Media Lab Conversations Series: Howard Rheingold

November 25, 2012

How can we use digital media so that they help us become empowered participants rather than passive consumers? In his book Net Smart, Howard Rheingold shows how to use social media intelligently, humanely, and, above all, mindfully. Download the table of contents (PDF) here.

Mindful use of digital media means thinking about what we are doing, and 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; examines how successful online collaborative enterprises contribute new knowledge to the world in new ways; and presents a lesson on networks and network building.

There is a bigger social issue at work in digital literacy, one that goes beyond personal empowerment. If we combine our 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.

Rheingold’s talk will be followed by a conversation with Joi Ito and Mimi Ito, as well as Q&A.
Books will available for purchase and signing by Howard Rheingold.

MIT Media Lab

Watch the presentation