Bookmarked Cambridge Analytica Part 2: The Lessons We Need To Learn About Social Media And Propaganda - New Matilda (New Matilda)
In the second of a two part series, Michael Brull looks at the scandal that is wiping billions of dollars in value off the world’s richest company… and it’s about much more than just social media and data mining. British news program on Channel 4 has exposed Cambridge Analytica and Facebook for what has becomeMore
Michael Brull looks at the scandal that is wiping billions of dollars in value off the world’s richest company… and it’s about much more than just social media and data mining. One of the things that stood out was how we even know what we know about Cambridge Analytica:

The reason we know about Cambridge Analytica is because of some British investigative reporters posing as Sri Lankans hoping to recruit them for a campaign. That is, our information about what other organisations like Cambridge Analytica do is fragmentary. We don’t know if the Clinton campaign acted similarly. We don’t know how they affected campaigning in Australia. We don’t know if they harvested data on Australians, or sold that data to Australian politicians, or their electoral campaigns.

The reality is, there is no way of truly knowing who is spending what when the information being generated is inserted into the bloodstream of the internet.

Replied to Issue #119 of the TL;DR Newsletter - rethinking the simple bare necessities. by Ian O'Byrne (mailchi.mp)
My concern is not Google, Facebook, and others that I give my data...my concern is the unseen/unknown companies that buy my data. Also, keep in mind that your biggest concern (in the U.S.) should be your Internet Service Provider (ISP). They're sucking up your data, watching your searching/browsing habits, connecting this to your billing info, and selling/giving this off to everyone.
This is such an interesting topic Ian. I too have touched upon it in my newsletter. I agree with your point that there are bigger, dirtier parties at play within this area, I am just concerned about excluding the FANGS from the discussion.

I also wonder what ‘informed consent’ looks like in the future? I think improvements to the Terms and Conditions is only the beginning. It has me returning to Doug Belshaw’s elements:


“The 8 Essential Elements of Digital Literacies #digilit” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

To be ‘informed’ surely is about having a deeper understanding of the way that technology and literacies work?

📰 Read Write Respond #027

Background image via JustLego101

My Month of March

At work we took another step with the reporting solution that we have been working on. This involved setting up two schools. There was a bit of a rush to have all the testing and documentation completed beforehand. However, the relative smoothness made it all worthwhile.

In regards to the family, our eldest daughter was playing a game on the iPad recently and I said that maybe one day she might code her own such game. She said she could, but she had already decided that she was going to be a performer. I feel challenged everyday by my role as a parent. Do I step in and suggest that maybe she does not sound as good as Sia as she belts out her rendition of Chandelier or do I just support her in dreaming big? At the moment, it is the later. Our youngest on the other hand must have found my copy of A More Beautiful Question as she has taken to asking the Five Whys about absolutely everything. I answer and answer again. My wife says that I will lose, but I don’t see it like that. It is about the conversation, right?

On a personal level, I find myself diving deeper into reflections these days, especially with my second blog providing a means of ongoing engagement. One of the side-effects has been my lack of engagement in spaces like Twitter. I still write extended responses when challenged, but I do not trawl through conversations or conference hashtags as much as I used to. I am left wondering what am I missing in my move more and more to RSS and curated feeds?

In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:


Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …

Learning and Teaching

Image via “Stormtroopers Training: Theory” by Pedro Vezini is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
Quote via Kath Murdoch ‘‘12 ‘Lesson Hacks’ to Nurture Inquiry’’

12 ‘Lesson Hacks’ to Nurture Inquiry – Kath Murdoch provides a number of simple changes to consider in every classroom. They include letting students try first before providing instruction, turning learning intentions into questions, co-constructing success criterias, standing up rather than sitting down and changING your position in the classroom. Steve Mouldey also shared some thoughts on supporting learners with being more engaged and active within the learning, while Jon Corippo and Marlena Hebern shared ideas for how to create dynamic learning environments on the Ask the Tech Coach Podcast.

Inquiry classrooms (and inquiry teachers) are constructed day by day, session by session. Being conscious of the choreography of our teaching and the degree to which it amplifies or diminishes inquiry is a powerful way to build culture over time. These ‘hacks’ are simple but by making one change, we can gain insights to which we have been previously blind.

