Monday, November 9, 2015

Net Smart: How to Thrive Online

_Net Smart:  How to Thrive Online_ by Howard Rheingold
Cambridge, MA:  MIT Press, 2012
ISBN 978-0-262-01745-9

(4)  Literacy now means skill plus social competency in using that skill collaboratively.

(16)  When today's infants grow up, they will be amazed that their parents' generation could ever get lost, not be in touch wiht everyone they know at all times, and get answers out of the air for any question.

(18)  Participatory media are social media whose value and power derives from the active participation of many people.  This value derives not just from the size of the audience but also from people's power to link to each other, to form a public as well as a market.

(19)  Another recent Pew study found that more than 50 percent of today's teenagers have created as well as consumed digital media.

(20)  Starting with the Web's invention (which its creator refused to patent and insisted on giving to the public domain), and continuing with efforts such as the South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog, some significant online social behavior suggests that in addition to financial compensation and other forms of naked self-interest, people do things together for fun, mutual enrichment, the love of a challenge, out of compassion, and because we sometimes enjoy working with others to make something beneficial to everybody.

(22)  All these superheroes of cybercollaboration knew a few simple things that the rest of us can benefit from learning about, such as how to:
Create a variety of ways to contribute and give volunteers attractive roles
Enable self-election where people choose what it is they want to work on
Give participants platforms to work on together for mutual interest
Acknowledge contributors
Make decision making transparent (if not necessarily democratic)

(24)  Today, _how you know who you know_ matters as much as who you know, and one of the most valuable traits a person could have in a twenty-first-century organization is a knack for knowing "who knows who knows what."

(29)  As [Alan] Kay famously noted, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it"… 

(38)  Oversimplification number one:  attention, memory, and executive control are the fundamental components of thinking - and the executive control process is the particular power you can tap to control your use of social media.

(39)  The part of your brain that you use to retrieve memories and keep information in your working memory is referred to as the "executive control" or "cognitive control" function.

(40)  Our senses are receiving an estimated eleven million bits of information per second, while we are conscious of only forty….

The discovery of "mirror neurons" in primates strongly implies that paying attention to others is one of the few human cognitive capabilities that may be neurally "hardwired".
NB:  Autistics and mirror neurons?

(41)  When it comes to interacting with the world of always-on info, the fundamental skill, on which other essential skills depend, is the ability to deal with distraction without filtering out opportunity.

(42)  What do you move when you shift your attention?

(45)  [Linda] Stone grew even more intensely interested when others reported that they, too, sometimes held their breath while reading or writing email - a phenomenon that she started calling "email apnea."  She told me that she came to realize that "breathing is the regulator of attention."  Stone reminded me that holding one's breath is directly connected to the "fight or flight" response…

Stone remarked that regular breathing patterns, by contrast, activate the parasympathetic nervous system, causing relaxation, the release of digestive enzymes, and a sense of satiety - signs of a "rest and digest" mode.  She pointed out that "we're putting our bodies in a state of almost constant low-level fight-or-flight.

(47)  A range of experiments has shown that the hormone dopamine does indeed appear to be associated with a reward for "seeking" behavior.

(58)  Stone reminded me that "intention is the fuel for attention."  Intention and setting goals are different, she told me, because "a goal is outside and in the future, but an intention is inside you and very present.  And when does behavior change?  It changes in the present."

(63)  [Lester] Fehmi's open focus is a good descriptor of a kind of attention that is not directing itself at a single, task, or maintaining a narrative linking multiple perceptions, thoughts, plans, goals, and memories, but that is continuously awake and alert to itself in the present.

(67)  The narrative network is what is most active when your mind drifts into plans and memories during meditation.  The direct experience network is what is most active when you keep your attention on your breath;  it is probably the one that is active when an athlete is in the zone.

(86)  When investigating a topic, I often add the words "critique" or "criticism" to my search query in order to find contrary or skeptical opinions.

(94)  Like it or not, journalism is becoming something more akin to a network than a guild.

