Bookmarked Fraidycat

Fraidycat is a browser extension for Firefox or Chrome. (Just those right now – it’s brand-new, quite experimental.) I use it to follow people (hundreds) on whatever platform they choose – Twitter, a blog, YouTube, even on a public TiddlyWiki.

Along with other applications like Granary, Aperture and Indigenous, Fraidycat offers a different way of consuming the web. I just wonder about the possibility of adding OPML files, rather than links one at a time.
Bookmarked Open Ed, Digital Pedagogy Lab & the Challenge of Education Conferences (Sean Michael Morris)

Sometime before her joint keynote with Chris Gilliard at Digital Pedagogy Lab 2017, Maha Bali wrote to me that, if I wanted to invite marginalized people to take the spotlight, I had to be prepared to let them change the very nature of that spotlight. The stage, the spotlight, the keynote itself, are symbols or approaches to teaching, instruction, performance, leadership that are grounded in a white supremicist, patriarchal, capitalist academic model that doesn’t just eschew the work of education done in non-white, indigenous, queer, and other communities, it is blind to them. The keynote both presumes the hegemony of the expert, and reinforces it. Asking someone who doesn’t benefit from white supremicist, patriarchal, capitalist academe to benefit from exactly that, under the auspices of generosity and representation, is just another way of centering whiteness.

In a reflection on the sudden closure of the Open Ed Conference, Sean Michael Morris explores the place and purpose of the educational conference.

I see educational conferences like Digital Pedagogy Lab (and others: HASTAC, #RealCollege, etc.) as moments in time, gathering spaces for educators and students who, on the daily, are too overwhelmed with their work, their research, the balance of teaching, learning, and personal life, their concerns for the future of education, their ongoing and sometimes relentlessly necessary inquiry into educational technology, justice and equity, that they are unable to stay in touch with the community which, while diverse in its activity and approaches, supports them. For a time, Twitter provided some reprieve and support—on hashtags like #digped and #educolor—but that platform is now too perilous for too many. So, conferences, events, gatherings, these are the places where educators can sit down, take a meal, learn together, connect, re-connect, begin or continue collaborations, and more.

He focuses particularly on aspects such as keynotes and how they perpetuate power and patriarchy. Although we may enourage different voices, unless we also allow for different practices we risk creating another means of ‘centering whiteness’. In closing, he offers some questions to consider in critically examining the notion of the educational conference:

David Wiley is right. We need to critically examine all of our assumptions about conferences. How they are run. Who leads them. What kind of learning should happen there? Why are they convened? What is the gathering meant to accomplish? What is the pedagogy for conferences now, in a landscape where keynotes should be something more than talking heads, where organizers who are white and male need to cede not just the stage but the design of events to make way for new ways of knowing, teaching, and learning? Where expertise does not win the day, but a willingness to ask does?

This all has me rethinking conferences and whether my spark talk from DigiCon16 in which I used voices to define the village simply reinstated my own power and position?

Bookmarked Opinion | Why Google’s Quantum Supremacy Milestone Matters (nytimes.com)

The company says its quantum computer can complete a calculation much faster than a supercomputer. What does that mean?

With Google’s annoucement that they had achieved “quantum supremacy”, Scott Aaronson tries to explain why this is so significant. Mikhail Dyakonov still believed there are too many variables:

To my mind, quantum-computing researchers should still heed an admonition that IBM physicist Rolf Landauer made decades ago when the field heated up for the first time. He urged proponents of quantum computing to include in their publications a disclaimer along these lines: “This scheme, like all other schemes for quantum computation, relies on speculative technology, does not in its current form take into account all possible sources of noise, unreliability and manufacturing error, and probably will not work.”

I must admit that my head still spins trying to make sense of the field. I still therefore think Jim Mortleman and Stuart Houghton have done the best job at trying to explain it.

Bookmarked Blade Runner’s vision of tech in November 2019 (BBC News)

The cult classic was set in today’s world, but how many futuristic predictions did it get right?

