Tag: trust

The Coming War

The Coming War
Digitally Lit #271 – 12/05/2020

Thank you for being here. You are valued.

This week I worked on the following:

  • Trust, But Verify – Users of the Internet become pawns in a flow of information that circulates endlessly in the ether causing a contagion that is nearly insurmountable.
  • Shades of Gray – Absolute truth becomes even more subjective as there are very few things that are clearly right or wrong.

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1981 Nightline interview with Steve Jobs


Ted Koppel, Bettina Gregory, and Ken Kashiwahara present news stories from 1981 on the relevancy of computers in every day life and how they will affect our future. Included are interviews with Apple Computer Chairman Steve Jobs and writer David Burnham.


Google Researcher Says She Was Fired Over Paper Highlighting Bias in A.I.

Timnit Gebru, a prominent a co-leader of the Ethical Artificial Intelligence team at Google sent an email to her colleagues voicing exasperation over the company’s response to efforts to increase minority hiring.

Gebru had been working on a research paper that she hoped to publish, but ran into resistance from her superiors at Google. And so she sent a letter expressing her frustration to the internal listserv Google Brain Women and Allies.

The paper, titled “On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big?” lays out the risks of large language models—AIs trained on staggering amounts of text data.

A few days later, Gebru was fired — Google reportedly found the email “inconsistent with the expectations of a Google manager.” It details the struggles Gebru experienced as a Black leader working on ethics research within the company, and presents a bleak view of the path forward for underrepresented minorities at the company.

The coming war on the hidden algorithms that trap people in poverty

A growing group of lawyers are uncovering, navigating, and fighting the automated systems that deny the poor housing, jobs, and basic services.

Credit scores have been used for decades to assess consumer creditworthiness, but their scope is far greater now that they are powered by algorithms: not only do they consider vastly more data, in both volume and type, but they increasingly affect whether you can buy a car, rent an apartment, or get a full-time job. Their comprehensive influence means that if your score is ruined, it can be nearly impossible to recover. Worse, the algorithms are owned by private companies that don’t divulge how they come to their decisions. Victims can be sent in a downward spiral that sometimes ends in homelessness or a return to their abuser.

Online exam monitoring can invade privacy and erode trust at universities

Bonnie Stewart on the testing and proctoring methods that invade privacy and erode trust end up undermining the very integrity that institutions demand students uphold.

As institutions of higher ed turn to online proctoring in the name of academic integrity the risks of exchanging the four walls of the classroom for surveillance platforms may be higher than many institutions bargained for.

As Stewart points out at the end of the piece, higher ed doesn’t need proctoring. Timed tests value what students remember.

Is memorization really a valid educational reason for risking privacy, well-being, and tight university budgets in a world where students will spend most of their lives with Google in their pockets?

Examining Screen Time, Screen Use Experiences, and Well-Being in Adults

This study examined the relationship between screentime and well-being in adults, including positive relationships, meaning, and loneliness. The study is possibly the first to investigate how much pleasure and meaning people feel during screen use and their mediating effects.

Screentime was not found to be significantly correlated with well-being; and screen use experiences did not mediate any of the screen time and well-being relationships.

However, screen use meaning was positively associated with overall well-being and positive relationships. This finding prompts a review of the importance of screen time for well-being, suggesting that this may be a limited approach. Other factors related to screen quality may be equal if not more important for well-being.

Teaching in the Pandemic: ‘This Is Not Sustainable’

Teacher burnout will erode instructional quality, stymie working parents and hinder the reopening of the economy.

“If we keep this up, you’re going to lose an entire generation of not only students but also teachers,” said Shea Martin, an education scholar and facilitator who works with public schools on issues of equity and justice.


Enhance Student Engagement with Virtual Social Learning Spaces

Caitlin Tucker with ideas and strategies for utilizing those shared spaces to create student-centered learning experiences.



If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.


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Digitally Literate #237

The Knapsack Problem
Digitally Lit #237 – 3/14/2020**

Hi all, welcome to issue #237 of Digitally Literate.

I posted and shared the following this week:

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Think Like A Coder – TED-Ed Playlist

Think Like a Coder is a 10-episode series that will challenge viewers with programming puzzles as the main characters— a girl and her robot companion— attempt to save a world that has been plunged into turmoil. In our digital age, coding has become a basic literacy skill which gives us a deeper understanding of the technology we use everyday.

Follow along with the lessons for episode one on the TED-Ed website.

I’m using this as a challenge with my kids as we’re remaining sequestered over the next week or so.


Times which Require Greater Care: Ethos in Online Learning

Communities across the globe are feeling the effects of the Coronavirus this week. In fact, if you’re sick and tired of reading about COVID-19, I don’t blame you. I’ll try and provide a balanced mixture of info about the global pandemic as I share the news of the week.

One of the most insightful pieces about planning for instruction as educational institutions move to online only offerings comes from Sean Michael Morris.

The post shares valuable insight on the ethos, or the what and why of online pedagogy, as opposed to just focusing on the how.

Plus, the post begins with this image. 🙂

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If you’re looking for resources on addressing engaging youth in these times, this resource from the NY Times will regularly update with projects. I also recommend this resource on making sure your learning materials are accessible for all. If you’re in higher ed, please help document your experiences.

Coronavirus will also cause a loneliness epidemic

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for “community mitigation strategies” to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, which include recommendations for “social distancing”—a term that epidemiologists are using to refer to a conscious effort to reduce close contact between people and hopefully stymie community transmission of the virus.