The Library of the Future – Deborah Netolicky reflects on her recent investigation into libraries. This include the history of libraries, as well as how they and those who work within them are defined. Her review of the literature found that libraries are: neutral and democratising; participatory and connected locally and globally; centred around learning, literacy, research, and knowledge; and, facilitators of interdisciplinarity. I have written about the future of libraries before, however Netolicky’s deep dive takes it a step further.

School libraries have been called instructional media centres, media centres, information centres, information commons, iCentres, learning labs, learning commons, digital libraries, and cybraries (Farmer, 2017). These terms are in some ways faddish and transitory. ‘Library’, however, has a deep and long tradition associated with it, although the spaces and tools of libraries change over time. Librarians in schools have also had many names, such as teacher librarian, library teacher, library media specialist, library media teacher, cybrarian, information navigator, information specialist, information professional, informationist, and information scientist (Farmer, 2017; Lankes, 2011). Lankes (2011) argues that the terms ‘library’ and ‘librarian’ are entwined with the concept of knowledge and learning. I have said before that those claiming disruption should embrace interrogation of their ideas. Does ‘library’ need to be disrupted, in what ways, and why (or why not)?

My Learning – It has been fascinating following Greg Miller’s thinking in regards to the construct of learning. There are many assumptions that go unquestioned in schools, I am finding that as I discuss reporting with more people. This move towards self-directed learning reminds me of the work going on at Geelong College and Templestowe College. My wonder is how we manage to marry these changes with various expectations, such as timetables.

As students progress through Years 8, 9 & 10 in the coming years, there will increasingly be more and more time for students to self direct their Personalised Curriculum. This may include, but is not limited to: Acceleration of core curriculum subjects leading to early commencement of HSC in one or two subjects. If required, intervention strategies for those students who do not meet minimum national benchmark standards for literacy and numeracy. Early commencement of VET (Vocational and Educational Training) subjects either at school or through TAFE. Participation in Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), completion of digital badge courses or informal internships with local industry experts and ‘start ups’. Self-directed electives and collaborative projects as a result of students working with teachers with the following provocation: Knowing my Strengths, Motivations and Interests (SIM), how can I use my identified talents and affirmed capabilities to ensure a better world?

How to Write an Edu-book – Alex Quigley discusses his six steps to writing a book. In addition to the reflections from Mary Myatt, Tom Sherrington and Ryan Holiday, they offer a useful insight into the writing process. It is interesting to compare these with the process often taught in schools. Students often get straight into writing without being given initial planning time.

I wanted to share my own edu-bookery. It is important to state that for me, regular blogging and writing separate to a book is an excellent mental work-bench for writing a book, offering me the discipline needed to write habitually and at length. Still, my book writing process is really quite specific and I have fell upon a helpful habit in writing my latest book.

Assessing Assessment for Digital Making – Oliver Quinlan discusses the challenges associated with Black and Wiliam’s work on feedback and digital technologies. In the absence of defined criteria, he suggests using comparative judgement where feedback is gained by comparing with a similar object.

Comparative Judgement is a field relatively new to education practice that offers huge potential for this problem. It’s based on well established research that humans are relatively poor at making objective judgements about individual objects, but very good at making comparisons. Play a musical note to most people and ask them what it is and they will struggle. Play them two notes and ask them which is higher and they are likely to be successful. Repeat this several times, with a clever algorithm to keep track and present them with the right combinations and you can come up with a ranking. These rankings have been shown to be very reliable, even more so if you involve several people as ‘judges’.

Edtech

A comment made in the Q & A after boyd's keynote
Image via “Lego on Facebook” by amarois is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
Quote via danah boyd

You Think You Want Media Literacy… Do You? – danah boyd discusses concerns about the weaponising of media literacy through denalism and says that there is a need for cognitive strengthening. Benjamin Doxtdator raises the concern that focusing on the individual. Instead he suggests considering the technical infrastructure. Maha Bali argues that we need aspects of both. In a response to the various criticisms, boyd admits that she is not completely sold on the solution, but we need to start somewhere.

One of the things that is funny is that these technologies get designed for a very particular idea of what they could be used for and then they twist in different ways.

Typing Tips: The How and Why of Teaching Students Keyboarding Skills – Kathleen Morris reflects on the place of typing in schools. She collects together a number of sites used to teach typing. It feels like we spend so much time debating handwriting sometimes that we forget about typing. Airelle Pardes suggests that the lack of a keyboard (and therefore typing) is one of the major reasons for the demise of the iPad in education. The discussion of typing also reminds me of a post from Catherine Gatt from a few years ago associated with assessing typing.