(96)'s community votes on stories in order for its aggregate judgments to identify opinion disguised as fact, and reflect the degree of political bias detected in stories from both teh Left and Right. is an online community of reviewers (around twenty-two thousand as of this writing) who use a set of review tools devised by veteran journalists.

(103)  I also use, a service that turns all the URLS tweeted by all the people I follow (or lists of people I designate as knowledgeable about specific topics) into a daily newspaper with headlines, snippets, video, and slides….

Similarly, puts together custom "newspapers" about specified content….

Search and RSS can be combined.  Click on "advanced search" on the home page of Google News or Yahoo! News, perform a search, and then subscribe to that search, so that any time one of the tens of thousands of news publications around the world indexed by those services publishes the set of words specified in your search in the future, it will show up in your aggregator. Set up a Google alert, and have it delivered as a "feed"….

I currently use the Netvibes RSS reader because it provides three levels of organization that I can sync with my mental priorities.

(105)  [Clay] Shirky labels this emerging system that combines digital aggregation with human opinions "algorithmic authority."  He defines algorithmic authority as "the decision to regard as authoritative an unmanaged process of extracting value from diverse, untrustworthy sources, without any human standing beside the result saying 'Trust this because you trust me.'"
NB:  Track record

(112)  The Web, Wikipedia, open-source software, and even the notorious music file-sharing service Napster are all examples of this principle of "many people will cooperate if the medium makes it easy enough."

(119)  The activities that interest-driven groups engage in involve more serious learning and deeper involvement in the crafts of their subculture, generating more sophisticated and specialized roles, methods, products, and tools - what [Mimi] Ito refers to as the genre of "geeking out." [How to geek out on ecological restoration and 100% success for all humanity?] Thirty years ago, two of the people who created today's digital tools, Gates and Jobs, were exactly the kind of interest-based subculture fans Ito portrays, except their fringe subculture consisted of teenage enthusiasts who liked to geek out by building their own computers.  [NB:  maker culture]  Whether they are driven by friendship or interest, the young people across the United States who Ito's team studied, representing a broad demographic sample of the population, use media sharing and production as a form of social currency.  The communities they develop are based on creation, exchange, collaboration, and critique of media created by participants….

Fred Turner, Stanford professor as well as head of Stanford's program on science, technology, and society, claims that people like me both contribute to the commons and profit from it by being "network entrepreneurs."  By this, Turner means that we network entrepreneurs benefit in reputation and audience/public by giving our products freely to our networks, and that when we act to connect previously disparate networks, we put ourselves in a position to profit from the connection.

(126)  When you are trying to decide which one of a number of videos are of higher quality or are more useful than other similar ones, look at how much a video is shared - often a better measure of its relevance than the number of views.

(133)  Tag and search is more natural, more suited to the world, then categorize and pigeonhole.

When millions of people tag, categories emerge, and entities can easily be stored and found via multiple categories - an organizational form that has come to be known as "folksonomy."

(134)  Big corporations whose stock we don't necessarily own profit from our labor.  But is it labor?  Or is it play?  The blurring of that distinction has led some people to refer to this behavior as "playbor."
NB:  What is the economy of playbor? Shirky's love economy.

(149)  Infotention.  "Watch what I'm paying attention to" is the elementary particle of cooperation.

(151)  Punishing those who break the institution's rules is apparently essential to cultivating cooperation;  "altruistic punishment" may be the glue that holds societies together.

(152)  She [Elinor Ostrom] also observed that groups that are able to organize and govern their behavior successfully are marked by the following design principles:
1.  Group boundaries are clearly defined.
2.  Rules governing the use of collective goods are well matched to local needs and conditions.
3.  Most individuals affected by these rules can participate in modifying the rules.
4.  The right of community members to devise their own rules is respected by external authorities.
5.  A system for monitoring member's behavior exists; the community members themselves undertake this monitoring.
6.  A graduated system of sanctions is used.
7.  Community members have access to low-cost conflict resolution mechanisms.
8.  For common pool resources that are parts of larger systems:  appropriation, provision, monitoring, enforcement, conflict resolution, and governance activities are organized in multiple layers of nested enterprises.
NB:  Plus ecological design principles.

