Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States
more on maps in this IMS blog
Please have a collection of stories regrading the recent events in Chemnitz, Germany.
The articles from different outlets allow to study not only the event and the controversy immigrants / nativism, but also the phenomenon “fake news” in the post-truth era.
Far right and Germany
Digital Text is Changing How Kids Read—Just Not in the Way That You Think
According to San Jose State University researcher Ziming Lu, this is typical “screen-based reading behavior,” with more time spent browsing, scanning and skimming than in-depth reading. As reading experiences move online, experts have been exploring how reading from a screen may be changing our brains. Reading expert Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid, has voiced concerns that digital reading will negatively affect the brain’s ability to read deeply for sophisticated understanding, something that Nicholas Carr also explored in his book, The Shallows. Teachers are trying to steer students toward digital reading strategies that practice deep reading, and nine out of ten parents say that having their children read paper books is important to them.
Cognitive scientist Daniel T. Willingham said that digital devices aren’t changing the way kids read in terms of actual cognitive processes—putting together letters to make words, and words to make sentences. In fact, Willingham is quick to point out that in terms of “raw words,” kids are reading more now than they were a decade ago (thanks mostly to text messaging). But he does believe, as he writes in his book, The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads, that kids’ reading habits are changing. And it’s reasonable to guess that digital technology, in all its three-second-video and Snapchat glory, is changing those habits.
For many parents and teachers worried that spending so much time with video games and Snapchats will shred kids’ attention spans—the average 8-12-year-old spends about six hours a day in front of a screen, and teenagers spend more than nine — Willingham thinks they may be concerned about the wrong thing. He isn’t convinced that spending so many hours playing Super Smash Bros will shorten kids’ attention spans, making them unable to sustain the attention to read a book. He’s more concerned that Super Smash Bros has trained kids’ brains to crave experiences that are more like fast-paced video games.
instead to help kids distinguish between the easy pleasures of some digital media, and the more complex payoff that comes when reaching the end of the Harry Potter series. He recommends telling kids that you want them to experience both, part of a larger strategy to make reading a family value.
“It’s watermelon or chocolate for dessert.
According to Julie Coiro, a reading researcher at the University of Rhode Island, moving from digital to paper and back again is only a piece of the attention puzzle: the larger and more pressing issue is how reading online is taxing kids’ attention.
Each time a student reads online content, Coiro said, they are faced with almost limitless input and decisions, including images, video and multiple hyperlinks that lead to even more information.
How Churchill broke the Greek Resistance
How Winston Churchill and the British government attacked the Greek Resistance and sowed the seeds of civil war.
in December 1944: Nazi troops were still resisting the Allies, which were making slow progress in Italy and being pushed back in the Ardennes faced with the Wehrmacht’s final counter-offensive. Yet the “bands” here targeted by Churchill were not groups of collaborators, but the partisans of the great National Liberation Front
(EAM), which had for three years mounted mass resistance against the German occupiers.
Throughout the nineteenth century, the eastern Mediterranean had been the center of a rivalry between Britain and Russia. The Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 having put an end to the latter country’s ambitions in the region, in the early 1940s, Greece was under unchallenged British influence. In this context, the country was of some strategic importance.
during the Quadrant Conference
with Roosevelt in Quebec (August 17-24, 1943), Churchill saw his last hopes of an Allied landing in Greece vanish. Meanwhile, the Red Army’s advance beyond the USSR’s own frontiers was no longer in doubt. Churchill now took matters directly in hand, despite his advisers’ reticence, blocking off any possibility of negotiation and sending the EAM delegates home. At the same time, in a note to his high command, he drafted what would later become the MANNA plan: namely, to send an expeditionary corps to Greece after the German troops’ withdrawal.
The EAM-ELAS nonetheless succeeded in liberating a large part of the country. It established popular institutions which formed a counter-state. The worries among the British peaked in March 1944, when a “government of the mountains” was created that organized elections. Conversely, this approach awakened the enthusiasm of the Greek armed forces in Egypt, who immediately demanded that the Resistance be included in the exile government. Churchill replied with pitiless repression. He had “rebellious” elements deported to camps in Africa, and set up a praetorian guard prepared to return to Greece with the King and the British troops upon Liberation.
Everything was set for the application of the MANNA plan, which had been prepared the previous year. The victorious Red Army offensive in Bulgaria in September 1944 forced the Wehrmacht to withdraw from Greece, under attack from ELAS partisans. It was after this retreat that the British expeditionary corps arrived, accompanied by Papandreou and Scobie. Establishing themselves in the capital on October 18, the two men demanded that ELAS lay down its weapons, even as they rejected the disarming of the praetorian guard that had been formed in Egypt and, conveniently enough, transferred to Athens in early November.
December 3, 1944, saw a monster demonstration in Syntagma Square to demand Papandreou’s resignation and the constitution of a new government. The massacre that followed — the police opened fire on unarmed civilians, leaving over twenty dead and more than a hundred wounded — triggered the insurrection of the people of Athens. This was the pretext that Churchill had sought in order to be able to break the Resistance.
