Bookmarked The #1 reason Facebook won’t ever change (Om Malik)
Facebook is about making money by keeping us addicted to Facebook. It always has been — and that’s why all of our angst and headlines are not going to change a damn thing.
Om Malik explains why Facebook will not be changing, it is not in its DNA. This is epitomised by the spamming of two-factor authentication users and the skimming of VPN data only adds to this. As Malik explains:

The DNA represents a company’s ethos — and to a large extent, its ethics. Microsoft was and will always be a desktop software company, albeit one that is doing its best to adapt to the cloud and data-centric world. It has turned its desktop offerings into smart revenue streams on the cloud.

Google’s core DNA is search and engineering, though some would say engineering that is driven by the economics of search, which makes it hard for the company to see the world through any other lens. Apple’s lens is that of product, design, and experience. This allows it to make great phones and to put emphasis on privacy, but makes it hard for them to build data-informed services.

Facebook’s DNA is that of a social platform addicted to growth and engagement. At its very core, every policy, every decision, every strategy is based on growth (at any cost) and engagement (at any cost). More growth and more engagement means more data — which means the company can make more advertising dollars, which gives it a nosebleed valuation on the stock market, which in turn allows it to remain competitive and stay ahead of its rivals.

Even with the personal adjustments to the feed in response to issues with fake news and manipulation, this is akin to the spin by the tobacco industry in the 70’s to hide the effect of smoking.

Bookmarked The tools matter and the tools don’t matter (austinkleon.com)
You have to find the right tools to help your voice sing.
Austin Kleon reflects on the pride and place of the tool for the artist. Although he suggests that it does not necessarily matter, he also argues that we need to find the right tool that helps us sing. So often we talk about transformation or redefinition, but how often do we consider that the tool for each student ‘sing’ maybe different?
Bookmarked The Problem With Facts (Tim Harford)
Curiosity is the seed from which sensible democratic decisions can grow. It seems to be one of the only cures for politically motivated reasoning but it’s also, into the bargain, the cure for a society where most people just don’t pay attention to the news because they find it boring or confusing.
Tim Harford explains that the solution for fake news is not simply facts, rather we need to foster an attitude of curiousity. For as he demonstrates through a number of examples, even when armed with the supposed truth, we cannot escape the engaging influence of the lie:

Facts, it seems, are toothless. Trying to refute a bold, memorable lie with a fiddly set of facts can often serve to reinforce the myth. Important truths are often stale and dull, and it is easy to manufacture new, more engaging claims.

This comes back to a point that Barthes’ made in regards to mythologies and advertising. The strength lies in the power of first impressions, to manipulate individual preconceptions of a sign. It does not matter than after the initial contact a more rational meaning be found, a myths power to distort still remains and does not diminish. For

Myth is imperfectible and unquestionable, time or knowledge will not make it better or worse.

🎧 On Foreign Aid (Future Tense)

Eleven Chinese warships reportedly sailed into the East Indian Ocean this month, amid a constitutional crisis and state of emergency in the Maldives. In part, this is claimed to be in connection with aid.

As Future Tense captured in the first of a two part series, China is an emerging player when it comes to overseas aid. The problem with this is that much of it is not actually ‘aid’ money. As Brad Park explains:

China actually provides a lot of state financing that is more commercially oriented and is provided market terms or close to market terms. And so much of the money in fact that is going to Russia is not aid in the strict sense of the term, they are loans offered on close to market rates, and China is offering those loans in part because it’s one of the world’s largest net creditors, it’s sitting on very large reserves, it wants to earn an attractive financial return on its capital, and so it has an aggressive overseas lending programs. So China wants those loans to be repaid with interest.

This is also a part of China’s growing international expansion.

In part two, Samantha Custer, Abhijit Banerjee and Stephen Howes discuss the sustainable development goals developed by the United Nations. These provides the policy and guidance for how aid should be spent.

Along with Alexandra Samuel’s work and Doug Belshaw’s reflection. this webinar featuring Anya Kamenetz poses a number of considerations in regards to parenting in a digital age.

