Howard Rheingold on Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies

There is a great article  by Howard Rheingold up at EDUCAUSE focusing on 21s Century Literacies.

If you were the only person on earth who knew how to use a fishing rod, you would be tremendously empowered. If you were the only person on earth who knew how to read and write, you would be frustrated and empowered only in tiny ways, like writing notes to yourself. When it comes to social media, knowing how to post a video or download a podcast—technology-centric encoding and decoding skills—is not enough. Access to many media empowers only those who know how to use them. We need to go beyond skills and technologies. We need to think in terms of literacies. And we need to expand our thinking of digital skills or information literacies to include social media literacies.

Social media—networked digital media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and wikis—enable people to socialize, organize, learn, play, and engage in commerce. The part that makes social media social is that technical skills need to be exercised in concert with others: encoding, decoding, and community.

I focus on five social media literacies:

  • Attention
  • Participation
  • Collaboration
  • Network awareness
  • Critical consumption

Although I consider attention to be fundamental to all the other literacies, the one that links together all the others, and although it is the one I will spend the most time discussing in this article, none of these literacies live in isolation.1 They are interconnected. You need to learn how to exercise mindful deployment of your attention online if you are going to become a critical consumer of digital media; productive use of Twitter or YouTube requires knowledge of who your public is, how your participation meets their needs (and what you get in return), and how memes flow through networked publics. Ultimately, the most important fluency is not in mastering a particular literacy but in being able to put all five of these literacies together into a way of being in digital culture.

Crap Detection, A 21st Century Literacy

One of the 21st Century Literacies Howard Rheingold talks about is Crap Detection. Though I think the need for critical thinking or analysis has been around a long time, it has become increasingly important as Alan Shapiro demonstrates in his article, The Essential Skill of Crap Detecting

So how do you teach or learn this essential skill? Two librarians at Dominican University have put together this CRAP test

The CRAP test is a way to evaluate a source based on the following criteria: Currency, Reliability, Authority and Purpose/Point of View. Below are some questions to help you think about how to measure each of the criteria.

Currency

  • How recent is the information?
  • How recently has the website been updated?
  • Is it current enough for your topic?

Reliability –

  • What kind of information is included in the resource?
  • Is content of the resource primarily opinion? Is is balanced?
  • Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?

Authority

  • Who is the creator or author?
  • What are the credentials?
  • Who is the published or sponsor?
  • Are they reputable?
  • What is the publisher’s interest (if any) in this information?
  • Are there advertisements on the website?

Purpose/Point of View –

  • Is this fact or opinion?
  • Is it biased?
  • Is the creator/author trying to sell you something?

Learn More

“Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection.” a paper delivered by Neil Postman at the 1969 National Council of Teachers of English annual conference

Crap Detection 101 from Howard Rheingold

Watch this video

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Participation as Literacy

New Media Literacies for the 21st Century

[tweetmeme source=”librarianbyday” only_single=false] Howard Rheingold spoke at UC Berkeley Center for Health Leadership about New Media Literacies for the 21st Century. Though he was speaking to health professionals the message can be applied to everyone.

Twelve Year Old Adora Svitak on Digital Literacy

Howard Rheingold on Social Media, Participative Pedagogy, and Digital Literacies

[tweetmeme source=”librarianbyday” only_single=false]

I heard Howard Rheingold speak for the first time at Internet Librarian 2008. I wasn’t in Ohio for the CollabTech Summit his talk on Social Media, Particpative Pedagogy and Digital Literacies but thanks to the Internet and YouTube I can watch it now and so can you.

It is well worth the hour, go get a beverage and pen & paper for note taking and start watching.

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