Welcome to TL;DR #132 (January 12th, 2018)
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Too Long; Didn't Read (TL;DR) newsletter #132

Welcome to Issue #132. You were so preoccupied with whether or not you didn't think if you should.

This week was relatively busy as classes started up and I have been putting the finishing touches on a research publication. I want to thank many of you that reached out with feedback on the discussion models I shared over the last two weeks.

This week I posted the following:

If you haven't already, please subscribe to make sure this comes to your inbox each week. You can review archives of the newsletter here or on Medium.

Say hey with a note at or on the socials at wiobyrne. 


Blockchain Expert Explains One Concept in 5 Levels of Difficulty | WIRED

Blockchain expert explains one concept in 5 levels of difficulty (17:49)

This video from Wired focuses on explaining blockchain at five levels of difficulty. Specifically, Bettina Warburg from Animal Ventures is tasked with explaining blockchain technologies to 5 different people; a child, a teen, a college student, a grad student, and an expert. 

I'm super geeked out about blockchain and derivative technologies and have written a bunch about it in the past. I recommend watching it to learn a bit more about the opportunities for the future. 

I also like the idea of this video and hope that Wired, or some other channel continues with this style of content. I'm also thinking about how cool this would be as a classroom assessment.


Congress renews warrantless surveillance - and makes it even worse

In 2013, Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency was legally collecting millions of Americans’ phone calls and electronic communications—including emails, Facebook messages, and browsing histories—without a warrant. I shared this two weeks ago, but Congress has now decided not only to reauthorize these programs, but also to expand some of their most invasive techniques.

The EFF suggests that this reauthorization fails to protect Americans from unconstitutional NSA surveillance. This fact sheet from the ACLU details how these changes threaten American's privacy.

I also think it is important to note that many of my friends and colleagues...and many readers of TL;DR are international. Sadly they are not even considered in the slurping up of data across these connections. In addition, my connections with them...and the fact that I used the term "Snowden" in this newsletter...may put them, me, and you all on a list. 

"Media Men" list creator outs herself, fearing she would be named

Months after a short-lived, crowd-sourced list of “Shitty Media Men” made headlines and sowed controversy, the creator, Moira Donegan, has outed herself. In a powerful essay for New York magazine, Donegan explained the impetus behind the list, how it expanded and spread far beyond what she anticipated - and just how nervous that made her.

In the final product, more than 70 men were named. Some of them were associated with beloved and prestigious outlets: the Paris Review, the New Republic, the New Yorker, the New York Times. The spreadsheet was intended for private consumption, but it rapidly became public. Hours after the list was created, BuzzFeed posted an article about it; after Donegan deleted the whole thing, copies floated across the internet.

Earlier this week, news emerged that professional provocateur Katie Roiphe was working on an article on the list for the March issue of Harper’s Magazine, and that in this article she might be planning to name the creator of the list. It was apparently to head off Roiphe’s article that Donegan decided to step forward at last.

This raises questions about how we'll use the Internet and these social spaces to push back against systems, as we've been seeing in the #MeToo movement. If this response by Donegan was imperfect...then what is a better alternative?

Facebook finally blinks

As we've been discussing for month in TL;DR, research suggests that a majority of individuals get their news from Facebook. I've also been quite critical of the role of Facebook and other social networks in the recent social and democratic challenges we've seen over the past year. 

According to an announcement from Facebook, they're messing with their algorithms, overhauling your feeds, and in a sense "breaking" the system.  

Specifically, they suggest that they will use signals like how many people react to, comment on, or share posts to determine how highly those stories will appear in your feed. This means that they should prioritize posts from family and friends over public content. 

We'll keep a close eye on this.

Why are our most important teachers paid the least?

This piece from Jeneen Interlandi in The New York Times Magazine is a hard hitting look at the pay and treatment of preschool teachers in the U.S. Specifically, Interlandi spends most of the piece focusing on a preschool in Springfield, Massachusetts. My teacher education program was held in Springfield, I spent my first several years teaching in Springfield, and I currently still own a home there. Given my field, and the focus of this hit hard.

Consider that many have posited that your most important educational years are spent in Pre-K up through third grade. If teaching preschoolers is every bit as important and complicated as teaching K12 and beyond...why do we treat (and pay) preschool teachers as if they were babysitters?  

Why do cartoon villains speak in foreign accents?

A really interesting meta-analysis of research from Isabel Fattal in The Atlantic examining the use of non-standard dialects to voice the "bad guys" in movies. Fattal asks the question about what message does this send to our children about diversity? In what ways are we subtly indoctrinating them into ways of thinking about those that are different than everyone else?

Fattal closes:

So what are parents to do with the knowledge that many kids’ TV shows and movies are brimming with cultural biases? Dobrow points to intentional, collaborative TV-watching. “What’s really important is to be able to make your children into media-literate viewers,” she said. “If a parent or sibling or caregiver is there with a child watching television or a film, this ... can make anything into an educational experience.”


You, too, can live like royalty and delete all of your social media accounts

I've talked quite a bit about my use of Nuzzel to keep up to date on what's happening on my social networks. Nuzzel sends me notifications if more than 10 of the people in my social network all share or respond to a certain story.

One of those notifications this week was about this story about Meghan Markle killing off her personal Instagram and Twitter accounts before her planned wedding to Prince Harry later this year.

At first I was, what's the big deal. And then I was thinking a bit more deeply about the role of these networks in the ways in which we socialize and communicate. And then...I was just thinking...


I'm hearing a lot of should. I need to start hearing more could.

- Verena Roberts

Too Long; Didn't Read (TL;DR) #132

Thanks again for reading. Please feel free to share with others you believe would benefit. If you like what you see here, subscribe to get it hand-delivered to your inbox. 

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W. Ian O'Byrne · 1261 Discovery Drive · Ladson, SC 29456 · USA

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