Weaponized Critical Thinking

An article about Danah Boyd's SXSW EDU keynote, "What Hath We Wrought?," caught my eye for the use of the phrase "weaponized critical thinking." As someone who has taught critical thinking in many classes and as a course in itself, the idea of "weaponizing" the subject was frightening.

That fear is what Boyd talks about. It comes from a lack of media literacy, fake news, media manipulation and, unfortunately, the democratization of access to media. That access was thought to be a key benefit of "Web 2.0" when we would becomes producers rather than just consumers of web and media content.

I do believe that this led to some rational discourse and more viewpoints getting exposure, but Boyd and others would argue that there was too much democratization. The founding fathers warned of a democracy where mobs could rule. With all the options and possible sources of information, most people gravitate (a word that I think implies this invisible force) to things that align with our own existing positions.

In her talk, Boyd summarized her research into the ways in which social media can often turn the habits of critical thinking against itself. Frightening.

On a Clockwork Treasure Hunt

There is a Romantic (capital R) notion that I have had since childhood about discovering some kind of treasure. As a kid, I buried my own treasures, drew my own maps and then "discovered" them.

The treasure I'm writing about today is real. It was found off the coast of Greece, near the tiny island of Antikythera, where there was a shipwreck more than 2000 years ago. Around 65 B.C., Rome ruled the Mediterranean, but this was a Greek merchant going west across the Aegean Sea. It was a large ship for that time - 165 feet long - and it was loaded with luxury items, livestock and travelers who could only travel distances on merchant vessels. They found 36 marble statues of heroes, gods and horses, ceramics and personal belongings such as golden earrings, silver coins and jewelry.

The wreckage was discovered 117 years ago. The attention was first on life-size bronze and marble statues, but there was also a mysterious clockwork device.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens/Antikythera Mechanism Research Project/Kostas Xenikakis
I wrote about the Antikythera mechanism earlier here. Historians have been pondering what the interlocking gears did. The current theory is that it was used to track celestial movements - logical to have onboard a ship - and keep time.

It has been a long time since that ship went down, but beneath the ancient sands we are still detecting artifacts that remain trapped and protected in the sand.

But that clockwork was very sophisticated and the parts fit together with a great precision that was not to be seen again until clock manufacturing in 14th-century Europe were interlocking gears again used in a similar manner. It had front and back faceplates framed by a wooden case, about 60 gears, a circular dial with pointers tracking the movement of the sun, moon and five known planets across the sky during the calendar year.

The back plate had two large dials. One showed a Greek lunar month calendar while the other showed the biennial and quadrennial cycles of athletic competitions, including the Olympics. A crank on a side of the device turned the gears to set the front and back dials in motion.

Surprisingly, most scholars believe that the mechanism was not a marine navigation device, but possibly a device for education and amusement.

Blogging Buck$

People are making money from blogging. Not me, but others.

The Huffington Post is now the HuffPost and it really changed blogging. Launched in 2005, by Arianna Huffington has turned personal publishing an international "news" platform. Its Monthly income: $18 million, funded mainly through advertising revenue and investment, it was bought by AOL for $315 million in 2011, and today is worth an estimated $1 billion.

Okay, that's a big company, but how about a husband-wife team home finance blog. That is ClubThrifty with a monthly income of $25K.

The Gothamist takes in more than $100K a month as a News York City news and lifestyle blog that has expanded to eight cities across the US, Canada, UK, and China. And like any big blog, it was bought, in this case by news media company DNAinfo.

A pro blogger, Darren Rowse, has done a number of profitable, blogs. Then he did his most successful one by writing about the secrets of how to blog like a pro with ProBlogger. He didn't get bought out (yet) but makes bucks with advertising banners, a jobs page for online writers, and the sale of ebooks.

Here are the ways to make the money.

  • Display ads on a web page bring in the bulk of the ad money through networks like Google AdSense and Amazon.
  • Private Ads are those bought without a middleman
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) is when advertisers pay for the number of times an ad is clicked.
  • Sponsored Content is commonly when brands and vendors pay for a post, such as when a bloggers gets paid to “unbox” a new product or review a book.
  • Affiliate Marketing uses unique affiliate links that when someone clicks and makes a purchase, the blogger earns money as a referral commission. Want to test it out? Click on my my Amazon link and but something. Anything. Thank you.
  • A blogger can make some big bucks with more work by offering Digital Product Sales which is when they sell premium digital content such as courses, ebooks, and tutorials. One reason why digital content is very profitable is that it  requires no storage space or shipping costs.
So, get into blogging and do all the things I'm NOT doing and earn some bucks.