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Ian O'Byrne

Tenure Kryptonite

1 min read

You wanted the best, but they didn't make it. Live from an academic conference near you, we present Tenure Kryptonite.

We proudly present the first official tour t-shirt of the band as they strike out on their own. With work like this...we'll never get tenured.

These shirts are for the thoughtful, academic punk in your life.


You can purchase in mens or women's t-shirt styles through Teespring. Teespring is like a kickstarter for t-shirts. Once we meet our goal...they'll start printing shirts.

The shirts are heathered charcoal with neon green writing on the front and back. 

Please be sure to send back photos of you enjoying your t-shirt. We'll be sure to include it in your T & P file. :)

Ian O'Byrne

Is Yahoo really advising me to secure my account?!?!

1 min read

In issue #66 of the TL;DR Newsletter, I discussed the recent security breaches and lack of transparency coming out of Yahoo. First there was the report that millions of Yahoo accounts and passwords were stolen and the company did nothing to alert users. This week was the even more chilling Reuters report that suggests that Yahoo has been scanning user emails and communications. This information is being handed over to U.S. intelligence officials.

In the newsletter I discussed that I need to finally start using my own email server.

At this point, I mostly use Yahoo services for Flickr and fantasy football. While signing in this past weekend, I thought it was funny that Yahoo is asking me to update my info so I can secure my account. :)

I needed to get a screengrab to capture the moment.

Ian O'Byrne

If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear as it is, infinite. - William Blake

2 min read

One of the major stumbling blocks to changing perceptions and awareness of these "truths" that we've manufactured is that we do not want to recognize that we are wrong or mistaken. Furthermore, we do not want to admit to others (or ourselves) that these mistaken perceptions have distorted or modified our lives.

To counteract this, it is important to periodically challenge our beliefs and viewpoints. We need to problematize these perspectives and question their validity. We need to question their role and relevance in our lives.

In a normal state, our personality undergoes a constant process of reorganization. We routinely review, prioritize, and in some cases reject viewpoints and perspectives. In a misguided or neurotic state, the personality clings to beliefs that may be false or distorted. In these situations, a major crisis or event is required to force the individual to recognize alternative viewpoints and perspectives. 

If your mind and personality has been programmed or conditioned to accept and distort concepts and values, you develop a lifestyle and actions to support or justify your version of truth.You make assumptions that events are true or casual when neither is valid. You seek to prove these aspects to be correct, to make the facts fit your perspective. 

You need to identify a means to wipe these away and cleanse your perspectives.

Ian O'Byrne

The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival. - Aristotle

2 min read

In consideration of our present levels of awareness, we often have difficulty idenifying and becoming aware of these perspectives. Furthermore, it serves as an impediment and blocks us from making advancements in our own lives.

There are several reasons why we find this to be difficult.

  • What we picture or imagine about the world is based on our beliefs and perceptions about truth. This version of truth may be faulty or distorted, but our minds control our actions and reactions informed by this perception of truth.
  • It is easier to give reasons for not changing, or vouch for what it is not possible to change, as opposed to making the change. Making the change is harder than simply making excuses.
  • In our daily interactions and decisions, we seek out experiences that support our values systems and perceptions of truth. We ignore, reject, or forcibly avoid beliefs, perceptions, or behaviors that are inconsistent with our narratives of the world.
  • We have built and programmed our minds and bodily systems to respond on ways that react and reify to the truth and perspectives we've developed. We have conditioned ourselves to feel, act, and react to the narratives that we've established for ourselves.

Through conditioning of our mind and body, and as informed by sociocultural perspectives, we've created these narratives that we cannot break out of. Many of us cannot recognize or identify the narrative in the first place. For those of us that do recognize the narrative and try to problematize it, this process seems unhealthy and harmful to our very being.

Ian O'Byrne

We are what we think about all day long. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

2 min read

Our beliefs and narratives hld us back and in many ways imprison us from achieving what we'd like to accomplish during our lives.

From an early age we are indocritinated to this narrative about how we're supposed to act, about the value of hard work, and our role in society. We use this narrative as a form of belief system that includes conscious and unconscious information that impacts what we see as being "real." This narrative and belief system impacts our views about "truth" and perspectives on the world.