(153)  Wayne Macphail:  "You need coordination to dance, cooperation to dance with a partner, and collaboration to dance with a flash mob."

(153-154)  [Arthur] Himmelman's taxonomy:
1.  Networking is the simplest, with the least risk and commitment - such as handing out business cards, attending conferences, hanging out in a chat room, or commenting on a blog….
2.  Coordination means that all involved parties share information and agree to modify their activities for mutual benefit….
3.  Cooperation, as Himmelman defines it, is "exchanging information, modifying activities, and sharing resources for mutual benefit and to achieve a common purpose…"
4.  Collaboration is the most powerful means of collective action.  It uses networking, coordination, and cooperation as building blocks, adding to "exchanging information, modifying activities, etc.," the requirements of "enhancing the capacity of another for mutual benefit and to achieve a common purpose by sharing risks, resources, responsibilities, and rewards."

(161)  The [Climate CoLab] research team discovered that the group's collective IQs were _not_ correlated with the average IQ of the individual group members, nor with the score of the "smartest" person on the team.  The factors found to contribute to a group's collective IQ are the group's facility at taking turns in conversations, members' sensitivity to social cues, and the number of women on each team

(163)  Knowing the difference between a community and a network is as critical socially as crap detection is essential informationally.

(165)  Do those four things - know the territory, assume goodwill, jump in wherever you can add value, and reciprocate - and you'll succeed as a virtual community member.

(167)  Crowdsourced wealth is being created by amateur fashion designers as well as gold mine owners:  the one million online Threadless community members upload designs for T-shirts and vote on the best designs, and the weekly winners are manufactured and sold, sometimes bringing significant profits to the designers.

(171)  Emergency services are being crowdsourced by citizens:  CrisisWiki, an editable directory of disaster and emergency resources was inspired by HurricaneWiki and the South-East Asias Earthquake and Tsunami Blog.

(176)  Weber sketches "eight general principles that capture the essence of what people do in the open source process:  Make it interesting and make sure it happens… scratch an itch… minimize how many times you have to reinvent the wheel… solve problems through parallel work processes whenever possible… leverage the law of large numbers… document what you do… release early and release often… talk a lot."  "Make it interesting" resonates with McGonigal's design principle for epic games:  give people a "sense of awe and wonder" along with a lofty goal to work toward. 
NB:  Democracy - talking loud at the bus stop 

(179)  The four principles that the authors believe make collaborative consumption work mesh nicely with what we know about cooperation theories:  trust between strangers, belief in the commons, idling capacity (do you have a room that is not being used or an automobile that is not being driven at the moment?), and critical mass.
NB:  More democracy

(198)  Sarnoff's law is named after television pioneer David Sarnoff.  With a broadcast medium such as television or radio, the value of the network increases arithmetically_ with the number of receivers:  add more receivers, add that much more value.  Mertcalfe's law is named after Robert Metcalfe, creator of the Ethernet, a precursor to the Internet architecture, who declared that the value of a many-to-many network like an Ethernet or Internet increases even more quickly than that of a broadcast network, because adding nodes _multiplies_ the reach of each node.

(199)  [David] Reed told me that he started thinking about group=forming-networks (GFNs) when he wondered why eBay had become so successful:  "eBay won because it facilitated the formation of social groups around specific interests…."  I quoted my interview with Reed in my 2002 book, _Smart Mobs_:  "I saw the value of a GFN (group-forming network) grows even faster - much, much faster - than the networks where Metcalfe's Law holds true," Reed told me, drawing even steeper curves on napkin.  "Reed's Law," he continued, "shows that the value of the network grows proportionately not to the square of the users, but _exponentially_."

"That Sneaky Exponential:  Beyond Metcalfe's Law to the Power of Community Building" by David Reed:   There are really at least three categories of value that networks can provide:  the linear value of services aimed at individual users, the "square" value from facilitating transactions, and exponential value from facilitating group affiliations.

