Why You Need Digital Know-How –Why We All Need It

By Howard Rheingold

We’re in a period where the cutting edge of change has moved from the technology to the literacies made possible by the technology.


The future of digital culture – yours, mine, and ours – depends on how well we learn to use the media that have infiltrated, amplified, distracted, enriched, and complicated our lives. I believe that learning to live mindfully in cyber culture is as impor­tant to us as a civilization as it is vital to you and me as individuals. 

The mindful use of digital media doesn’t happen automatically. Thinking about what you are doing and why you are doing it instead of going through the motions is fundamental to the defi­nition of mindful, whether you are de­ciding to follow someone on Twitter, shutting the lid of your laptop in class, looking up from your BlackBerry in a meeting, or consciously deciding which links not to click. Although edu­cational institutions have been slow to incorporate digital literacies, practi­cal know-how is available to those who figure out how to find it. This know-how, from the art of growing social capital in virtual communities to the craft of cultivating wiki collaboration, might determine whether life online will drive us to distraction, or augment and broaden our minds. Those who un­derstand the fundamentals of digital participation, online collaboration, in­formational credibility testing, and network awareness will be able to exert more control over their own fates than those who lack this lore.

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