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TL;DR Newsletter by Ian O’Byrne
Letter sent on Oct 10, 2016

Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR) newsletter #66

Welcome to issue 66 of the TL;DR Newsletter. In TL;DR I’m synthesizing what I read and learned this week in literacy, technology, and education. If this is your first time here…Dugo se nismo vidjeli.

This week we consider that I always feel like someone is watching me.

As I write this, I’m hunkered down with my family as we await Hurricane Matthew. The storm is currently in the middle of Florida and should be here late tonight. We’ll see how things progress. :)

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend that you subscribe to make sure you don’t miss out next week’s issue. You can review archives of the newsletter here. Alternatively you can also check out TL;DR on Medium.

This week I worked on the following:

A very different world (2:19)

This video is a joint production between HitRecord and the ACLU. HitRecord is a cool online community of content creators that work together to produce content. The ACLU is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all U.S. citizens.

The video is a commentary from a series of individuals, most notably Ben Wizner, Director of ACLU speech. The video discusses the future and challenges of our growing surveillance society.

Delete your Yahoo account

Two weeks ago, Yahoo (in the middle of their pending sale) made big news as it came to light that they had a massive security breach as millions of user passwords and account data was hacked in 2014. This by itself would not be a call to alarm. Security breaches can and will occur in our current times. What scares me is that they decided to do nothing, and not tell members that their materials were compromised.

This latest news from a Reuters report suggests that Yahoo has been secretly scanning users’ emails and handing these results over to U. S. intelligence officials.Yahoo responded with a non-denial denial. Microsoft, Twitter, Google, Facebook, and Apple all looked the other way and said (in my words), “we would never do that to you..”

I think news of this sort will continue to somehow, someway, continue to leak out. For me it comes down to two things. First, I’m deleting my Yahoo account. They don’t deserve my (or your) trust. Second, this points to the need to host my own email account and finally migrate away from my use of gMail for most communications. I’ll assume no sense of privacy or security in any/all communications in online spaces.

All that new Google hardware? It’s a trojan horse for AI

This week I watched with rapt attention as Google held a press conference announcing the new phones and devices that all connect your information to the search giant. The phones are very intriguing as I look for my next upgrade. Google also launched Google Home (an Amazon Echo competitor) as well as various wifi routers and a virtual reality competitor.

I’m really interested in Google Home and ordered one to test out in the home, and see what possibilities there are for the classroom.

Google’s spin on this was that all of these tools are pumping your information into their machine learning engines to better serve you and others. Understandably,many are concerned that Google is slurping up our data and playing fast and loose with user data. Given what I shared in the post up above about Yahoo, it might seem curious that I would be this interested in these products/services from Google. I’m definitely concerned and will keep an eye out as I explore. It’s a challenging, chilling, and nuanced space to study and challenge.

Blogfolios: The glue that can hold it all together in learning

Post from Silvia Tolisano examining digital portfolios and the opportunities to support students as they build their digital identity and their metacognitive skills.

Within this she focuses on literacy, heutagogy, documenting learning, reflection and metacognition, student (and teacher) led conferences, assessment, differentiation, project/inquiry/problem based learning, digital identity, and accessibility.

Why I threw away my rubrics

A great post by Jennifer Hurley looking at her use and recent rejection of rubrics to assess student work.

I’ve recently thought about the use of rubrics and what I lose as I assess student work. This is especially problematic as my students create websites and multimodal case studies for class assignments.

What resonated most for me:

It was only when I was on the receiving end of a rubric, while taking a graduate-level education class, that I had my first critical thought about rubrics. After looking at the rubric the professor had completed for me, I wondered, where is the human response in all of this? My professor had left me some comments, but these comments seemed only to be explaining why she rated my work as she did. This was in contrast to the feedback from my Russian literature professor at Stanford Extension. This professor provided no rubric but left comments that were funny and observant and showed that a thinking, caring person had engaged with my ideas.

A nonlinear history of time travel

I first came into contact with James Gleick years ago when I devoured his book The Information. Great read…and a definite recommendation if you’re interested in the intersection between technology, information, and communication.

This post from Nautilus is an overview of work from Gleick’s new book on Time Travel. The book mixes literature, science fiction, and technological advances. This looks like another great read.

Laugh lots, live longer

With all of this information about privacy and security challenges online, perhaps it’s time to make yourself just laugh. Who knows, it might help us all live a bit longer.

Women with a strong sense of humor were found to live longer in spite of illness, especially cardiovascular disease and infection. Mirthful men seem to be protected against infection.

Openness and participation are antidotes to surveillance and control.
- Howard Rheingold

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