We filter our view of the world through these prisms and react to what may at times be misconceptions about the current milieu. Regardless of what the truth may be, we filter this truth, see what we want to see, and reject most everything else.

If we want to make a real change in our lives, we need to recognize these self and socially constructed narratives and question the root of our thinking. What are the narratives and belief systems that dictate our decisions? In what ways do these hold us back from living the way that we choose? How might we revise, or recreate these narratives to achieve self-actualization?

As we change what we see to what we want to see, we must start with changing ourselves. We need to question and understand our present state and reality. What is the current state in which we exist? What are our capabilities? 

Our present state is determined by education, environment, family connections, childhood experiences, successes, failures, and religious beliefs.

Within these contexts, everything that is happening to you in your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual present state is the result of what in going on in your mind. You can be what you want your mind frames it to be. 

What do you think about and bring into being?


Ian O'Byrne

Trust thyself, every heart vibrates to that iron string. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

2 min read

Bondage or liberty as we consider aspects of self-reliance in our daily interactions.

A self-confident personality is not possible until we build a solid foundation of self-reliance.

The main deterrent to self-reliance is the mistaken certainty that others are smarter, wiser or more intelligent than we are. This causes us to look to others for our happiness and welfare. The person who is dependent in this sense must always reach out to something external.

Self-reliance is not only the belief that you can handle things and become successful, it is something more than that. It is having the courage to listen to your inner prompting for a hint of the kind of success you truly desire. It means taking your cue from yourself – not listening to something or someone outside yourself to get an idea of what you should be, do or have. When we learn to read the “signs” correctly and follow our intuition we can begin to trust ourselves and not follow the beat of someone else’s drum.

The habit of leaning and depending is so ingrained in certain individuals that they abdicate all personal authority in favor of another person, philosophy or religion. They feel that they will be secure if they can find a person, organization or religion that that they can cling to with blind devotion. They allow this person, organization or religion to be responsible for their happiness. 

Ian O'Byrne

I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me. - Abe Lincoln

2 min read

Dehypnotizing ourselves.

Since our birth, we're hypnotized to some extent in believeing ideas that we believe to be true about ourselves. These ideas may come from parents, sibliings, friends, teachers, etc. We co-construct this narrative with others about ourselves using some of our own thinking and intution. An even larger portion of this comes from those outside forces that seem to forget how much influence they really have on us.

These forces are like a form of hypnosis as we believe what we want to believe, or see what we want to see about oursleves. The real truth is that in many ways, we're blieveing what others want to see in us.

When we see someone getting hypnotized, we sit in the theater and watch as the subject easily enters a tranclike state. We laugh and sit on the edge of our seats as we see the hypnotized person easily lift heavy objects, withstand pain or degradation, or easily accomplish things they would never in their right minds try to accomplish. 

Once you believe something is true, you act as if it were true. No matter what facts or opinions you recieve, you hold steadfast to your beliefs. 

In this same belief system, what could you do if you considered that you were not aware of the real potential or truth about yourself. What if you really were hypnotized all of this time by those around you that help you co-construct this narrative? 

Perhaps you're currently hypnotized by incorrect beliefes, concepts, and values that interfere with your true potential and identity.

When you finally wake up...what will you do?

Ian O'Byrne

Thinking about Bots and Frictionless Interactions

3 min read

In an earlier post I wrote a bit about bots and the potential future for education. This past week I listened to Ben Thompson push back a bit about the opportunities for bots, AI, and the user experience.

In light of this, I think there are ways that we should frame this look at "bots" and extend it a bit as we think about the possible future for education.

The name "bots" might be confusing to use as there are mulitple instances of "bots" already present online. An example of this include the fleet of bots that comprise most of the traffic on Twitter. 

Bots (in this instance) also may include varying levels of artificial intelligence (AI).

What is powerful about the thinking about bots in this instance include the following.

First, there is a tremendous amount of contextual information that exists with the bot. You'll need to sign up for, or agree to permissions with the bot. So, with these permissions, it has the potential to collect a ton of contextual information. It'll know who you are, payment info, location, peers, etc. 