With the arrival of November 2019, the year the movie Blade Runner is set, Szu Ping Chan reflects upon the many predictions. Such provocations are always useful to stop and consider the world we are making. I am also reminded of Cory Doctorow’s notion of ‘techno realism‘, where the particulars maybe wrong, but the shape of the future is right.
Bookmarked I Accidentally Uncovered a Nationwide Scam on Airbnb (Vice)

How easy is it to exploit Airbnb? While searching for my grifter, I found out.

Allie Conti documents the way in which scammers work around Airbnb’s terms and conditions to scam vulnerable tourists with false listings by seemingly fake accounts. It says a lot about supposed ratings and digital trust systems. Airbnb has responsed with a promise to verify all listings.
Bookmarked The J Files (abc.net.au)

The J Files brings together artists and fans to share and explore the stories behind the music you love.Subscribe to The J Files podcast on iTunes or RSS

I remember growing up with Richard Kingsmill and The J Files. It was an essential aspect to my education in music. I particularly loved hearing songs from artists that I knew, but had never had the opportunity to hear before. These days such serendipity has been countered by streaming and the ability to find things easily. I therefore have started following The J Files podcast as I really like how they compile interviews and insights about artists drawn from the extensive ABC archives.
Bookmarked Psychodata (code acts in education)

Overall, what I’ve tried to show in the article is that SEL is a policy field in-the-making and that it remains inchoate and in some ways incoherent. We can understand it as a policy infrastructure that is being assembled from highly diverse elements, and that is centrally focused on the production of ‘psychodata’. In fact, the potential of a SEL policy infrastructure depends to a great extent on the creation of the data infrastructure required to produce policy-relevant knowledge. In other words, the generation of psycho-economic calculations is at the very core of current international policy interest in social-emotional learning, which is already relaying into classroom practices globally, governing teachers’ practices, and shaping the priorities of education systems to be focused on the enumeration of student emotions.

Ben Williamson disassembles the growing world of social and emotional learning in an article published in Journal of Education Policy. In it he makes six points:

  1. SEL needs to be understood as the product of a ‘psycho-economic’ fusion of psychological and economics expertise
  2. There are sets of moving relations among think tanks, philanthropies and campaigning coalitions which have been central to establishing SEL as an emerging policy field
  3. SEL is a site of considerable movement of money
  4. A huge industry of SEL products, consultancy and technologies has emerged, which has allowed SEL practices to proliferate through schools
  5. SELs enactment is contingent on local, regional and national priorities
  6. The OECD overtly brings together psychology and economics with their new test positioned as a way of calculating the contribution of social-emotional skills to ‘human capital

This has me rethinking the book Counting what Counts and my reflections:

It feels like the real question in need of answering isn’t what needs to be counted, but why? Although it might be useful to measure how interested we may be or our global awareness, what seems more important is what purpose does this actually achieve. In an age when counting seems to be a given and we only care about what we can count, the book it at least offers a vision about what we can measure.

Bookmarked NPR Music
In the search for different suggestions in regards to music, I have started following all things NPR Music:

Although I have followed bits and pieces over the years, I have decided to actually add the feeds to my list.

I have particular been enjoying All Songs Considered’s dive into the 2010s.

Bookmarked Is Amazon Unstoppable? (The New Yorker)

Politicians want to rein in the retail giant. But Jeff Bezos, the master of cutthroat capitalism, is ready to fight back.

Charles Duhigg takes a deep dive into the world of Amazon. Central to all of this is the notion of the flywheel and the relentless push for growth and development. An important aspect to this is sticking to your ideas:

Bezos explained, “If you have a really good idea, stick to it, but be flexible on how you get there. Be stubborn on your vision but flexible on the details.” Executives at other companies tended to lay out definitive plans. But Bezos urged his people to be adaptable. “People who are right a lot change their mind,” he once said. “They have the same data set that they had at the beginning, but they wake up, and they re-analyze things all the time, and they come to a new conclusion, and then they change their mind.”

This is something that reminds me of Angus Hervey’s call to ‘Hold on tightly and let go lightly’.

