What’s The End Goal?

After reading through Rheingold’s book Net Smart, I have been many things.  I have been confused, I have been enlightened, I have had my ‘aha’ moments and I have even been inspired.  Closing in on the end of Chapter five, a disturbing question crept into my mind.  What is the goal?  Perhaps a question more to the point is-what should my goal be?

Rheingold has covered getting online, navigating information, how to participate and contribute online, creating social capital, gaining attention, and the inner workings of social networks.  What am I supposed to do with this?  Rheingold writes books and contributes to the online community for monetary compensation.  He may be helping the greater good by sharing (adding value), but in the end, he does it because it allows him to make a living.  Should I be blogging and tweeting in order to drive traffic to my blog in order to make a living?  In order to keep the scope of this blog focused, I will use an example situation.

I have a passion for land stewardship e.g. cultivating crops, timber stand improvement, wildlife habitat improvement, soil health, and native flora and fauna enrichment.  If I decide to blog about this topic, I will definitely be in the long tail…I have a feeling more towards the tip.  I understand the principles of developing relationships inside this community and creating social capital.  Am I doing something wrong by stopping there?  Would being a bridge within that community be enough?  Should I still be linked to and follow people in the tech world, politics, and the business world?  Would only investing in my passion erode my online health?

I could go on with a hundred questions along those lines.  The obvious answer would be “whatever makes you happy”, but I don’t think that is it.  Can the concepts laid out in the book be a guide to an overall more enriched life?  Is that the goal?  In the end, I understand the ideas presented in the book, but I am questioning the application.

Did this book change your idea of online navigation and interaction? Will it change the way you participate within online groups?  Most important, what will you do with the information that Rheingold has discussed?

Posted on October 26, 2014, in Blogs, Society and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I think it’s pretty interesting that we just read about how people use Wikipedia in chapter 4, and this week the Times has an article on how it is now a credible source of information on Ebola. Even doctors are advocates.


  2. Michelle Mailey Noben

    I’ve asked these same questions of myself during this course. I’m not exactly a person who necessarily wants to devote the time and effort on a networked presence at the expense of other important aspects of my life. I believe it was in the “contra-Turkle” midterm reading (pardon me, I don’t have the title in front of me) where the authors assert that, basically, to be a relevant member of the network (the future) one must become comfortable and active in the network. This makes sense if your goal is to be relevant in the future.

    For me, my resistance to this idea has made me feel “old” and out of touch for the first time. I suspect that my own habits and stubbornness make me dig my heels in at the prospect of this change. I think back to the “good old days” when following passions for my own pleasure and personal satisfaction was enough. Now, in order to be successful as a design professional (or many other professions and in personal relationships), a network presence is absolutely vital.

    That’s what I think the book comes down to, a tool for those looking to be relevant and successful in the network. “To each his own” or “whatever makes you happy” does seem reductionist when considering the social and professional implications of choosing to not be active in the network.


  3. I think the value is being more aware of how literacy has changed because of technology and how our lives have changed too. And for those who will take Rhetorical Theory next semester, I think you’ll notice that the goal is many MSTPC courses is to realize you can contribute to the conversation rather than being passive recipients of information.

  4. natashajmceachin

    I also found many of the concepts in this book impractical, having an online presence is important but it really isn’t going to do much for my future (other than my social life). I’m glad to hear someone else is on the same page.

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