Ezra Klein indicates that this may prevent the pandemic from worsening, but it may also cause a “social recession” in which populations already vulnerable to isolation and loneliness may be at extreme risk.

In earlier issues of this newsletter, we’ve examined the possible negative impacts of digital, social spaces on human relationships and mental health. As I connect with others online, I’m encouraged by what I see, but also trying to identify ways to support the mental health of others…and stay connected.

What does a screen do?

As a member of the Screentime Research Group, I spend a lot of time thinking, talking, and writing about the challenges of living and learning in the age of screens.

This post in Slate by jane c. hu indicates that the research that examines screentime and behavior is difficult to design and difficult to execute, leaving us with fewer causal conclusions and more associative studies to rely on for decision-making and policy.

How the Mathematical Conundrum Called the ‘Knapsack Problem’ Is All Around Us

The knapsack problem is a fictional dilemma in which you are constrained to fill a fixed-size knapsack with your most valuable items.

This thought experiment is providing new opportunities for engaging in computing and processing tasks. It also gives us an opportunity to think about computational thinking and real-life problems.

Humans may have a problem with optimizing multiple, smaller problems as they are faced with “choice overload.” But, humans are also need to pay attention to everything, while also ignoring some data. We’ve learned how to store only the most pertinent stimuli in our mental knapsacks as we go through the day. Computers aren’t there…yet. 🙂

Build Trust in your team with SCARF

Google crunched the data on hundreds of high-performing teams, and found that one variable mattered more than any other: “emotional safety.” Also known as: “psychological security.” Also known as trust.

So how do you build trust and psychological safety in your team? Researcher David Rock has carefully studied the brain science of trust and engagement at work, and breaks it down into 5 key ingredients — summed up by the cozy acronym “SCARF:”

Status: A sense of importance and belonging.
Certainty: Clarity. An ability to predict what will happen.
Autonomy: Agency. A sense of freedom and control. Being treated like an adult.
Relationships: Connecting on a personal level. Feeling like we know each other.
Fairness: The rules are fairly applied. Things are fair and above-board.


Don’t blame tech for your distracted brain. Take control.

These three tactics will help you focus on the task at hand.

  • Reimagining the trigger as a sensation of curiosity
  • Reimagining the task itself
  • Avoiding self-limiting beliefs regarding your temperament



Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. If you don’t have any problems, you don’t get any seeds.

Norman Vincent Peale

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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. 🙂

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This is what disinformation looks like – Twitter Thread

This is what disinformation looks like – Twitter Thread (Twitter)

“This is what disinformation looks like. There’s many forms, many intermediate aims, but the long term goal is not to *use* the information environment, but to render it inoperable. Once accuracy bias and trust are eliminated there is only power. https://t.co/aUAbEotOLO”

The Lifespan of a Lie

The Lifespan of a Lie – Trust Issues – Medium by Ben Blum (Medium)

It was late in the evening of August 16th, 1971, and twenty-two-year-old Douglas Korpi, a slim, short-statured Berkeley graduate with a mop of pale, shaggy hair, was locked in a dark closet in the…

Ben Blum on the Stanford Prison Experiment in Medium. The famous psychology experiment was apparently a sham, and yet it continues to inform criminal justice policy, education and more.

It was a defining moment in what has become perhaps the best-known psychology study of all time. Whether you learned about Philip Zimbardo’s famous “Stanford Prison Experiment” in an introductory psych class or just absorbed it from the cultural ether, you’ve probably heard the basic story.


The SPE is often used to teach the lesson that our behavior is profoundly affected by the social roles and situations in which we find ourselves. But its deeper, more disturbing implication is that we all have a wellspring of potential sadism lurking within us, waiting to be tapped by circumstance. It has been invoked to explain the massacre at My Lai during the Vietnam War, the Armenian genocide, and the horrors of the Holocaust. And the ultimate symbol of the agony that man helplessly inflicts on his brother is Korpi’s famous breakdown, set off after only 36 hours by the cruelty of his peers.

There’s just one problem: Korpi’s breakdown was a sham.

Some of the takeaway:

The appeal of the Stanford prison experiment seems to go deeper than its scientific validity, perhaps because it tells us a story about ourselves that we desperately want to believe: that we, as individuals, cannot really be held accountable for the sometimes reprehensible things we do. As troubling as it might seem to accept Zimbardo’s fallen vision of human nature, it is also profoundly liberating. It means we’re off the hook. Our actions are determined by circumstance. Our fallibility is situational. Just as the Gospel promised to absolve us of our sins if we would only believe, the SPE offered a form of redemption tailor-made for a scientific era, and we embraced it.

The Cambridge Analytica – Facebook Debacle: A legal primer

This post from Andrew Keene Woods on the Lawfare blog is a great legal primer on the moving parts of the debacle. Woods indicates that this was not a  ‘breach’ of data, but it was a breach of trust.
Several key takeaways from this piece by Woods:

[Aleksandr] Kogan did not need to get Facebook data through the back door. He could waltz in through the front door — the door Facebook built for developers.

This was not a breach of Facebook’s network. But it was a breach of users’ trust, general expectations and perhaps also Facebook’s terms of service.

If you’re Kogan, or Cambridge Analytica, expect lawsuits, public hearings and general regulatory hell. Maybe, in the extreme, jail time. If you’re Facebook, expect lawsuits, public hearings, and general regulatory hell. Maybe, in the extreme, the end of the firm as we know it.