In addition to this, there is a ‘Day One Thinking’ when it comes to leadership:

A willingness to treat every morning as if it were the first day of business, to constantly reëxamine even the most closely held beliefs. “Day Two is stasis,” Bezos wrote, in a 2017 letter to shareholders. “Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day One.”

An example of such relentless mentality is where the failure of the Fire Phone is pivoted to the success of the Echo voice activated devices.

On the flipside of all this is the reality of working within it, especially as a warehouse worker or a delivery driver. As well as the problem of ‘process’ with the many of the challenges that come with this:

Amazon is the shopping mall now, and, normally, if you open a store in a shopping mall, you can expect certain things—like the mall operator will clean the hallways, and they’ll make sure Foot Locker isn’t right next door to Payless, and if someone sets up a kiosk in front of your store and starts selling fake Air Jordans, they’ll kick them off the property.” He continued, “But Amazon is the Wild West. There’s hardly any rules, except everyone has to pay Amazon a percentage, and you have to swallow what they give you and you can’t complain.”

One criticism is that the company is able to track which products are successful and is then produces copies sold under the Amazon Prime brand. They also fail to properly regulate manufacturers selling forgeries.

This seems to be all coming to head, with many questioning the current anti-trust laws. For Duhigg, this is similar to rise of General Motors in the 1930’s and the challenges that they also faced. However, the company is pushing back.

Interestingly, although the piece mentions Amazon Web Services, there is little mention of ICE or home surveillance. However, it offers a great starting point for considering the place of Amazon in our lives today.

Bookmarked Unraveling the Secret Origins of an AmazonBasics Battery (Medium)

The battery becomes less trackable the further it progresses down the chain. This is overwhelmingly due to U.S. shipping rules that allow companies to move product virtually in secret. And as Amazon expands into all modes of transport — cars, trucks, air and ocean freight — its logistics will likely become even more invisible.

Sarah Emerson reflects on her experience with the AmazonBasics Battery. In the process she follows the thread back to a Fujitsu factory in Indonesia. Although there are is not concrete data in regards to the environmental impact, she makes an effort to put the pieces of the puzzle back together. For example, she discusses a paper co-authored by Jay Turner and Leah Nugent, in which they argued that:

It takes more than 100 times the energy to manufacture an alkaline battery than is available during its use phase.” And when the entirety of a battery’s emissions are added up — including sourcing, production, and shipping — its greenhouse gas emissions are 30 times that of the average coal-fired power plant, per watt-hour.

Other than the problem that companies are not required to log such informed, Emerson also highlights that the impact is often only focued on the disposal of the item.

Bookmarked Want to make a podcast? Here are five things we learnt at OzPod 2019 (ABC News)

It seems that 2019 will be the year we say podcasting truly arrived.

The ABC hosted the fourth annual podcasting conference Ozpod recently and the hot topics locally reflected the energy in the global podcasting space.

Here are five things we learnt at Ozpod 2019:

Kellie Riordan highlights five takeaways from OzPod 2019:

  1. Podcast listening continues to grow in Australia
  2. Fictional podcasts and scripted dramas are the new black
  3. The more the merrier, says Pocket Casts CEO
  4. Smart speakers and voice technology will change podcast consumption
  5. True crime still dominates
Bookmarked Rethinking Encryption (Lawfare)

We all need to deal with reality. And in my experience, that’s what the people who have dedicated their lives to protecting all of us—such as the employees of the FBI—usually do best. How else do you stop the bad guys but by living in reality and aggressively taking the fight to them based on an accurate assessment of the facts? I am most certainly not advocating surrender, but public safety officials need to take a different approach to encryption as a way to more effectively thwart our adversaries, protect the American people and uphold the Constitution in light of the existential cybersecurity threat that society faces. If law enforcement doesn’t want to embrace encryption as I have suggested here, then it needs to find other ways to protect the nation from existential cyber threats because, so far, it has failed to do so effectively.

