Review: NET SMART – How to Thrive Online

5 Star, Communications, Consciousness & Social IQ, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Education (General), Information Operations, Information Society, Information Technology, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Intelligence (Public), Intelligence (Wealth of Networks), Misinformation & Propaganda
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Howard Rheingold

5.0 out of 5 stars Author is THE Path-Finder for Assisted Thinking,May 13, 2012

I first discovered Howard Rheingold through his book Tools for Thought: The History and Future of Mind-Expanding Technology. This led to my inviting him and with him, John Perry Barlow, to a conference in 1992, where over 600 intelligence professionals got to realize how far behind they were in relation to the art of the possible. We have stayed in touch over the years, and among his many other books, I also recommend as a prequel to this one, Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution.

Howard writes–and I read him–at multiple levels. Below I offer a couple of additional recommended readings for each level, with the assertion that you need this book in order to help your child learn what is not so obvious about the world–we can start with Google being math hacks on digital garbage.

Strategic. At the strategic level Howard sees the convergence of many minds connected and empowered by the Internet and related applications to create infinite wealth. He himself cites Yochai Benkler's The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom to which I would add Alvin Toffler's superb wrap up Revolutionary Wealth: How it will be created and how it will change our lives.

Operational. At the operational level Howard is easily on of the top practitioners of “who you know is what you know” and I know of no one who better melds the tools from the tactical level and the vision from the strategic level to achieve the personal and communal efficacy embodied in a “smart community.” This book is a blend of how to make the most of who you know, what applications you use, and how you apply your own mind to include being super alert to the fact that 80% of the Internet is garbage. At this level I would point to two books, the first by David Weinberger, Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room and the second by Tom Atlee, Empowering Public Wisdom: A Practical Vision of Citizen-Led Politics.

Tactical. At the tactical level this book is a graduate level text written for undergraduates. We can all learn from this, and it will take time to absorb the full value of this book. Having said that, I would also emphasize that this book is not a shopping list, nor is it a practical applications workbook. I strongly recommend Howard's various webinar offerings, I consider him the dean of the 21st century citizen intelligence analysts. Howard has been ahead of the curve in understanding that Twitter, not Facebook (and certainly not Google) is the bleeding edge of what he calls the Personal Learning Network (PLN) that is actually a network of people that curate on the go for one another. He identifies the Twitter-related functions of explore, search, follow, tune, feed, engage, inquire, and respond. IMPORTANT: This book has a website. That website provides resources including Howard's webinars and some info maps. It does not, to my disappointment, including a list of applications, but for that I recommend you search for < Howard Rheingold: 30+ Cool Content Creation Tools >. In terms of books, see Ran Hock's latest, The Extreme Searcher's Internet Handbook: A Guide for the Serious Searcher, just be sure to get the latest version, and also look online for Arno Reuser's Repertorium Bibliographicum.

Technical. Howard touches on Open Source Software across the book, but does not get into some of the pressing enablers that I and others have been addressing such as how to get to Open Source Everything from OpenBTS (Base Terminal Station) to Open Spectrum, so as to achieve an Autonomous Internet that cannot be shut down, and over time, my special interest, a citizens intelligence network that can overcome the lies constantly spewed forth by governments, corporations, media, even universities. I am worried that the Open Source Institute is not expanding fast enough to embrace and nurture all that is happening, for example in Open Source Hardware. This may come across as paradoxical, but at the technical level, I fear that we are not yet mature enough at “design” and also not mature enough at engaging one another. For that reason, the two books I recommend here are Harrison Owen's Open Space Technology: A User's Guide and Medard Gabel's Designing a World That Works for All: How the Youth of the World are Creating Real-World Solutions for the UN Millenium Development Goals and Beyond.

Anything by Howard is a treat. Like Stewart Brand before him, he is one of the mind-hackers and community-networking hackers that have been “root” for all that is now emergent and convergent. For my last authorized link, I am torn between the books on reflexive practice and a golden oldie that wins out, Buckminster Fuller's Ideas and Integrities: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure. Howard is easily a peer to the greats of the past and the greats of our time, and I consider this book, his latest contribution, to be a treasure.

Robert David STEELE Vivas

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