for librarians, researchers and educators interested in information management

Developing digital literacy through mindfulness


I’ve had Howard Rheingold’s book Net Smart sitting on my bedside table for a while now, and have finally picked it up to read because – well, because it’s time I did.

Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed in relation to my digital activities – reading, writing, trying out new online tools, engaging in social media – to the point where I seem to be easily distracted by everything, unable to focus my attention on anything, and losing my judgment on what is useful for me or not.

I feel that there are some important things in this book that I want to learn, such as how to control my attention, filter out ‘noise’, make use of online tools without being overloaded, participate in a useful way to grow collective intelligence and collaborate via social media to create new knowledge.   As the book is a practical one full of evidence, advice and suggested practices, I’m looking forward to developing some of these digital literacies.

The book is about how to use social media “intelligently, humanely and above all, mindfully”.   Fundamental to being mindful is thinking about what you are doing, and why you are doing it – rather than just going through the motions.   Mindful digital media use can help us use our digital skills in socially competent and collaborative ways.

Developing digital mindfulness, according to Rheingold, involves an inner inquiry whereby you question your own communication practices, reflect on your reactions to different media and mediated social activities, and be conscious of of the significance of your activities in relation to what else is happening in the rest of your life.

“It’s easy to ask oneself, What do I think I should be doing right now? Answering it usually takes work. The process of trying to address the question in your own context is the working of learning digital mindfulness.” (p.8)

I’m hoping to share some of what I learn from the book in future blog posts.   But first, I need to create the space/ time to read it, free from distraction, with focused attention, mindfully.

If you are interested, the book’s introduction is available free for download.

Harold Rheingold. Net Smart: How to thrive online.  MIT Press, 2012.


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This entry was posted on July 8, 2013 by in books, social media.
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