Second, the structure provides opportunities for lightweight interactions with very little friction.

With this new environment, think of it as a platform built on top of another platform. Think about it as the inclusion of a web browser on top of Windows, Mac OS, LInux, or your operating system. As Ben mentions in the podcast, the perfect example is found in WeChat in other markets.

If you connect these elements together, an example is shown in the opportunity to purchase flowers.

If you want to order flowers, you need to go to the webpage, create an account, enter your credit card information, select where you're sending it, enter billing and shipping addresses, etc. 

If you do this in the bot, you'd indicate that you want to order flowers. The bot for that service would take over like that digital concierge idea I posited earlier. The bot would already have a bunch of this contextual information. It would have billing, your current location, friends, etc. It can tell you to go to a nearby shop and look at, or order the flowers. It can handle everything for you and send flowers to your mother. Since it has your information, and may have her address through your address book, it can handle this without you doing anything.


Ian O'Byrne

Thinking more about bots in education

2 min read

My line from this post:

Ultimately, this bot, and ones in the future could serve as an automatic teaching assistant that is always present and available.

Response from Katie Paciga:

So alt school uses the idea of customized playlists to help children engage in areas of interest for project based learning. To what extent do you think bots might automate some of that?

Interested to hear your thoughts.

My response:

Great question. :)

IMHO, I think that there is/should be a set of algorithms that are guiding the learner, and setting up content and curriculum that they might be interested in. Or, at least with “big data”, what students just like you might be interested in.

Of course this concerns me as you’re already limiting the scope of what the child might learn. I’d like to see a certain amount of randomness, or serendipity in the learning materials for the students. I’d also like to see opportunities where students can identify and develop their own (prescriptive or descriptive) learning pathways.

In terms of your original question, I think a bot might be able to fill specific needs. Hopefully a parent, teacher, or peer would be able to have dialogue with the child about the content and learning. In lieu of this interaction, perhaps a bot could carry on dialogue with the child.

Yes, this sounds super sci-fi and a bit impersonal, but it’s already happening. An example is with the Quartz news app. The news app acts like a messenger, or assistant with some slick AI embedded. The app/bot will share news or info that you might be interested in. It shares it in a conversational style or tone. As you carry on dialogue it will question you…and allow you to question the app.

I’d see this as a powerful opportunity to build up some smart AI in the form of a bot to support student inquiry. The app would start by asking the student what they want to learn that day. If she or he is stuck with a direction to head, the bot would suggest research they previously would be working on, or identify new fields to focus on.

Perhaps. ;)

Ian O'Byrne

Death ends a life, not a relationship. - Mitch Albom

2 min read

It is interesting to watch our considerations of death and the changes brought about by the influx of technology and social networks.

In an earlier post I wrote a bit about my own use of social networks and technology to understand how and when celebrities die. I've been struck by the loss of life of someone close to me.

My Wife worked in retail for a number of years. She managed a store and as a result became quite close to a number of the women that worked in her store, and served as assistant managers.

When we became pregnant with our first son, I was attending UConn for my doctoral work and she was working in a mall near the campus. I would often stop off at the store on the way home to visit and make sure she was fine. After our son was born, I would drive in to the store with him to see her...or pick him up there on the way home. 

She became close to one of her colleagues in particular. She would greet me and hug me whenever we saw each other. She became close to my Wife even after they stopped working together. Through the use of social networks, they routinely shared, commented, and liked content on each other's walls.

On one regular day, my Wife called me and informed me that the friend and former colleague had passed. It was totally unexpected and as a result we were unsure if it even occurred. 

Slowly in drips and drabs friends posted their condolences on her Facebook wall. This was followed by others that were learning and questioning about the details. Finally a family member somehow obtained access to her Facebook account and posted a short notice that she indeed had passed.

Over the coming days and weeks, her Facebook wall became a memorial and celebration of her life. To this day her Facebook wall is still active as loved ones routinely carry on dialogue with her after her passing. They share jokes, and music videos that she would have loved. The space provides room to reminisce and remember.