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On Rheingold’s essential book and a couple others not to miss

netsmartcover On Rheingolds essential book and a couple others not to miss

The game has changed.  We need to play the new one wisely.  We need to teach others how to do the same.
Though we may rely heavily on our favorite feeds and brief network updates, it’s good to have a thoughtful and more comprehensive examination of what’s going on.
And we need to be able to more easily share the new approaches we discover with those who may be feedless.
I am currently reading three books that take careful aim at the moving target that is our digital world.
Rheingold, Howard.  Net Smart: How to Thrive Online.  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012.
Intelligently, humanely, mindfully.
I just got my copy of Howard Rheingold’s new book Net Smart: How to Thrive Online.  Though I am still reading, already I know this is a book I’ve been waiting for.
And I am already thinking of how I will be using it with our high school students, with our teachers in professional development, and in the grad course I will be teaching next fall.

While authors like Nick Carr warn us of the long-term dangers of the time we spend online, Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs, the man who coined the term virtual community, acknowledges the issues and presents strategies for successful digital citizenship in the broadest sense, for mindful use of technology.

Rheingold believes that we must be empowered digital participants rather than passive consumers.  That the emerging digital divide is between those who know how to use social media for individual advantage and collective action, and those who do not.

He focuses on the intelligent use of social media, what we all should be teaching as information professionals and he centers on five critical new literacies:
  • attention
  • crap detection
  • participation
  • collaboraton
  • network smarts

The book is essential reading for professionals responsible for teaching digital/media literacy (all of us?), because as Rheingold says, educational institutions cannot change swiftly and broadly enough to match the pace of change in digital culture.   He concludes with the hope that at least some simple form of crap detection finds its way into K-12 classrooms.  And he shares the additional hope and belief that knowledge and know-how can spread through online networks as swiftly as well as pervasively as a viral video.

Though Rheingold doesn’t actually mention it, his hopes validate our mission.

Also on my night table:

mobrule 150x150 On Rheingolds essential book and a couple others not to missBoulle, Michelle.  Mob Rule Learning: Camps, Unconferences, and Trashing the Talking Head. Medford, NJ: Information Today, 2011.

This first major explanation of how the unconference movement is changing the way professionals network, learn, and grow. Boulle examines the drawbacks of traditional conferences, and makes the case for taking the power away from the talking heads and valuing collective intelligence.  She shares strategies for planning and executing successful camps, presents case studies, and applies the new unconference philosophies to the classroom.  This is an important book that will help us spread word of important options for professional development in our schools.

ucontent On Rheingolds essential book and a couple others not to missTomaiuolo, Nicholas G. UContent: The Information Professional’s Guide to User-Generated Content. Medford, NJ: Information Today, 2012.

UContent offers librarians quick professional development on a movement that has forever transformed how we search for and use Web content.   Tomaiulolo covers such timely topics as blogs, wikis, self-publishing, citizen journalism, tagging, folksonomies, social bookmarking, cybercartography, and custom search engines.  This is a primer for new and retooling librarians on mining, participating and teaching about participation in new information landscapes. The author promises to update his moving-target content with a website.

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Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is the teacher-librarian at Springfield Township High School, a technology writer, and a blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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