest Safely in the Age of Surveillance

Law enforcement has more tools than ever to track your movements and access your communications. Here’s how to protect your privacy if you plan to protest.

The human rights organization WITNESS provides guidance on how to safely and ethically film police misconduct.

Building Kids’ Resilience through Play Is More Crucial Than Ever

For years, educators have been challenged with preparing students for jobs and technology that don’t even exist yet.

What was already an ambitious task for the global education system has been amplified, and the uncertainty today’s students face is even greater.

How will you build…and help others build…the social, emotional, physical & cognitive skills needed now and in the future?


Do The Work.

For white people who are interested in getting more intentional about deepening their understanding of racism and anti-racism work…it is time to do the work. First listen, then learn.

Next week I’m helping to start up an anti-racist reading group. I’ll share more info soon. We’ll select materials from this list of world-saving books from Baratunde Thurston.



I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

Elie Wiesel

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

Hip-Hop friends & fans – Run The Jewels released their latest RTJ4 a couple of days early with a free download. Instead of purchasing the album, they ask that you donate to a charity. Please note, this music is NSFW. It contains bad words…consider yourself warned.

One of my favorites is walking in the snow. @KillerMike is straight fire in the middle of the track. Please note, this was recorded last fall. The lyrics are referencing the 2014 killing of Eric Garner. It contains many questions for those of is in education.

Connect 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.

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A Sociologist Examines the “White Fragility” That Prevents White Americans from Confronting Racism

A Sociologist Examines the “White Fragility” That Prevents White Americans from Confronting Racism

Robin DiAngelo argues that our largely segregated society is set up to insulate whites from racial discomfort, so that they fall to pieces at the first application of stress.

Book review of White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo in The New Yorker. View annotations in context.

In more than twenty years of running diversity-training and cultural-competency workshops for American companies, the academic and educator Robin DiAngelo has noticed that white people are sensationally, histrionically bad at discussing racism. Like waves on sand, their reactions form predictable patterns: they will insist that they “were taught to treat everyone the same,” that they are “color-blind,” that they “don’t care if you are pink, purple, or polka-dotted.” They will point to friends and family members of color, a history of civil-rights activism, or a more “salient” issue, such as class or gender. They will shout and bluster. They will cry. In 2011, DiAngelo coined the term “white fragility” to describe the disbelieving defensiveness that white people exhibit when their ideas about race and racism are challenged—and particularly when they feel implicated in white supremacy. Why, she wondered, did her feedback prompt such resistance, as if the mention of racism were more offensive than the fact or practice of it?


DiAngelo attempts to explicate the phenomenon of white people’s paper-thin skin. She argues that our largely segregated society is set up to insulate whites from racial discomfort, so that they fall to pieces at the first application of stress—such as, for instance, when someone suggests that “flesh-toned” may not be an appropriate name for a beige crayon. Unused to unpleasantness (more than unused to it—racial hierarchies tell white people that they are entitled to peace and deference), they lack the “racial stamina” to engage in difficult conversations. This leads them to respond to “racial triggers”—the show “Dear White People,” the term “wypipo”—with “emotions such as anger, fear and guilt,” DiAngelo writes, “and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and withdrawal from the stress-inducing situation.”


And the expectation of “white solidarity”—white people will forbear from correcting each other’s racial missteps, to preserve the peace—makes genuine allyship elusive. White fragility holds racism in place.


DiAngelo addresses her book mostly to white people, and she reserves her harshest criticism for white liberals like herself (and like me), whom she sees as refusing to acknowledge their own participation in racist systems. “I believe,” she writes, “that white progressives cause the most daily damage to people of color.” Not only do these people fail to see their complicity, but they take a self-serving approach to ongoing anti-racism efforts: “To the degree that white progressives think we have arrived, we will put our energy into making sure that others see us as having arrived.”


Whites profit off of an American political and economic system that showers advantages on racial “winners” and oppresses racial “losers.” Yet, DiAngelo writes, white people cling to the notion of racial innocence, a form of weaponized denial that positions black people as the “havers” of race and the guardians of racial knowledge. Whiteness, on the other hand, scans as invisible, default, a form of racelessness. “Color blindness,” the argument that race shouldn’t matter, prevents us from grappling with how it does.




To be perceived as an individual, to not be associated with anything negative because of your skin color, she notes, is a privilege largely afforded to white people;


In DiAngelo’s almost epidemiological vision of white racism, our minds and bodies play host to a pathogen that seeks to replicate itself, sickening us in the process. Like a mutating virus, racism shape-shifts in order to stay alive; when its explicit expression becomes taboo, it hides in coded language.


“The most effective adaptation of racism over time,” DiAngelo claims, “is the idea that racism is conscious bias held by mean people.” This “good/bad binary,” positing a world of evil racists and compassionate non-racists, is itself a racist construct, eliding systemic injustice and imbuing racism with such shattering moral meaning that white people, especially progressives, cannot bear to face their collusion in it. (Pause on that, white reader. You may have subconsciously developed your strong negative feelings about racism in order to escape having to help dismantle it.)


DiAngelo sets aside a whole chapter for the self-indulgent tears of white women, so distraught at the country’s legacy of racist terrorism that they force people of color to drink from the firehose of their feelings about it.

Possible solutions? Answers?

listen, don’t center yourself, get educated, think about your responses and what role they play


For all the paranoid American theories of being “red-pilled,” of awakening into a many-tentacled liberal/feminist/Jewish conspiracy, the most corrosive force, the ectoplasm infusing itself invisibly through media and culture and politics, is white supremacy.