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Net Smart: How to Thrive Online Hardcover – March 16, 2012
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The social media landscape changes quicker than you can say 'future shock.' As soon as you think you've mastered one network, another pops up, demanding its share of time and attention. Thank goodness, then, for Howard Rheingold. He has identified the skills -- simultaneously old-fashioned and cutting-edge -- that not only will help you thrive in this tumultuous world, but also help you shape social media into a force for good. Net Smart is a lifeboat for people who want to participate in new technologies without drowning in the flood.(Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind)
A desperately needed and wonderfully written guide to being literate in today's digital, always-on world. This book is not just descriptive. It articulates a comprehensive set of social norms, practices and protocols that help us unleash the collective power of networked intelligence. And, yes, using the web mindfully can indeed make us smarter, as this book will illustrate. A must read for anyone wanting to thrive in today's increasingly connected world.(John Seely Brown, Former Chief Scientist of Xerox Corp and Director of Xerox Palo Alto Research Center; co-author of A New Culture of Learning )
Once again, Howard Rheingold has found a way of journeying into the future and coming back with gold. The questions he tackles here could not be more pertinent. Whether you're thrilled at the amazing potential for online collaboration, or just stressed by your email in-box, his insights on how to achieve a new form of digital literacy deserve wide adoption.(Chris Anderson, Curator of TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design))
Education today is woefully inadequate. It's about teaching people information and skills as if we're alone and disconnected, stocking knowledge and tools in our brains. Today, it is important to learn how to find information and how to collaborate. Written in the traditionally smart and fun-to-read Rheingoldian style, Net Smart is the guide on how to think, learn, survive and thrive in the post-internet era. An essential guide and a must-read!(Joichi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab)
That Rheingold has written a smart and enjoyable guide is unsurprising....Rheingold does us an important service by offering a number of insights into, and strategies for, the 'net smarts' we need to function more efficiently in our increasingly online world.(James Hendler Science)
Here, I'd point to the work of my friend Howard Rheingold and his new book Net Smart, which is an excellent guide for how to be a digitally fluent user of all the technologies we have available to us now. It's an excellent book and I think the FCC should include it in their plan for training the digital educators going into schools!(Christopher Mims Technology Review)
If you are going to purchase one book about using social media, this is the one to read. It's for people who want to go deeper and get practical know how, improved productivity, and integrate physical and virtual lives.(Beth Kantor)
About the Author
Howard Rheingold, an influential writer and thinker on social media, is the author of Tools for Thought: The History and Future of Mind-Expanding Technology, The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier (both published by the MIT Press), and Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution.
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The only drawback for me was that Howardʻs writing style is liberally infused with new terminology -much of which seems created "on the fly". On the one hand, this is new territory covering an old topic (communication) so it warrants new terminology to catch the nuances of the change but I just found it slow reading at times and having to re-read sections to fully understand what he is getting at.
Oh, and it helps that Rheingold is a fun writer. He's been doing this for a long time, so it helped my students when he told stories about what it was like in the 70's and 80's. It gave him a lot of credibility and let me historically situate social media within larger historical trends.
The one problem I had with the book was the self help tone to it all. Rheingold is big on mindfulness, and it can be a little repetitive. I'm also not 100% sure why we need the term because it seems like a more complicated way to conceptualize "think about what you do".
Perhaps my favorite part of the book, though, is the way Rheingold's enthusiasm and passion for his topic resonated with me and the students. It's a fun read, and we had no shortage of subjects to talk about in our seminars.
My only criticism is the length of the chapters. They really should have been broken up in finer chunks to make it easier for teachers to work them into 50-minute sessions.
The instructor in a general media literacy course would want to use this book as a supplement to other texts in the class because I have not found such texts to even remotely cover the subject of online literacy adequately. Many in academia haven't had the time to explore the social media themselves so this text will provide a wonderful introduction.
This text could easily be used as the main text in either an upper level undergraduate course or even a graduate course that explores how people use and should use the Internet in general and social media specifically.
Howard offers Five Literacies as a baseline requirement for anyone who interacts with computers, smart phones, tablets, social media and their related networks. A comprehensive understanding and clear explication of how we human beings have always and continue to co-evolve with our tools is exactly what one would expect from a man who was an Editor at The Whole Earth Review and who has spent the better part of 30 years living and researching life online.
I came away from this book with a much enlarged understanding of the roles that the internet, the worldwide web, social media, history, politics, personal responsibility and a sense of larger purpose are playing in the collective discovery of a future for humanity that will work for the majority of people on Earth - a prerequisite we'd all do well to recognize as necessary to ensure our species' survival. It is not yet a given that this is the path that we will collectively take.
I highly recommend this book for anyone with a curious mind, a feeling for history and a sense of purpose and adventure.