There are so many great games and online tools designed for younger students. Once students begin recognising the alphabet, I think they can begin learning to type. This can complement your teaching of traditional writing and literacy.

On the Need for Phone Free Classrooms – Pernille Ripp shares why her class will become phone free. A part of this problem is that the compulsive behaviour of social media and smart phones is by design. Douglas Rushkoff’s argues that other than teaching media, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc) should never be used by schools. Mike Niehoff’s concern is what happens in the future when people have not learnt independance and moderation?

I know that I have pushed the use of phones in our classrooms before on this blog, how I have written about using them purposefully, but I will no longer subscribe to the notion that when kids use their phones it is only because they are bored. It is too easy to say that if teachers just created relevant and engaging lessons then no child would use their phones improperly in our rooms. That’s not it, all of us with devices have had our attention spans rewired to constantly seek stimulus. To instantly seek something other than what we are doing. To constantly seek something different even if what we are doing is actually interesting. And not because what we seek out is so much better, look at most people’s Snapchat streaks and you will see irrelevant images of tables and floors and half faces simply to keep a streak alive. It is not that our students are leaving our teaching behind at all times because they are bored, it is more because many of us, adults and children alike, have lost the ability to focus on anything for a longer period of time.

PressED – A WordPress and Education, Pedagogy and Research Conference on Twitter – This online conference involves 45 presenters across 12 hours posting 10 to 20 tweets each at a scheduled time. Although many have also shared posts corresponding with their presentations (Alan Levine, Tom Woodward, Jim Groom and John Johnston), you can also go back through the tweets. One of the things that stands out is the use of the different addordances, such as graphics and GIFs.

I’ve been to conferences that used a hashtag, but this is my first conference that is a hashtag (Jim Groom)

Dear IndieWeb, it may be time to start considering the user, not just the technical spec – Eli Mellen wonders if the answer to extending the #IndieWeb is in considering the user. I think that this is part of the challenge. Mark Pospesel discusses about reducing friction, while Cory Doctorow suggests that we need to reconsider which technologies we use. Whatever the particulars, it will take a collective response to move the #IndieWeb from the hipster-web to a “demonstratably better web

Whereas “[e]ach generation is expected to lower barriers for adoption successively for the next generation” I wonder if it is maybe time to update some of the tooling from generation 1 and 2 to be more compatible with generations 3 and 4?

Why the PDF Is Secretly the World’s Most Important File Format – Along with David Brock’s investigation into Powerpoint, this article is important in reminding us of two things, that things have not always been the way that they are and the way we got to now. Maybe we should demand better? Or maybe we need to spend more time reflecting on the past.

The story of the invention of the PDF may not have a legal battle at the center of it or a hook like a Suzanne Vega song to push its story forward, but it does have this scandal. And love it or hate it, Manafort’s awkward use of a tool used by basically everyone really highlights how prevalent the PDF really is.

Storytelling and Reflection

Image via “Happy Little Trees” by nolnet is licensed under CC BY-NC
Quote via Austin Kleon ‘How to Keep Going’ https://collect.readwriterespond.com/austin-kleon-bond-2018/

How to Keep Going – Austin Kleon reflects on the life of an artist and outlines ten things to consider in order to keep on going. Some of his suggestions include treating everyday like Groundhog day, building a bliss station and going for a walk to scar of the demons. Some other tips for staying focused include Jenny Mackness’ reflection that the last step does not matter, Jeff Haden’s suggestions that planning for a holiday is more beneficial than the holiday or Seth Godin’s reminder that the goal is change, not credit.

Maybe I’m a weirdo, but I actually feel better when I accept the fact that there’s a good chance it’s not going to get easier. Then I can focus on this question: “How to keep going?” Whether you’ve burned out, just starting out, starting over, or even if you’ve had success beyond your wildest dreams, that question always remains: “How do you keep going?”

Excellent teachers in an age of fads – Mark Esner suggests that many teachers will often make anything work to a degree. What is really needed is time for teachers to study how students learn, as well as time to reflect on their processes together. John Spencer describes this as a food truck mindset. Some similar approaches designed to support teachers with structures, rather than solutions, include Modern Learning Canvas, Agile Leadership and Disciplined Collaboration.

