<span class='p-name'>Too Long; Didn’t Read #188</span>

Too Long; Didn’t Read #188

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Orchids and dandelions
TL;DR #188 – 3/9/2019

Hi all, welcome to TL;DR. My name is Ian O’Byrne. I research, teach, & write about technology in our lives. I try to synthesize what happened this week in tech…so you can be the expert as well.

I posted a couple of other things this week:


Momo challenge exposed (11:00)

Dear readers of this newsletter…I apologize that I did not pick up on the Momo challenge up until this point. It was not until some friends of mine in edtech indicated that fearful parents were inundating schools with calls from fearful parents asking what they should do about this supposed suicide game.

Before you keep exploring, please note that this is a viral urban legend that has been persistent online for a little over a year.

The UK Safer Internet Centre called the claims “fake news”. YouTube said it had seen no evidence of videos showing or promoting the Momo challenge on its platform.


Do you trust your VPN? Are you sure?

I’ve talked about virtual private networks (VPNs) a lot in the past in this newsletter. VPNs extend a private network by allowing you to send and receive data across a shared network as if you were directly connected to the private network. What this means is that you would connect to a third party, and then conduct your web navigation from there.

This piece from Will Oremus in Slate shares his exploration and research of some of the companies that exist in the VPN market. He basically suggests that most of these companies are a complete waste of money…and perhaps may be more a privacy risk than just searching openly online.

Read this post in TechDirt from Karl Bode for more on this important topic.

Big Win For Open Access, As University Of California Cancels All Elsevier Subscriptions, Worth $11 Million A Year

The move to open access resources, whereby anyone can read academic papers for free, is on a long, hard journey. However, the victories are starting to build up, and here’s another one that could have important wider ramifications for open access, especially in the US. The University of California system indicated this week that they are moving to an open access model. They did this in grand fashion by canceling all of their subscriptions to Elsevier.

The problems faced by the University of California (UC) are the usual ones. The publishing giant Elsevierwas willing to move to an open access model – but only if the University of California paid even more on top of what were already “rapidly escalating costs”. To its credit, the institution instead decided to walk, depriving Elsevier of around $11 million a year (pdf).

YouTube: Okay what if we suggest racist videos but add context?

Arimeta Diop in The Outline on an attempt by YouTube to curb the proliferation of false information on their platform. The online video giant has started rolling out a new feature that will fact-check user’s searches.

YouTube’s algorithm can take a user from a benign news report from a reputable source to content from anti-immigrant hate groups in just a few clicks through their “Up Next” recommendations. With the new feature, when a user searches a topic that has been at the center of controversy or “prone to misinformation,” an “information panel” debunking and offering accurate information from fact checkers will then appear, Buzzfeed reports.

There’s no such thing as a “tech person” in the age of AI

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Karen Hao in Technology Review on the need to stop perpetuating the false dichotomy between technology and the humanities.

In hindsight, this separation hasn’t served us so well. As Henry Kissinger wrote in the June 2018 issue of the Atlantic: “The Enlightenment started with essentially philosophical insights spread by a new technology. Our period is moving in the opposite direction. It has generated a potentially dominating technology in search of a guiding philosophy.”

That so-called dominating technology is artificial intelligence. Its sudden rise has already permeated every aspect of our lives, transforming our social, political, and economic systems. We no longer live in a society that reflects our old, manufactured separations. To catch up, we need to restructure the way we learn and work.

Is your child an orchid or a dandelion? Unlocking the science of sensitive kids

I’ve recently been researching a bit more about technology use in early childhood. As part of this, I’ve been intrigued by the framework developed by Thomas Boyce and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco. The group studies the human response to stress and examines this in the lives of children.

They suggest that most kids tend to be like dandelions, fairly resilient and able to cope with stress and adversity in their lives. But a minority of kids, those he calls “orchid children,” are more sensitive and biologically reactive to their circumstances, which makes it harder for them to deal with stressful situations.


Thomas Frank: How to stop being constantly overwhelmed

If you feel constantly overwhelmed – like you’ve always got too much to do and not enough time to do it in – then you’re in the same boat Frank has been in for several months. In this video he details the plan that he has been putting into action in order to strike a better work-life balance.

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The grass is greener where you water it.

Neil Barringham


TL;DR is a summary of all the great stuff from the Internet this week in technology, education, & literacy. Please subscribe to make sure this comes to your inbox each week. You can review archives of the newsletter here.

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