Jim Baker takes a deep dive into the world or security, encryption and zero-trust networks. He touches on the current confusion over the law, that the government can request access, but there is nothing to say that such access should not be encrypted:

Put differently, the legal problem for law enforcement is not the Fourth Amendment. Investigators and prosecutors can and do obtain warrants to authorize searches, seizures and surveillance of encrypted digital evidence. The problem is that there is no law that clearly empowers governmental actors to obtain court orders to compel third parties (such as equipment manufacturers and service providers) to configure their systems to allow the government to obtain the plain text (i.e., decrypted) contents of, for example, an Android or iPhone or messages sent via iMessage or WhatsApp. In other words, under current law, the most the government can do with respect to encrypted systems where the manufacturer or service provider does not hold the encryption keys is to demand that companies provide it with an encrypted blob for which they have no mechanism to decrypt.

One suggested workaround is better use of metadata to support crime enforcement:

If, in fact, governments more aggressively support encryption, they will have to focus even more on collecting and analyzing noncontent metadata, increasingly aided by advanced data analytics driven by machine learning and other artificial intelligence tools. I know full well that obtaining noncontent metadata, while useful, is not the same as collecting the full content of communications and documents. It is hard to use metadata, for example, to prove criminal intent or to understand exactly what a spy or a terrorist is plotting. But we are in a world where content is increasingly unavailable and there is a wealth of metadata. So, the government should focus on collecting the right data and developing or buying top-notch analytical tools. In doing so, of course, it needs to make sure that such metadata collection and analysis is consistent with the Fourth Amendment. Admittedly, that will be more complicated in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Carpenter v. United States. And it will be harder to do all this in the face of efforts by some companies to further anonymize public internet metadata. Nevertheless, this is where law enforcement finds itself since it has not persuaded Congress to act.

However, what this all highlights is that every country has a different set of rules, therefore this is a debate that needs to be had in a number of places.

Bookmarked Education before Regulation: Empowering Students to Question Their Data Privacy

We must work not only toward providing better security around student data but also toward educating students about the need to critically evaluate how their data is used and how to participate in shaping data privacy practices and policies. These policies and practices will affect them for the rest of their lives, as individuals with personal data and also as leaders with power over the personal data of others. Regulation is necessary, but education is the foundation that enables society to recognize when its members’ changing needs require a corresponding evolution in its regulations. And for those of us in academia, unlike those in industry, education is our work.

Autumm Caines and Erin Glass discuss data privacy and the importance of educating students about the topic. To support this, the two authors provide a number of resources and references, including the Ethical EdTech wiki and a collaboratively created course statement.  This is also something Sonia Livingstone, Mariya Stoilova and Rishita Nandagiri discuss.
Bookmarked After Babel: Designing for Community (Sean Michael Morris)

Access, inclusion, design all have to fall together in favor of community, of dialogue, with content being no more than the field upon which those play. So, a design for community might include:

  • Interstitial, unfacilitated learning
  • Agency, meta-cognition, and self-determination
  • Building skills
  • Mentorship
In a keynote address for the Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium at Metropolitan State University, Sean Michael Morris unpacks the challenges associated with learning in online communities. This has me thinking of David White’s discussion of coalescent spaces and the idea of a personal social media space.
Bookmarked Why you should worry if you have a Chinese smartphone | Technology | The Guardian

China’s use of technology for social control of its citizens is extensive – but it could affect users elsewhere too, says security analyst Samantha Hoffman

In an interview with Ian Tucker, Samantha Hoffman suggests that we need to be careful about the the idea that we don’t have anything to worry about when it comes to data:

I would be. You may think “I’m not researching the CCP or testifying in Congress, so I don’t have anything to worry about”. But you don’t really know how that data is being collected and potentially used to shape your opinion and shape your decisions, among other things. Even understanding advertising and consumer preferences can feed into propaganda. Taken together, that can be used to influence an election or feelings about a particular issue.

This comes back to Edward Snowden’s assertion that:

Ultimately, saying that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different from saying you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say.

