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About Bart Everson

Media Artist in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development at Xavier University of Louisiana

Note: This post written by Dr. Elizabeth Manley (Department of History).

Do you need a quiet space to write on campus? Looking to take a writing lunch? Have some planned writing time but keep getting distracted? Come by CAT+FD and take advantage of our new writing room!

CAT+FD Faculty Writing Room

Over the summer, we repurposed an old office in CAT+FD as a dedicated faculty writing room. The room, located just off the reception area, is a space solely for scholarly writing and research. It is an email-, social media-, and grading-free zone, where you can get away for an hour (or six!) for some focused research and/or writing time. Sit in an armchair and do some reading, spread out on the big farm table to get some words on the page, or simply contemplate a new (or old) project.

CAT+FD Faculty Writing Room

It’s totally up to you! Here’s what one visitor has to say:

The writing room was the perfect place for me to go and shut myself off from the world to get my conference presentation completed. The room is comfortable and the staff was very attentive offering drinks and snacks as I worked. I will definitely use this space again when I just simply need to get
work done without disruptions!!

Celeste R. Parker, SLP.D., CCC-SLP
Director of Clinical Education, Department of Speech Pathology

Further, we are building a library on writing productivity (for online suggestions see the new Writing and Research Productivity resources on our wiki), as well as working to fill the space with plants and nurturing vibes.

We have refreshments, quiet, and (hopefully) writing inspiration. Come by, grab a coffee and a snack, and get down to writing! We look forward to seeing you soon!

Technology promises productivity and even happiness — but does it deliver?

With so many apps and options for accessing information and communicating, it’s more important than ever to be highly selective and intentional in our choices.

Maintaining Focus in a Fragmented WorldJoin us as we explore the ideas and practices put forward in Cal Newport’s provocative new book, Digital Minimalism.

Learn about the concepts of digital minimalism and how to implement them.

Date: Saturday, September 14, 2019
Time: 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Location: Mellon Seminar Room - LRC 532B

Lunch will be served. Participants will receive a copy of the book.

Open to all Xavier faculty and staff. Limited number of seats — register today!

Did you know you can get CAT+FD events in your electronic calendar? Use this LINK and you can get workshop listings automatically in your Google Calendar, iCal, or whatever system you prefer.

That might also make it just a little easier to remember that we are continuing our popular mid-week meditation series, now entering its fourth year. It starts this Wednesday, August 21st!

Read on for details... ...continue reading "Put a Little Quiet in Your Calendar"

I'm joining the Bike Easy Challenge to get more Xavier faculty and staff riding bikes in New Orleans. Riding a bike can make you happier, healthier and wealthier. That's what I call professional development!

Did you know that New Orleans ranks #7 (among cities with over a quarter-million residents) for the percentage of people who bike to work?

And yet we could certainly do better by our bike riders, our transit riders, and our pedestrians. As I've argued elsewhere, safe transport is an issue of social justice and aligned with Xavier's mission.

Plus there are awesome prizes for riding and encouraging others throughout the month of April. Find out more and register at lovetoride.net/bikeeasy

It only takes a minute. It doesn't matter if you ride every day, or if you haven't been on a bike in years. Everyone is invited!

Be sure to join the Xavier team. Last year I think I was the lone participant, but this year we've got nine people and counting. We've been duking it out with UNO for second rank in the education sector, but Tulane is looking tough to beat.

Holler at me if you need any technical assistance or have any questions.

PS: April 10th is National Bike to Work Day, and the forecast is lovely.

Are you encrypting your texts? You should be — now more than ever.

Before the 2016 election, writing for TechCrunch, Steven Renderos and Mark Tseng Putterman observed that "for activists and people of color, strong encryption is essential."

 

Here in New Orleans, in the interim between the election and the inauguration, local firebrand Jules Bentley published a treatise on strategies for strengthening the resistance. In passing, he mentioned "using Signal for texting" as an easy starting place, even for people who don't think they're in a targeted group.

Bentley wasn't alone in recommending Signal for sending encrypted texts at that time. Trump's ascendancy led to a surge of downloads for the Signal app, leading Recode magazine to opine that "encrypted messaging is the new regular messaging."

That's where I got started, and you can too. Here's a quick guide. ...continue reading "Just Encryption Part 2: Text Messages"

Note: On Christmas Eve, 2015, the New York Times published an article by Dr. George Yancy of Emory University, in the form of a letter titled "Dear White America." Earlier this year, Dr. Yancy published a book of reflections on the reactions garnered by the letter, Backlash: What Happens When We Talk Honestly about Racism in America, which a group of Xavier faculty and staff discussed for our 2018 Fall Faculty Book Club. In honor of Dr. Yancy's original letter, on this Christmas Eve, we offer one reader's reply.

