Net Smart: How to Thrive Online (MIT Press)
Like it or not, knowing how to make use of online tools without being overloaded with too much information is an essential ingredient to personal success in the twenty-first century. But how can we use digital media so that they make us empowered participants rather than passive receivers, grounded, well-rounded people rather than multitasking basket cases? In Net Smart, cyberculture expert Howard Rheingold shows us how to use social media intelligently, humanely, and, above all, mindfully.
Mindful use of digital media means thinking about what we are doing, cultivating an ongoing inner inquiry into how we want to spend our time. Rheingold outlines five fundamental digital literacies, online skills that will help us do this: attention, participation, collaboration, critical consumption of information (or "crap detection"), and network smarts. He explains how attention works, and how we can use our attention to focus on the tiny relevant portion of the incoming tsunami of information. He describes the quality of participation that empowers the best of the bloggers, netizens, tweeters, and other online community participants; he examines how successful online collaborative enterprises contribute new knowledge to the world in new ways; and he teaches us a lesson on networks and network building.
Rheingold points out that there is a bigger social issue at work in digital literacy, one that goes beyond personal empowerment. If we combine our individual efforts wisely, it could produce a more thoughtful society: countless small acts like publishing a Web page or sharing a link could add up to a public good that enriches everybody.
the same possible chasm that Jackson foretells. I’m looking for ways to climb out. I don’t see myself arguing with Jackson; rather, I see myself attempting to answer her challenge. Jackson and I see eye to eye that such a catastrophe potentially might be forestalled by paying attention to attention. Despite her semiapocalyptic predictions, Jackson ends optimistically: “And yet, a renaissance of attention may be at hand. An antidote to our epidemic distraction lies in a set of astonishing
scales and in other contexts. A mind that has changed is more likely to imagine a world that can change.25 122 Chapter 3 Blogging is a way to find your voice and public, connect with likeminded communities, improve your digital profile, influence others, and contribute to the commons. For practical advice about blogging as participation, I begin with the notion of voice and four of the genres of blog rhetoric I have introduced to my university students: blogger as filter, connector, critic,
talk about news, weather, and sports is a kind of social lubrication that can enable the networks of trust as well as norms of reciprocity from which community and social capital can grow. A platform for mass collaboration: I forgive Twestival’s cute name, because this online charity event has raised over a quarter-million dollars via Twitter, funding fifty-five clean-water projects for seventeen thousand people in Ethiopia, Uganda, and India.67 Institutions are emerging around the use of Twitter
you and your circumstances from the ignorantly or maliciously inaccurate information. While our public schools do a poor to fair job preparing students for life in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, instruction in online search and credibility testing for our current milieu is not taught in most classrooms. Unless a great many people learn the basics of online crap detection, and begin applying their critical faculties en masse and soon, I fear for the Internet’s future as a useful source of
creatures who dare not open systems to the entire world because there are some bad actors out there. Instead of employing purely technological defenses or social barriers to entry, Wikipedia makes it easy for people to change a misplaced punctuation mark or delete entire pages. Making it easy to edit makes it easy to damage. Yet one role in the Wikipedia community is “recent changes patrol.” Anybody can adopt a page and arrange to receive a notification the moment that page is edited; other tools