(201)  [David Reed]  "That is, in such networks, there is a small number of sources (publishers or makers) of content that every user selects from.  The sources compete for users based on the value of their content (published stories, published images, standardized consumer goods).  Where Metcalfe's Law dominates, transactions become central.  The stuff that is traded in transactions (be it email or voice mail, money, securities, contracted services, or whatnot) are king.  And where the GFN dominates, the central role is filled by jointly constructed value (such as specialized newsgroups, joint responses to RFPs, gossip, etc.)

Manuel Castells, _The Network Society_…
"Why Networks Matter", Castells's introduction to _Network Logic:  Who Governs in a Interconnected World?_ he lays out seven ways that technologically mediated social networks are transforming society.

First, these networks are global, and the worldwide transit time for information is nearly instantaneous, which Castells contends in the structural basis for globalization. Second, networked organizations outcompete command-and-control bureaucracies.  Third, the networking of civil and political institutions is the emergent response to the governance crisis of nation states. Fourth, networks of activists are reconstructing civil society at local and global levels.  Fifth, networked individualism, virtual communities, and smart mobs are redefining sociality.  Sixth, media space - the public space of our time - now encompasses the whole range of human social practices. Finally, "in this network society, power continues to be the fundamental structuring force of its shape and direction.  But power does not reside in institutions, not even int he state or in large corporations.  It is located in the networks that structure society."  

(204)  [Marc A] Smith, then a sociology graduate student at the university of California at Los Angeles, was able to answer my question about why people would give time, information and social support to others online, even if they didn't know the other people well.  "Social capital, knowledge capital, and communion," Smith answered - a terse explanation that has stood the test of time.

(207)  [Marc A] Smith:  "Don't fixate on the number of connections but on the quality of those connections and the diversity of your portfolio of connections.  It can be worthwhile to connect to less prominent, less highly linked individuals, if they are different from the people in your network…

Smith's "be a bridge" advice made such good sense that I asked him for more.  "Eigenvector centrality!" he replied, smiling at my baffled expression… Eigenvector centrality is an ingredient of Google's PageRank"… A link from a hub that has many inbound links itself adds to your authority.  "So - second piece of advice - get people to link to you.  LInks to you  are proxies for endorsement."

(208)  Most significant, in my opinion, is the way Wellman's [Toronto] NetLab has detailed the social consequences of a shift from a group-centric sociality to what Wellman calls networked individualism

(209)  A group is densely knit (most members knew each other) and tightly bounded (there aren't many connections to people who don't know everyone else), whereas a network is sparsely knit (most members do not know most other members) and loosely bounded (plenty of those small-world-making distant connections to people outside the core).

(211)  Because connections are to people and not to places, the technology affords shifting of work and community ties from linking people-in-places to linking people at any place….  The person, rather than the household or group, is the primary unit of connectivity.
"The Social Affordances of Networked Individualism" Barry Wellman, Anabel Quan-Haase, Jeffrey Boase, Wenhong Chen, Keith Hampton, Isabel Isla de Diaz, and Kakuko Miyata

(212)  The networked environment, proliferation of networked devices, ease of summoning our own networks with text messages and tweets, and way in which our media powers have shifted our social attention from groups to networks are a constellation of social transformations that Rainie and Wellman call "the triple revolution." The drivers of this revolution, according to Rainie and Wellman's forthcoming book, _Networked:  The New Social Operating System_, are the rise of the personal Internet, spread of powerful movie information and communication devices, and shift from groups to network as the primary focus of sociality.

(217)  "The evidence is extraordinarily clear on one subject.  The overwhelmingly direct cause of reciprocity is giving support in the first place."  Or as [Barry] Wellman put it in a lecture at the Clinton School of Public Service, "The most important criteria for getting help is helping somebody else.  If you want help in the future, help somebody now.  Pay it forward.  We have hard data on that."
NB:  Money buys happiness when you give it away:  Michael Norton at HBS

(219)  Like the diamond or graphite metaphor for network structures, social capital arises from the shape of ongoing relationships as wells the characteristics of individuals.  The two keys to that shape are networks of people who trust each other to some degree, and norms this people share that encourage both reciprocity and occasional uncompensated contribution to a commons….

