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Posts Tagged ‘easy

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At the 1min 26sec mark of his video, John Green declared: What is easy to measure is not always what is important.

What is easy to measure is not always what is important. -- John Green

He said this as he reflected on his and his brother’s success in YouTube. That is, if you measure success by large YouTube subscriptions.

But Green pointed out that numbers weren’t everything. He realised that even as numbers grew, it “decreased the sense of community and connectedness”. How so? As he read and analysed his YouTube comments, he discovered more division and unpleasantness.

I would apply the quote to most forms of current assessment. Such tests are the low-hanging fruit of schooling — they are used to sort young people and provide a perception of quality control.

Most forms of current assessment, particularly the summative form, only measure cognitive outcomes. Furthermore, a test is largely a measure how well students are able to take tests, not actually apply knowledge meaningfully.

Most current forms of assessment avoid difficult but important measures like character or the ability to communicate convincingly. If there is an axiom that has stood the test of time, it is this: Anything worth doing is difficult. These are important in the long run, but we foolishly take shortcuts because they are easy.

It is easy for me to ignore messages on Facebook, WhatsApp, and even email.

I have not posted on Facebook for years. I refuse to feed it data for its questionable algorithms. I use Facebook like a passport — for the rare occasion I need to prove my identity.

My byline in WhatsApp is “I’m not deaf, I’m ignoring you” and I share a link to what I think is WhatsApp-tiquette. I leave groups or mute individuals that are noisy or pointless.

My WhatsApp byline.

Both Facebook and WhatsApp are full of navel gazing and misinformation even if I know the people there. These platforms become too porous when those same people share information without filters or critical thought.

Then there is email which is essential for work. On that I set strict filtering rules. One particularly effective strategy is filtering out email with too many recipients in the TO or CC header.

If this means I miss a few messages, then so be it. If there are that many people on a single email, it was probably not important or directed at me. It is also the best way to avoid spam.

It is not just easy to ignore messages on Facebook, WhatsApp, and email. I find it to be essential. Just as we self-quarantine to keep our bodies safe from the current pandemic, I ignore noise, misinformation, and disinformation during the concurrent “infodemic”.

Twitter is just now experimenting with 280-character tweets instead of 140-character ones. Stephen Colbert saw the humour in doing this and tweeted:

The Twitterati will have more room to express itself. But this also gives hate groups and hateful individuals room to do disproportionately more damage.

The increase is also not sustainable. When 280 characters is not enough, is Twitter going to increase the quota again? It might cite its research on the numbers game and say no. But does it have research on the hate and vitriol that some individuals or groups receive regularly?

When these individuals or groups report these incidents, they are largely ignored or swept under the carpet. What data does it have on how often this happens?

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When Twitter defended Trump’s veiled tweeted threat to destroy North Korea, what data did it use to call the tweet newsworthy? It probably played the numbers game (views, favourites, retweets) instead of considering what was ethical.

It is easier to increase the tweet character limit and to cite tweet counts. These implementations are lines of code and a superficial analysis away. It is more difficult to do what is right.

Doing what is right means drawing a line on the ground and not crossing it. What is right or wrong may change with time and context, but the need to keep drawing those lines does not. People need to know where you stand.


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