Howard Rheingold – Net Smart: How to Thrive Online

Howard Rheingold - Net Smart: How to Thrive Online

The MIT Press, ISBN: 9780262017459, 272 pages, 2012, English
Howard Rheingold has already proved himself a one-of-a-kind writer when it comes to technology and society. He’s not a theorist, nor a classic academic, but a skilled researcher and writer whose approach to technology is factual, analytical and clarifying, all viewed from a social perspective. Here he addresses one of the most underestimated dangers of the internet as a collective tool to grow: the deadly mixture of overwhelming amounts of available information and the lack of strategies for navigating and using the information fruitfully. Through his usual dialogues with acknowledged scientists and experts he develops the narrative of his essay. Rheingold stresses how important it is to “learn to make microdecisions” that allow us to filter out unimportant information and to be able to sort through the data we do need in an orderly way. Another essential general rule the author suggests is “learn to sample”, and only retain the amount of information that is important for us. The question would be: are our minds ready for this? The author would perhaps answer that it doesn’t matter, because we’re in a crucial time when the use and public perception of these technologies is being shaped by us (the users). There’s a clear focus on social networks and how communities can really help to filter the right information, just by asking for help from the right person. This can escalate to potential “architectures of participation” which can constitute a fierce opposition to the distracting dynamics which can harm our potential knowledge.