Dear Professor Yancy,

I feel compelled to write to you, as you have written to me, in your letter, "Dear White America." We read your letter and your book, Backlash, in a book club here at the university where I work in New Orleans. I found your letter moving, and I want to thank you for your gift. I want to thank you for crystallizing issues with which I've been wrestling over the past months and years, complex issues of race and racism in America, of whiteness and white supremacy. Your book, and particularly your letter, distill some of these issues to their essence in a pointed and poignant manner. For this, I am grateful. ...continue reading "Dear Professor Yancy"

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encrypt

Every time you visit a website, information is flowing between your device and a server out there somewhere. In the early days of the internet, most all that information was transmitted "in the clear," also known as "cleartext," meaning unencrypted. Cleartext, if intercepted, can be easily read. That means a third party could monitor the content you're accessing. That's kind of like someone knowing what books you've checked out of the library, and even what chapters you've specifically looked at. Creepy! Ain't nobody's business but your own. If that doesn't concern you, consider what happens when the data transmitted includes sensitive information like usernames and passwords.

That's why, in recent years, we've seen more and more sites serving content over a secure connection. The mechanics of these transactions are quite fascinating, but the important point is that the information flowing between you and the server is encrypted. If it's intercepted, it's going to be difficult for that mysterious third party to figure out exactly what content was being transmitted. In short, encrypted sites are much more secure.

Encryption is so easy and so valuable, in fact, that it's becoming the rule rather than the exception. Google (the most popular search engine) gives preference in its search results to sites that serve their content securely. Chrome (the most popular web browser) flags insecure sites. The web is in transition. Truly pervasive encryption is not here yet, but it looks like the way of the future.

CAT+FD got with the program last year. With some help from our friends in ITC, we started encrypting all content from cat.xula.edu. You probably never noticed, but that makes our site a little more secure than it was.

So how do you tell? How can the average user distinguish a site that's encrypted from one that isn't? ...continue reading "Just Encryption Part 1: Web Basics"

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In honor of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, I'm launching a series of posts on the subject of encryption in service of social justice.

Detail from "Encryption Made Easy" (Bart Everson, 2016)

 

I've long been fascinated with encryption. As a kid, I thought codes were cool. As an adult, I see the value encryption offers for keeping my personal data secure.

But what, if anything, does encryption have to do with social justice?

Plenty.

I got my first inkling in 2016, just after the election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the land. Under the prior administration, the apparatus of the surveillance state was developed to levels previously unimaginable. Obama handed that system to Trump.

Of course, if you're not concerned about our own government spying on us, perhaps you're concerned about foreign powers. There's no denying that international cyberwarfare is real. There are also hackers and straight-up cyber criminals. Not to mention those big corporations.

Whoever's doing the snooping, the harm is felt disproportionately by marginalized communities — as is typically the case when power relations are manifestly unequal.

Rights must be understood and exercised in order to afford us any protection. That holds as true for privacy rights in the digital realm as it did in the analog era of the civil rights movement.

Furthermore, scholars have a special interest in freedom of inquiry, germane to all those working in the field of education. Educating on these issues is aligned with Xavier's mission, and it's vitally important that our faculty and staff understand what's at stake.

As noted in a recent United Nations report, encryption is emerging as a keystone for human rights in the 21st century:

Encryption and anonymity, today's leading vehicles for online security, provide individuals with a means to protect their privacy, empowering them to browse, read, develop and share opinions and information without interference and enabling journalists, civil society organizations, members of ethnic or religious groups, those persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, activists, scholars, artists and others to exercise the rights to freedom of opinion and expression.

Encryption is simply the practice of putting your data into a secret code so other people can't read it. It's an important tool for maintaining privacy and security online. Before the 2016 election, writing for TechCrunch, Steven Renderos and Mark Tseng Putterman observed that "for activists and people of color, strong encryption is essential."

In the days and weeks ahead, I'll be publishing a series of simple tips to help you get started using encryption more frequently. I'm far from expert myself, so I'll be learning as I go. If you have any questions or suggestions, don't hesitate to let me know.

Next up: Using Signal for secure text messaging.

Did you know that New Orleans ranks #7 for the percentage of people who bike to work, amongst cities with over 250,000 residents?

And yet we could certainly do better by our bike riders, our transit riders, and our pedestrians. As I've argued elsewhere, bikeped safety is an issue of social justice and aligned with Xavier's mission.

I would like to invite the Xavier community to help with a special effort to "Connect the Crescent." I've been designated as the XULA Green faculty and staff volunteer coordinator for this effort.

(Get the PDF)

In September, Xavier volunteers will work to improve connections from Uptown to the Central Business District (CBD), the Lafitte Greenway to the French Quarter, and the Algiers Ferry terminal to the French Quarter or CBD.

Family-oriented biking and walking events will also be held with numerous opportunities for sharing feedback about the network from September through December.

Volunteers are crucial to making Connect the Crescent a success and there are many ways to get involved!

For more information, and to sign up for a volunteer slot, visit ConnectTheCrescent.com

What does it mean to bring a contemplative approach to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning? That's the subject of an upcoming webinar from the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education. ...continue reading "SoTL Webinar"