Many things that get labelled as “fads” might work for an individual teacher (although many things might work better) but they only become fads when divorced from their original meaning and then are spread around and are imposed on other teachers. Teachers, being brilliant, are able to make these things work as best they can, or at least to minimise harm, but they still have an opportunity cost. Worst still they add to our workload and drive teachers out of teaching.

Metrics, Thy Name is Vanity – Harold Jarche reflects on turning Google Analytics off. He instead suggests that the metric that matters (for him) is how many books he sells and how many people sign up to his courses. He gives the example of a course that had hundreds of likes and reposts, yet only one person actually registered. This has me thinking about which metric matters to me and the way in which I engage with others. Maybe Doug Belshaw is right in creating a committed group of supporters?

About a year ago I deleted Google Analytics from this website. I no longer know where visitors come from, what they find interesting, or what they click on. This has liberated my thinking and I believe has made my writing a bit better. I always wrote for myself but I would regularly peak at my statistics. Was my viewership going up? What did people read? How did they get there? What search terms were people using? — Who cares? There are a lot of numbers that ‘social media experts’ will tell you to maximize. But there are few that make any difference.

TER #109 – How large-scale tests affect school management with Marten Koomen – 04 March 2018 – In this interview, Marten Koomen addresses the question of how Victoria went from a state that was a leader in content knowledge and democratic values to the launch of a content-free platform driven by the terror of performativity? (My attempt at notes here.) This continues a conversation started last year. For me, this touches on Audrey Watter’s point about technology as a system.

We are all part collectivist, individualists neoliberals and skeptics, so to identify in one corner is disingenuous.

The male glance: how we fail to take women’s stories seriously – podcast – Lili Loofbourow rewrites the wrong that has male art is epic, universal, and profoundly meaningful, while Women’s creations as domestic, emotional and trivial. This critique has ramifications far beyond fiction.

Consider this a rational corrective to centuries of dismissive shrugs, then: look for the gorilla. Do what we already automatically do with male art: assume there is something worthy and interesting hiding there. If you find it, admire it. And outline it, so that others will see it too. Once you point it out, we’ll never miss it again. And we will be better for seeing as obvious and inevitable something that previously – absent the instructions – we simply couldn’t perceive.

FOCUS ON … Cambridge Analytica

A quote from Paul Ford on the toxic data spill
Image via “CIMG5200” by Phil LaCombe is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
Quote via Paul Ford https://collect.readwriterespond.com/how-to-fix-facebooks-data-breach/

This month saw the revelation of the ways in which Cambridge Analytica used and abused data scraped from Facebook to nudge voters in the 2016 election. It remains to be seen whether this is the start of a new era. In part this reminds me of the changes in the way people saw things after Snowden. Thinking about Doug Belshaw’s web timeline, maybe this will mark a new era of informed consent. Here then is a collection of responses to the current crisis.

Background

Responses

Alternative Solutions


READ WRITE RESPOND #027

So that is March for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe? Otherwise, archives can be found here.

Read Write Respond Newsletter

Cover image via JustLego101.

Liked Cambridge Analytica: the data analytics industry is already in full swing by David Beer (The Conversation)
If we want a full and comprehensive debate about the role of data in our lives, we need to first appreciate that the analysis and use of our data is not restricted to the types of figures that we have been reading about in these recent stories – it is deeply embedded in the structures in which we live.
Liked Persuasion, Adaptation, and the Arms Race for Your Attention by Cory Doctorow (Locus Online)
There is a war for your attention, and like all adversarial scenarios, the sides develop new countermeasures and then new tactics to overcome those countermeasures. The predator carves the prey, the prey carves the preda­tor. To get a sense of just how far the state of the art has advanced since Farmville, fire up Universal Paperclips, the free browser game from game designer Frank Lantz, which challenges you to balance resource acquisi­tion, timing, and resource allocation to create paperclips, progressing by purchasing upgraded paperclip-production and paperclip-marketing tools, until, eventually, you produce a sentient AI that turns the entire universe into paperclips, exterminating all life.
Listened Digital dystopia: democracy in the internet age – podcast by Jordan Erica Webber from the Guardian
Jordan Erica Webber looks at how our data is being used to push political ideologies
Jordan Erica Webber takes a look at democracy in the digital age, an era in which social media platforms have enabled a new form of political advertising and data companies can provide those who wish to sway elections and referendums with the ability to micro-target individual voters’ private Facebook feeds. Whether this is right or wrong, is everyone forced down this path? I am reminded again of Weapons of Math Destruction