Move No. 1: “Here are some scary things that can happen with too much screen time — obesity sleep issues…behavioral issues, issues around the kid’s relationship to the media that they’re using … If you’re seeing any of that, then whatever you’re doing, you should do less,” she said.

Move No. 2: “You do need a system for what the rules are going to be that is clear and communicated to your kid. And, you can do it based on time, but you can also do it based on occasion, and/or priority. … Cut back if you need to cut back, make a system, and then, think about shifting toward the positive. What is it that our kids love about the time they’re spending online. How can you build on that? How can you stretch it toward other interesting uses? So that’s the enjoy part. I think it’s fairly simple. It’s a formula for making decisions. It’s a rubric. It’s not a rule,” Kamenetz added.

Replied to WordPress Timeline JS Plugin by Tom Woodward (bionicteaching.com)
Writing blogs posts is nice because it documents things and makes me notice all sorts of things I missed in the heat of trying to get a working plugin but it also sucks because it takes me forever to write the post. These asides are also the reason I have 223 draft posts on my site.
I am loving all your work at the moment Tom around visualisations. I am going to spin this plugin up and see how I go. In regards to ‘events’, how does this relate to the idea of.h-events? Is it the same?
Replied to Google My Maps Tips and Tricks by Tom Mullaney (Sustainable Teaching)
Google My Maps is a great tool for teachers and learners. Teachers can use it as an interactive platform to present lesson materials. Learners can use Google My Maps to document what they have learned.
This is a good overview of Google Maps Tom. I note your issue with sharing ‘a copy’ of a map. I wonder if this relates in part to the fact that MyMaps is not a part of the core Education offering? One workaround that I have used in the past is have teachers provide a copy of a KMZ and then get students to load this. Although it involves a few more steps, it at least gets there in the end.

📓 Demagoguery

Reflecting on the state of democracy, Branko Milanovic looks back at the work of those like Max Weber and the concept of demagoguery:

These old-school writers were also very astute about the political science of demagoguery, which Weber defined as manipulation of the electorate through proffering of unrealistic promises. He thought the rise of demagogues was specific to Western political culture; it was a potentially dangerous side effect of democracy. Demagoguery appeared, according to Weber, first in the Mediterranean city-states and then spread to Western parliamentary systems through the role of party leaders.source

Wikipedia defines a demagogue as:

A leader in a democracy who gains popularity by exploiting prejudice and ignorance among the common people, whipping up the passions of the crowd and shutting down reasoned deliberation Demagogues overturn established customs of political conduct, or promise or threaten to do so.source

Bookmarked Seven things teachers agree on about teaching reading in Australia. Stop all the political haranguing over phonics by By Robyn Ewing (EduResearch Matters)
I am continually asked: why are we are once again adopting UK policies and accepting as ‘evidence’ the Rose Report from the UK? This report recommended that synthetic phonics be the preferred method for teaching early reading in the UK, but the ‘evidence’ quoted in the report has been widely disputed, including in the UK, by highly respected literacy education experts. The way the report has since been used politically is of ongoing concern. This was the impetus for the Sydney School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney to hold a symposium on The role of phonics in learning to be literate last week in Sydney in conjunction with The Australian Literacy Educators Association.
Robyn Ewing reflects on a recent symposium looking at Phonics. She shares a series of agreements from the event:

  • Learning to be literate is crucial for children’s life chances.

  • Socioeconomic status has a big impact on how well children read

  • Learning to be literate is a highly complex contextualised social practice – not a series of hierarchical skills

  • Learning to read is about making meaning. There are no easy, one size fits all recipes.

  • Rich literature, real texts should play an important role in any literacy program

  • Phonics and other code-based literacy practices are widespread in early years learning contexts in Australia. Where is the evidence that teachers aren’t using these strategies?

  • Another test is highly problematic and will disadvantage our EALD (English as an additional language or dialect) learners as well as many in vulnerable situations