Featured Learning Technology The Internet

Internet era life skills

I recently encountered somewhat shocking — though not necessarily surprising — data about the average person’s computer skills. The vast majority of people are not able to complete complex tasks on a computer. Only five percent of Americans had high level computer skills that allowed them to do things like troubleshoot or analyze data using multiple tools.

These data are from 2011-2015, so the numbers have certainly changed. I would definitely guess there are fewer people who are unable to use a computer at all. But, I was discussing with a friend that we doubted there’s been a substantial increase in the number of people able to complete complicated, multi-step, multi-program tasks. Over the past ten years, technology and user interfaces have trended towards simplification and single-task software (there’s an app for that!). Reducing friction for common tasks removes challenges people might have needed to troubleshoot in the past — and if you don’t ever face problems accomplishing what you need to, you never get to practice or even develop troubleshooting skills.

And basic computer literacy isn’t enough to get by in the internet age. Someone learning how to use the internet today needs to also learn a broad range of skills to protect themselves, communicate effectively, and obtain trustworthy information. Too many people are credulous and uncritical in what they believe. There are so many dark design patterns (or are we not calling it that anymore?) and bad actors attempting to manipulate you that it requires a bulwark of skills to defend against having your time and money stolen, or even worse, indoctrination.

Many of these skills are personal responses to systemic problems that some regulation might assist with. Not that regulation is easy: GDPR wound up giving us all obnoxious popup cookie banners instead of reducing the cookies websites use or data corporations collect — but at least some websites do now allow you to reject non-essential cookies.

Resources and Reference

Making a passphrase with dice

Bookmarked EFF Dice-Generated Passphrases (Electronic Frontier Foundation)

Create strong passphrases with EFF’s new random number generators! This page includes information about passwords, different wordlists, and EFF’s suggested method for passphrase generation. Use the directions below with any set of dice.And now, a message from internationally renowned security…

I use a password generator for most purposes but if I need something longer this could be a good option.

Activism Environment Future Building

Obsolete already

Replied to Google Is Forcing Me to Dump a Perfectly Good Phone by Aaron Gordon (

Three years ago, my Pixel 3 was the latest and greatest Google phone. Now, the company has stopped providing software updates, making it a security risk to use.

*screams into the void*

Google just loves to rub their “don’t be evil” origins into the dirt. Why couldn’t Microsoft have gotten into the phone business early enough to be competitive? 😭😭😭

In right to repair legislation we’re seeing requirements that parts continue to be available for a certain period of time… (Not that it’s passed yet as far as I recall but the idea’s there…fingers crossed for this legislative session!) Could we also have policies requiring that high end devices be maintained for a minimum number of years?