<span class='p-name'>Too Long; Didn’t Read #151</span>

Too Long; Didn’t Read #151

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Just keep moving forward
TL;DR #151 – 5/25/2018

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This week I posted the following:


To understand better tech, understand context (8:34)

This TED talk from Tania Douglas discusses the challenges of our current pursuits of tech.

What good is a sophisticated piece of medical equipment to people in Africa if it can’t handle the climate there? Biomedical engineer Tania Douglas shares stories of how we’re often blinded to real needs in our pursuit of technology – and how a deeper understanding of the context where it’s used can lead us to better solutions.


What is the GDPR Privacy Law and Why Should You Care?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new European Union law that takes effect today (5/25/2018), and it’s the reason you’ve been receiving non-stop emails and notices about privacy policy updates. It covers data protection and privacy for EU citizens, but it also applies to a lot of other countries in various ways, and since all the tech giants are huge multi-national corporations, it affects a lot of the stuff that you use on a daily basis.

It’s trying to solve the problems that exist as companies are collecting and abusing your personal info. Click through to the site to learn more about what is considered “personal data”, and what GDPR intends to do about this.

What’s going on in your child’s brain when you read them a story?

A newly published study gives some insight into what may be happening inside young children’s brains in each of those situations. And, says lead author Dr. John Hutton, there is an apparent “Goldilocks effect” — some kinds of storytelling may be “too cold” for children, while others are “too hot.” And, of course, some are “just right.”

27 children around age 4 went into an FMRI machine. They were presented with stories in three conditions: audio only; the illustrated pages of a storybook with an audio voiceover; and an animated cartoon. All three versions came from the Web site of Canadian author Robert Munsch. The audio-only was “too cold”, animated was “too hot”, and illustrated was “just right”.

The oxygen of amplification

This new report from Whitney Phillips offers an unprecedented look the paradox of reporting on the so-called “alt-right.” Doing so without amplifying that ideology is extremely difficult, if not downright impossible. The report comes out of the Data & Society research institute’s Media Manipulation Initiative, and draws on in-depth conversations with dozens of journalists to illustrate an uncomfortable truth: Journalists inadvertently helped catalyze the rapid rise of the alt-right, turning it into a story before it was necessarily newsworthy.

One of the most interesting things I pulled from the report discussed the need to not trust social media posts, or even a series of posts as a “person on the street.”

Instead, reporters should talk to sources for digital culture stories at length, ideally face-to-face, whenever possible. According to The New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo, this approach yields greater insight into the totality of that person’s perspective, since a person’s online performative self may not accurately reflect that person’s true perspectives and motives, and/ or may obscure details that would help shed light on the person’s digital footprint. If there is no time to conduct such interviews, Manjoo stated, reporters should at least reflect on the fact that the character(s) this person plays on the internet likely don’t tell the whole story.

What does it mean to look at this?

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We often see photos and/or video come in to our devices to connect us. At the same time, some of this content also awakens or perhaps shocks us to the conditions that others bear.

This piece in the NY Times Magazine unpacks the challenges of presenting this information, while not just making this an opportunity for people to be “customers or tourists of reality.”

Photography works and doesn’t work, it is tolerable and intolerable, it confounds and often exceeds our expectations.

How to engage in the comments: A journalist’s guide

As a blogger, I’ve often considered whether or not to allow comments on my sites. As an educator, I try to help my students (and their students) be more empathetic as they engage in discourse online. As a researcher, I study the ways in which individuals and groups discuss online either productively, or unproductively.

I think this guide provides meaningful guidance as you may be involved in some of the same lenses that I’ve indicated above. I also think this has value for my recent work and development with IndieWeb philosophies.

There are at least four good reasons for a journalist to engage in the comments on their articles.

  1. To improve the quality of the comments
  2. To create a loyal audience for your work
  3. To increase people’s trust in your work
  4. To find new story ideas, sources, connections

The guide also suggests three ways in which you (the author, mediator) should show up in the comments (respond, encourage, guide).

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‘;–have i been pwned?

We always hear about new hacks and data breaches from the services we use everyday. Even more of a concern (to me) is the hacks that happen with services that you no longer use.

This site, titled “Have I been pwned” searches the databases of known hacked sites and other materials to see if your data is out there. Take a minute to see if your info, usernames, and passwords are out where you don’t think they should be.

Pwn is leetspeak for the verb “own.” In online spaces, this means that you have been owned, conquered, or dominated.


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The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.

Philip Roth

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