While the ELAS was still present across the rest of Greece’s territory, its leaders dreaded imposing new trials on an exhausted and famished population: 1,770 villages had been burned, more than a million people did not have a roof over their heads, and grain production had fallen by 40 percent. Meanwhile, the Allies’ aid only reached those who collaborated with them. With the Varkiza accord signed on February 12, 1945, the ELAS agreed unilaterally to give up its weapons. At the same time at Yalta, Churchill, together with Roosevelt and Stalin, solemnly proclaimed “the right of all peoples in liberated Europe to choose their own form of government.”
In breaking the Greek Resistance, the British had precipitated a civil war that would last — in open or latent forms — for some thirty years, with a brief lull between 1963 and 1965. It would only end with the fall of the colonels’ dictatorship in 1974. This “coup in Athens” reminds us that through its history, modern Greece has only enjoyed a very limited sovereignty.
more on history in this IMS blog
Germany’s iron cage
Germany adopted the social market system of economic rules separated from political democracy, known as ordoliberalism, after 1945; it was later used as the ideological basis of Europe Union economic policy.
by François Denord, Rachel Knaebel & Pierre Rimbert
Ordoliberals, like the Anglo-Saxon advocates of laissez-faire, believe the state should not distort the workings of the markets, but they also believe that free competition does not develop spontaneously. The state should establish a legal, technical, social, moral and cultural framework for the markets, and make sure everyone follows the rules.
The rise of ordoliberalism was part of a vast international renewal of liberal thought in the 1930s — neoliberalism. In this context, the ordos opposed those nostalgic for laissez-faire — Ludwig von Mises and his disciple Friedrich Hayek — who, Rüstow complained, “found nothing to criticise or to change in traditional liberalism.”
The Invasion of Czechoslovakia Through Women’s Eyes
Fifty years ago, five Warsaw Pact nations invaded Czechoslovakia. Here are stories of four women who didn’t hesitate to act bravely during these days.
more on history in this IMS blog
A Review of ‘Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online’
In Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online, Marwick and Lewis (2017) of the Data & Society Research Institute described the agents of media manipulation, their modus operandi, motivators, and how they’ve taken advantage of the vulnerability of online media. The researchers described the manipulators as right-wing extremists (RWE), also known as alt-right, who run the gamut from sexists (including male sexual conquest communities) to white nationalists to anti-immigration activists and even those who rebuke RWE identification but whose actions confer such classification. These manipulators rally behind a shared belief on online forums, blogs, podcasts, and social media through pranks or ruinous trolling anonymity, usurping participatory culture methods (networking, humor, mentorship) for harassment, and competitive cyber brigades that earn status by escalating bullying such as the sharing of a target’s private information.
Marwick and Lewis reported on how RWE groups have taken advantage of certain media tactics to gain viewers’ attention such as novelty and sensationalism, as well as their interactions with the public via social media, to manipulate it for their agenda. For instance, YouTube provides any individual with a portal and potential revenue to contribute to the media ecosystem. The researchers shared the example of the use of YouTube by conspiracy theorists, which can be used as fodder for extremist networks as conspiracies generally focus on loss of control of important ideals, health, and safety.
One tactic they’re using is to package their hate in a way that appeals to millennials. They use attention hacking to increase their status such as hate speech, which is later recanted as trickster trolling all the while gaining the media’s attention for further propagation
SHARED MODUS OPERANDI
Marwick and Lewis reported the following shared tactics various RWE groups use for online exploits:
- Ambiguity of persona or ideology,
- Baiting a single or community target’s emotions,
- Bots for amplification of propaganda that appears legitimately from a real person,
- “…Embeddedness in Internet culture… (p. 28),”
- Exploitation of young male rebelliousness,
- Hate speech and offensive language (under the guise of First Amendment protections),
- Irony to cloak ideology and/or skewer intended targets,
- Memes for stickiness of propaganda,
- Mentorship in argumentation, marketing strategies, and subversive literature in their communities of interest,
- Networked and agile groups,
- “…Permanent warfare… (p.12)” call to action,
- Pseudo scholarship to deceive readers,
- “…Quasi moral arguments… (p. 7)”
- Shocking images for filtering network membership,
- “Trading stories up the chain… (p. 38)” from low-level news outlets to mainstream, and
- Trolling others with asocial behavior.
teenagers in Veles, Macedonia who profited around 16K dollars per month via Google’s AdSense from Facebook post engagements
a long history of mistrust with mainstream media
If you’re a college instructor of communications or teach digital literacy as a librarian, see the corresponding syllabus for this article. It provides discussion questions and assignments for teaching students about media manipulation. To teach your students how to combat fake news online, see my post on Navigating Post-Truth Societies: Strategies, Resources, and Technologies.
more on fake news in this iMS blog