Listened Ep. 74 Damien Williams from shows.pippa.io
Technology philosopher Damien Williams on how the algorithms running society are embedded with the same biases as the people who program them.
Douglas Rushkoff and Damien Williams discuss the biases that we build into our technology through their design and the problems that this creates for machine learning. In some respects, this touches on the work of Cathy O’Neil.

Rushkoff also begins with a reflection on the use of social media by schools. He wonders why is it so easy for people to losesight of the design and purpose behind these platforms? He argues that other than teaching media, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc) should never be used by schools. Use blogs or a space you manage yourself and your story – something that I have touched upon in the past – but to feed the ad algorithms is the wrong approach.

Bookmarked The Anatomy of a Data Story by Nicole Hitner (datafloq.com)
It’s not the graph that makes the data interesting. Rather, it’s the story you build around it—the way you make it something your audience cares about, something that resonates with them—that’s what makes data interesting.
According to Ben Wellington, there are four features of a great data story:

Connect with people

If you don’t have a question to answer or artificial intelligence to point you to an interesting trend, you’ll likely have to do some data discovery and exploration to find a story worth telling.

Try to convey one idea

When designing your visuals, take clarity and conciseness over sizzle—but also consider what it is you want to emphasize … Anytime you can give your audience a more familiar point of reference, it can help drive an idea home.

Keep it simple

Once you have all your facts and figures, the first step in telling their story is considering your audience. After all, if your goal is to make the story resonate with the audience, you’ll need to consider its members’:

Explore a topic you know well.

When there are multiple campaigns designed to resolve the conflict and multiple ways of looking at each campaign, there can be a lot of data to review. In these cases, focus only on the visualizations that are essential to the narrative, or the story will dissolve into a humdrum boardroom presentation.


BONUS – Delivery

Consider your tone. Humor can utterly transform a story, but so can poignancy and earnestness. Giving the story some kind of tonal emphasis can give it the edge it needs to stand out from the rest.

via Tom Woodward

Bookmarked Inside Facebook's Two Years of Hell (WIRED)
When social media started becoming driven by images, he bought Instagram. When messaging took off, he bought WhatsApp. When Snapchat became a threat, he copied it. Now, with all his talk of “time well spent,” it seems as if he’s trying to co-opt Tristan Harris too.
Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein disentangle the last two years in Facebook’s rise, with a particular focus on the way that they have embraced news. As with Google+, the picture is painted as to how Facebook ‘copied, then crushed’ Twitter and their hold on distributing news:

Back in 2012, the most exciting social network for distributing news online wasn’t Facebook, it was Twitter. The latter’s 140-character posts accelerated the speed at which news could spread, allowing its influence in the news industry to grow much faster than Facebook’s. “Twitter was this massive, massive threat,” says a former Facebook executive heavily involved in the decision making at the time.

So Zuckerberg pursued a strategy he has often deployed against competitors he cannot buy: He copied, then crushed. He adjusted Facebook’s News Feed to fully incorporate news (despite its name, the feed was originally tilted toward personal news) and adjusted the product so that it showed author bylines and headlines. Then Facebook’s emissaries fanned out to talk with journalists and explain how to best reach readers through the platform.

The catch with this change is that it is merely a focus on being THE platform. This therefore meant overlooking the multitude of complexities associated with ‘news’:

Facebook hired few journalists and spent little time discussing the big questions that bedevil the media industry. What is fair? What is a fact? How do you signal the difference between news, analysis, satire, and opinion? Facebook has long seemed to think it has immunity from those debates because it is just a technology company—one that has built a “platform for all ideas.”

The problem with this stance, to “never favour one kind of news”, is that “neutrality is a choice in itself.” This choice is one that can then be cajoled and manipulated:

While Facebook grappled internally with what it was becoming—a company that dominated media but didn’t want to be a media company—Donald Trump’s presidential campaign staff faced no such confusion. To them Facebook’s use was obvious. Twitter was a tool for communicating directly with supporters and yelling at the media. Facebook was the way to run the most effective direct-­marketing political operation in history.

In response to Trump’s use, the purchasing of ads and criticism for people such as Tristan Harris, Zuckerberg set out this year to right the wrongs:

One of the many things Zuckerberg seemed not to grasp when he wrote his manifesto was that his platform had empowered an enemy far more sophisticated than Macedonian teenagers and assorted low-rent purveyors of bull.

Ironically, he has now turned to the community to work as curators.

Along with investigations into the links between Facebook funding and research, these posts help highlight the tangled mess that we have gotten ourselves into.

Listened This Week in the IndieWeb Audio Edition by Marty McGuire from martymcgui.re
This Week in the IndieWeb Audio Edition is a weekly audio summary of This Week in the IndieWeb,a digest of activities of the IndieWeb community.
Just as with the Domain of One’s Own, the #IndieWeb is as much a mindset, an approach to a more open and democratic web, as it is about the tools. Marty McGuire’s weekly take on the IndieWeb News is a great way to stay abreast of this evolving space. A regular mix of interviews, events, posts and wiki updates is a great place to capture ideas and be inspired. McGuire also provides captions to support the audio.
Bookmarked Education in the (Dis)Information Age - Hybrid Pedagogy by Kris Shaffer (Hybrid Pedagogy)
It's time we brought back the hyperlink and learned how to really use it. It’s time we used information abundance to our advantage. And it’s time we disentangled our communications from platforms tuned for the spread of disinformation. The health of our democracies just might depend on it.
Kris Shaffer reflects on the abundance of information on the web. He suggests that the hyperlink maybe ‘our most potent weapon’ against disinformation:

The oldest and simplest of internet technologies, the hyperlink and the “new” kind of text it affords — hypertext — is the foundational language of the internet, HyperText Markup Language (HTML). Hypertext connects all the disparate pieces of the web together. And it’s Sci-Fi name isn’t an accident. It’s hyperdrive for the internet, bending information space so that any user can travel galaxy-scale information distances with a small movement of a finger. The hyperlink still remains one of the most powerful elements of the web. In fact, I’d argue that the hyperlink is our most potent weapon in the fight against disinformation.

