NMC Horizon Connect Session: Howard Rheingold is Net Smart

Today I sat in on a really interesting webinar sponsored by the New Media Consortium. Howard Rheingold spoke about the five literacies he believes are key to using the web, and social media, well. Here are my notes, but you may want to check out the recording of the webinar as well. There was so much chatter going on in the chat box and on the Twitter stream that I’m sure I missed things, though I tried to stay focused on his presentation.

5 literacies – Not really being taught in school.

  • Attention
    • Fractured by our devices. You don’t really know if people are paying attention to you.
    • For most of us, multitasking degrades our performance. Small percentage can effectively multitask w/o degrading performance.
    • Can you train your attention? Mindfulness/metacognition How to probe your attention to see where it is? (He did a thing in class where at certain preset intervals or cues everyone would stop and write down what they were thinking about on a post-it. One color for on topic with class discussion, one color for off-topic. Interesting to put them all up on the wall and see how it looked.)
    • Online attention – infotention. Making decisions all the time while we’re online. Ignore that email? Click the link? Open it now, look at it later, bookmark for much later?
    • What are your priorities? Are you on task? H writes down goals and sets it at the corner of his desk. Gaze naturally falls to it occasionally.
    • You can train your attention – breathe, when you stop it amps up your nervous system
  • Participation
    • Web is a many-to-many medium, not built from the top down.
    • Curation – find someone who knows what they’re talking about. More info comes our way than we use – gotta sort through it somehow. Helps establish your rep as someone who knows what they’re talking about.
    • Curation is like personal search engine optimization. Sends out signals to others that you’re engaged and know the topic.
    • Cultivate social capital – networks of trust/norms of reciprocity.
    • Participatory culture has effects on the individual and on the commons. Tons of ways to participate.
    • Passive consumers think differently than participants. Don’t just consume – create.
    • Crap detect thyself!
    • Power law of participation – starts with a low threshold (read, favorite) and moves up to writing and collaborating.
  • Collaboration
    • Many flavors of collaboration. Smart mobs. Virtual communities. Collective intelligence (Wikipedia)
    • Swarm computing (using unused computers to crunch data). Folding.stanford.edu or the online game foldit – folding proteins.
    • Crowdsourcing – crowd mapping in disasters. Great for humanitarian stuff.
    • Cooperative learning – where do you go to figure out how to do something? Youtube, online tutorials.
    • Peeragogy – what do people need to know if they’re trying to learn something online?
    • We cooperate as much as we compete.
    • Actions and collaborations climb the curve of engagement. Small things lead to larger things.
    • People contribute to collaborative work for a lot of reasons. Ex programmers & open source – want to improve their code, enhance reputation. And it also adds to a public good. Group with a mixture of motives is best.
    • Casual conversation builds trust. So, idle chatter can have a useful purpose.
  • Crap detection
    • What you see on the internet isn’t always as legit as it appears. Goes through some examples commonly used in IL courses
    • Think like a detective, look for clues – don’t accept what you see at face value – search to learn – triangulate to validate information – if no one in your network annoys you, you’re in an echo chamber
  • Network awareness
    • Networks have structures that influence the way individuals and groups behave
    • Strong and weak ties are useful in a networked society
    • Position matters – centrality, how many people go through you to get to others?
    • Diverse networks are collectively smarter.
    • People who can bridge/connect/”fill structural holes” stand to benefit
    • Pay it forward – visible favors show you’re engaging and collaborating

(some of the) Questions

Are these US centric literacies?
Notions of privacy are different everywhere, view of group and individual differs. Cultural differences but for example, crap detection is universal.

How do you sort collectors from thinkers?
You need to pay attention for a while and use your own judgment to figure out how knows what they’re talking about. When you find 1 or 2 you can triangulate who they think is good.

How does participatory culture play into policing online?
Cameras up in public places aren’t yet networked, software for picking out your face isn’t quite ready, but we’re getting there. We should have talked about this 15 years ago.

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