Friday, October 19, 2012

5 Essential online survival skills by Howard Rheingold

I bought the book by Howard Rheingold called Net Smart: how to thrive online. It is a guide to digital literacy. I haven't had time to read it yet though but next week is autumn holidays here in the Netherlands so I hope to have some time to read it then. Howard Rheingold is said to be one of the first community managers on the web and seems to be walking his talk, which is why I bought his book.

In the meantime I found a video with Howard Rheingold about the 21st century skills. It doesn't seem to embed so you have to link on the link if you want to see it. It is more than an hour long but very interesting with lots of examples.

Howard states that the online skills, the 21st century skills are no longer nice to have, but are essential survival skills. The 5 skills he mentions are:
  • Attention. With all available media and 'pling!' sounds everywhere it is much harder to focus your attention. I experienced it two days ago when I had to focus on finalizing a report, but kept on responding to mails, got a google chat and a skype call coming in. Later I closed everything. 1 in 6 Americans reports to have bumped into something because they were texting! The 'second screen' in the form of an ipad in front of you while watching television or being in a conference or training is already accepted. However, only 5% of people are really capable of multitasking - performing 2 tasks which require your attention. So the skill is how to divide your attention? How to focus?  We call this infotention, and you can learn how to do this.
  • Participation. If you know how to participate online, by smart blogging, tweeting, reacting, networking you can have more influence and even start movements. If you want to be a recognised expert is a certain field of expertise, you will have to learn how to curate content online. In the Netherlands we have seen the power of mobilising people online (in a negative sense) through the Project X in Haren. Wael Ghonim, is one of the activist of the revolution in Egypt who used social media very smartly. 
  • Collaboration. Gamers and patients with a specific disease already found out that you can easily collaborate online with people you have never met. For people in the Netherlands this is sometimes still a doubt, but in the US it seems much more accepted to collaborate with people who have never met in real life. For instance I am coaching a community manager in Washington whom I have never met. Wikipedia is ofcourse a nice example of online collaboration too.
  • Crap detection. Many websites are a hoax or nonsense. Rheingold provides the example of an online pregnancy test. With common sense you know it is impossible but there are still people who believe it. Teachers have been telling me that pupils may happily cite information from the website of McDonalds when asked about healthy food.The skill involved is how to know what is real and what is fake? What are trusted sources online?. 
  • Smart networking. It is important to build your personal learning network online with people who think differently. People who have a wider network make better decisions apparently. If you feel at some point that nobody is contradicting you, you may have a uniform network diminishing your own capacity to innovate.  
I have been wondering whether digital natives do already posses these skills? Come to think of it, I really doubt it. 

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