This potential though is being challenged by platforms that keep users trapped within. This is something that Chris Aldrich touched upon in a recent post about Facebook:

The note post type has long since fallen by the wayside and I rarely, if ever, come across people using it anymore in the wild despite the fact that it’s a richer experience than traditional status updates. I suspect the Facebook black box algorithm doesn’t encourage its use. I might posit that it’s not encouraged as unlike most Facebook functionality, hyperlinks in notes on desktop browsers physically take one out of the Facebook experience and into new windows!

A part of the focus on hyperlinks is an emphasis on organising around canonical links. As Doug Belshaw explains:

Unless it contains sensitive information, publish your work to a public URL that can be referenced by others. This allows ideas to build upon one another in a ‘slow hunch’ fashion. Likewise, with documents and other digital artefacts, publish and then share rather than deal with version control issues by sending the document itself.

Another approach is a federated system, such as Mike Caulfield’s Wikity theme.

Bookmarked Communities or networks? – Matthew Esterman – Medium by Matthew Esterman (Medium)
The most useful network or community is the one you can build with your immediate team and colleagues in your school. They’re in the context and in the ‘know’. They’re accountable with you and they know the support structures — especially if it’s them — and can act on them. If you don’t feel you’re getting that support, find a mentor outside the context and learn to build relationships within. We need to be an active participant in those networks we choose to belong.
Matt Esterman reflects on the place of associations. Beyond reviewing our assumed attendances to such communities, Esterman recommends forming local networks. I have tried this in the past. The challenge I found with ‘local’ is catching up and being proactive.
Liked The Toca Boca Story – The Startup – Medium by Danielle Newnham (Medium)
So, our research and strategy has helped a lot and has actually created a great environment for our staff because they bought into the business from the beginning. We have created a confined space in our business with very strict parameters. The business is digital toys; it’s not winning, no losing, no stress, no high scores, no rules. It’s open-ended, focusing on creativity; playful, fun experiences. You have to buy into all of these things before you start here. We do open-ended children’s apps that don’t have any rules, so you have to focus on the fun. If you start at the company and you know that, then it’s completely free because we don’t go to staff and tell them to make it a different color. As long as you buy into the initial constraints, it’s free. In fact, I have designers who say they have never worked somewhere where they have been given so much freedom, which is ironic considering that we have limited down the market so much. But it is very free for them as long as you buy into the idea — and I think that is a result of strategy. It also creates a good work environment because, quite frankly, if I think I could design better than the designer, then I have probably hired the wrong person. If I can’t bet on the designer to know best, then something is wrong.
Bookmarked Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read (The Atlantic)
To me, it doesn’t seem like narcissism to remember life’s seasons by the art that filled them—the spring of romance novels, the winter of true crime. But it’s true enough that if you consume culture in the hopes of building a mental library that can be referred to at any time, you’re likely to be disappointed. Books, shows, movies, and songs aren’t files we upload to our brains—they’re part of the tapestry of life, woven in with everything else. From a distance, it may become harder to see a single thread clearly, but it’s still in there.
Julie Beck discusses reading and suggests that unless we do something with it within 24-hours then it often disappears. Associated with this, she recommends reading more slowly if we are to take them in. This builds on Ryan Halliday’s point to do something with what you read. I am also left wondering about the connections with digital literacies to support this.
Bookmarked PISA-shock: how we are sold the idea our PISA rankings are shocking and the damage it is doing to schooling in Australia by Aspa Baroutsis (EduResearch Matters)
The PISA-shock type media coverage has huge policy effects. Governments make decisions that have lasting fallout on our education systems as a result of this coverage. However the deep inequities of performance based on socio-economic background that show up in detailed PISA results and the differences between the jurisdictional schooling systems is where the media should be shining the spotlight. This is where the real story of what is happening in school education in Australia can be uncovered. This is where policy makers should be searching for policy changing data.
Aspa Baroutsis and Bob Lingard provide a summary of their analysis of the PISA reporting in the media and the subsequent ‘shock’ that it induced. This provides a good starting point in understanding some of the challenges assocaited with PISA. For extended response, read Sam Sellar, Greg Thompson and David Rutkowski’s book, The Global Education Race, Taking the Measure of PISA and International Testing.
Replied LMS Dogma by Reverend (bavatuesdays)
E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops,” Brett Victor’s “The Future of Programming,” and Audrey Watter’s PLATO review. I liked the way the idea of dogma weaved its way through all three pieces, and it resonated with the students as well.
Jim, I love Victor’s presentation on programming, as much for the style as the message (can they be separated?) However, I was left rethinking it in light of Victor’s take on making makerspaces more ‘scientific’ seeing space. It had me thinking how sometimes we can trivially end up picking and choosing between ideas and thinkers. For example, I would love to know Watters’ take on Seeing Spaces.