I’ve read the book; now what?

What a roller coaster Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart book has been: he tugged me down into startling awareness how addicted I am to digital communication and observation and connection, threw open the curtains to my vulnerability to surveillance (targeted ads, cookies, etc.), highlighted ways people are misinformed with all the crap online, and generally forced me to look at technology for once. As a non-essential part to life. Once I was fully frazzled, I read chapter 6.

What is the purpose of the book, just to help me realize I shouldn’t put my phone in a zipped plastic bag and bring it in the shower with me just in case someone texts me? No. As Rheingold says, “There is no influence without knowledge and effort” (p. 253). We as a class have read about his five (timely) essential literacies and the strengths and weaknesses of social media and networks and doing good and doing bad. That’s the knowledge part. So, if we want to influence, to be a catalyst for change, what effort are we willing to make?

Posted on October 26, 2014, in Social Media, Technology. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. We are definitely in the same ballpark. I feel a certain sense of responsibility now that we have been given this knowledge. To do nothing seems like wasted potential or at least a wasted opportunity. When addressing how much effort one is willing to put into a task, I think we must know what our goal will be. As I discussed in my post, what is your goal? What will you do with this knowledge?

  2. I am right with you on this one, Carolyn. After reading through Rheingold’s chapters and Turkle’s work, I was increasingly aware of how subtle the connections of technology have with my daily life. (However, I keep reading old-school: paperback only, baby!). Your post reminded me of this video: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/01/prince-ea-video_n_5916354.html

    I’ve intentionally started asking friends to put their phones down during dinners or hangout times, and have even made a competition of it. Everyone must put their phone face down on the table, in a stack. The first person to check their phone BEFORE the bills arrive must pay for everyone’s meal. You would think I had asked people to sacrifice their first born children! What was most interesting was WHY everyone was on their phone: to post about hanging out with friends!

  3. Excellent post and great comments already about how to make changes in your personal lives. My question to you all now is, what are you to do in your professional lives if your job pushes you to be connected all of the time or work across time zones? I know it’s manageable, and even I have extensive email policies I share with my undergraduates, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still get emails mere hours before a paper is due. Does the student expect me to answer right away? If I do, will that reinforce the idea that I am available 24/7? Since I see most of these undergrads on campus every Tuesday and Thursday I usually don’t answer and just wait to speak to them, but I wonder if our laptop campus is creating a new generation of hyper-connected, technology-dependent students…

  4. I really do love technology. I’ve been finding it really difficult to remember things lately, so I literally put every single task and thing I have to do in a day on my Google Calendar. Everything from “work on midterm” to “buy cat litter” is on my Google Calendar. Writing myself a paper list doesn’t seem to do much for me because the paper gets lost in my pocket. Most importantly, I realized, the paper is not interactive. The paper list doesn’t rumble or beep in my pocket 10 minutes before my scheduled task. My phone does and quite honestly, I would feel rather lost without it.

    However, when it comes to social media and other non-essential things – I don’t freak out as much. I know that I can check all of these things on a computer, where I can sit back in a chair and relax and process things better.

    Rheingold’s book does make me feel like I need to take more responsibility over my actions on the Internet. I need to stop being so passive and open myself up to not only consume information, but to actively take part in it as well.

  5. natashajmceachin

    This is the second time I’m seeing a post of this nature this week, I honestly think the purpose of this book is awareness.

  6. Although a reader of Rheingold’s book would be aware of different ways to function online, I have to politely disagree that awareness was his intention when writing the book. The book, in its entirety, is a blueprint for utilizing online networks for your benefit by exercising the concepts he lays out. To me, even the title “How to Thrive Online” suggests active participation. What we choose to do with the knowledge gained is entirely up to the individual reader and doesn’t make one person better than anyone else, no matter how they choose to use it.

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