Bookmarked Digital Portfolios . . . Making the Learning Visible (Teaching and Learning With Heart)

As promised, here is my second post about Making Learning Visible and Digital Portfolios . . . Forgive me for any technical problems, or the lack of digital craftsmanship; I am still learning.

Kelli Vogstad share how here school uses Freshgrade to support pedagogical documentation. She shares the four types of documentation that she uses:

  • Two of the Same
  • Showing the Knowing
  • Celebrating the Learning
  • Communicating the How and Whys

Although Vogstad focuses on Freshgrade, I think that much of this could be completed using a range of applications and platforms. It is also a great example of ongoing reporting.

Bookmarked Social Media Has Not Destroyed a Generation   (Scientific American)
  • Anxiety about the effects of social media on young people has risen to such an extreme that giving children smartphones is sometimes equated to handing them a gram of cocaine. The reality is much less alarming.
  • A close look at social media use shows that most young texters and Instagrammers are fine. Heavy use can lead to problems, but many early studies and news headlines have overstated dangers and omitted context.
  • Researchers are now examining these diverging viewpoints, looking for nuance and developing better methods for measuring whether social media and related technologies have any meaningful impact on mental health.
Lydia Denworth discusses the anxiety around the use of social media by children. Exploring the past, this is a trend that stems from Socrates. One of the aspects feeding this is that the science and research is still in its infancy and therefore lacks context and nuance:

Nearly all assess only frequency and duration of use rather than content or context. “We’re asking the wrong questions,” Hancock says. And results are regularly overstated—sometimes by the scientists, often by the media. “Social media research is the perfect storm showing us where all the problems are with our scientific methodology,” Orben says. “This challenges us as scientists to think about how we measure things and what sort of effect size we think is important.”

Although people like Jean Twenge might be right about the impact of social media on health, correlation does not always equal conclusion:

No one disagrees about the importance of young people’s health, but they do think that Twenge has gotten ahead of the science. “Why wait for causal evidence?” says Dennis-Tiwary. Because the story might not be so straightforward.

For example, in an analysis of 24 longitudinal studies, it was found that framing the discussion around addiction often makes negative findings more likely.

“It’s ironic that in the end the real danger is not smartphones—it’s the level of misinformation that’s being directed at the public and at parents,” Odgers says. “It’s consuming so much of the airtime that it’s causing us to miss potentially some of the real threats and problems around digital spaces.” For her part, Odgers is far more worried about privacy and unequal access to technology for kids from families with lower socioeconomic status. She also suspects that some adolescents find much needed social support online and that adults should pay closer attention to what works in that regard.

Responding to this situation, two researchers, Amy Orben and Andrew K. Przybylski, produced a series of papers designed to ‘tackle some of the pitfalls’:

Denworth explains that although some of these reports provide more nuance through their methodology, there is still more needed in understanding social media and screentime. This all captures danah boyd’s message that the relationship between technology and teens is complicated. Also, for more research and advice on screentime, Ian O’Byrne and Kristen Turner have created the site The Screentime Age.

Bookmarked How memes got weaponized: A short history (MIT Technology Review)

Memes like this often use a process called “trading up the chain,” pioneered by media entrepreneur Ryan Holiday, who describes the method in his book Trust Me, I’m Lying. Campaigns begin with posts in blogs or other news outlets with low standards. If all goes well, somebody notable will inadvertently spread the disinformation by tweet, which then leads to coverage in bigger and more reputable outlets. #DraftMyWife was outed fairly early on as a hoax and got debunked in the Washington Post, the Guardian, and elsewhere. The problem is, taking the trouble to correct disinformation campaigns like these can satisfy the goal of spreading the meme as far as possible—a process called amplification.

Joan Donovan unpacks the history associated with memes. She touches on their place within culture, the authorless nature of them and the potential to disrupt politics. Elsewhere, Dale Beran discusses memes in regards to 4Chan, while danah boyd talks about the challenges inadvertently learning the wrong thing through viral content. Doug Belshaw also discusses memes in his book The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies and his TED Talk.