[Robert] Putnam's team asserts that in civic communities, citizens are bound by horizontal relationships of reciprocity, rather than vertical relationships of authority and dependency.

(221)  Observing reciprocity is another norm that is important to the formation of social capital.  Reciprocating - paying back - can be specific (quid pro quo) or generalized (diffuse).  Diffuse reciprocity means you don't pay back only to individuals but also to the network or community.  Communities in which the norm of diffuse reciprocity is high can more efficiently restrain free riding and more easily resolve collective action problems.
NB:  More democracy

(222)  Bonding social capital refers to ties between people who share strong mutual contexts and invest relatively heavily in their relationship, such as strong-tie friendships, family, neighbors, and coworkers.  Bridging social capitals a function of weaker and more distant ties - again, between people who have more in common than not.  Linking social capital involves ties to people in dissimilar circumstances and communities, or the kind of ties that are necessary for small-world networks. Bonding capital increases feelings of solidarity, trust, and specific reciprocity.  Bridging social capital helps cliques to break out of their insular world views and bring in external information, and assist in diffusing information across multiple networks. "Bonding social capital consists of a kind of sociological superglue, whereas bridging social capital provides a sociological WD-40."

(223)  Add to "it's not what you know, it's who you know" the addendum that success also depends on "how different the people you know are from each other."

(223-224)  [Fred] Turner:  An entrepreneur may recognize different social worlds and might be a kind of peripheral member of different social worlds, but unless they have a place to bring those people together, those worlds never actually meet.  When they meet, they need to not only come together in some place.  They need to do something together.

(226)  One of the real masters of the PLN [Personal Learning Network] craft is Shelley Terrell, an educator of educators I discovered in my first search for social media classroom adepts. I ended up blogging about her for the MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media and Learning Web site,

(235)  Scalability:  The average blog has six readers.  Just because things might be public doesn't mean that they automatically will be read by all people across all space and all time.  What scales is variable and, often, it's what you least want that is most visible.

(239)  Mashable, a Web site that has proved to be a reliable source, claims to have an "always up-to-date guide to managing your Facebook privacy."

(248)  Use the search term "link:  http://..." (with your URL in place of the ellipses) to see every link to a specified page.
To check claims by any political faction, use….

The search engine DuckDuckGo claims to be able to help you break out of your search filter 

(258)  Douglas Engelbart, "Augmenting Human Intellect"

(265)  Richard McManus, "Detecting Bull:  How to Identify Bias and Junk Journalism in  Print, Broadcast, and on the Wild Web,"
Scott Rosenberg, "In the Context of Web Context:  How to Check Out Any Web Page," Wordyard Blog, September 14, 2010,

(270)  Robin Good (Luigi Canali de Rossi), "Real-time News Curation - The Complete Guide, Part 6:  The Tools Universe," MasterNewMedia, http://www.masternewmedia,org/real-time-news-curation-the-complete-guide-part-6-the-tools-universe

(272)  Mizuko Ito, Heather A Horst, Matteo Bittanti, danan boyd, Becky Herr-stephenson, Patricia G Lange, CJ Pascoe, and Laura Robinson, _Living and Learning with New Media:  Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project (Cambridge, MA:  MIT Press, 2009)

Ito Mizuko, "Amateur Cultural Productiona dn Peer-to-Peer Learning,"

(274)  Robin Good, "Real-time News Curation, Newsmastering, and Newsradars:  The Complete Guide, Parts 1-6," MasterNewMedai, September 7, 2010,

(286)  Pieter Boeder, "Habermas' Heritage:  The Future of the Public Sphere in the Network Society," First Monday 10, no.9 (September 2005),

Howard Rheingold, "Howard Rheingold's Public Sphere in the Internet Age Widget," Howard Rheingold's Posterous, February 6, 2009,

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