Are we thriving online?

Our first Net Mirror conversation was insightful, and I am glad we had a chance to open up our class discussion with some basic #freewrite questions: -How do you use the internet?  Sketch a day-in-your-life with the internet. -Are you a digital citizen? In what ways? -Define the idea of digital citizenship (in your own terms). Our early reflections on these “opener’ questions might serve as our “baseline” when thinking about our overall perspective of “life online”.

Tool time

We also spent a little bit of tutorial time with Prof. Levine, who opened up the world of a bit more by guiding us to think about the social reading and collaboration extra-textual layer of conversation and insight that is possible to build together in this class journey as we work through the selected weekly material. He also gave some tips for our blogging interface here. Please remember that if you have questions that come up, you can always reach out to either of us for guidance with the digital tools we are using throughout the course.

Opening thoughts on Digital Citizenship

We had a lot to cover in such a short time, but we did touch upon the two opening readings briefly. Maha Bali’s article came up in our conversation (Critical Digital Citizenship: Promoting Empathy and Social Justice Online ), especially when emphasizing the important point that digital citizenship augments our embodied citizenship, and this can be constrained or limited by our individual circumstances and/or our safety concerns. Maha points out a critical concern about this notion of a shared digital citizenship that we must always keep in mind as we move our conversations forward – “It is tempting, but dangerous, to imagine this virtual space as “one.” We are not all equal in that space.”

We also gleaned insight from the Hintz, Dencik, & Wahl-Jorgensen article (Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society) which suggested that digital citizenship is typically defined through people’s actions rather than any formal status of belonging to a nation-state and the responsibilities that come with that. Digital citizens “perform” their role in society. And we tagged the notion of “sousveillance” as an important concept as we move forward in Net Mirror. Sousveillance practices turn surveillance on its head – they are practices by digital citizens who choose to watch the authorities and expose wrongdoing.

What is the plan for the next class?

We will kick off our presentation series with Dylan taking the lead. He will be walking us through some of Howard Rheingold‘s 2016 book “Net Smart“:

Mindful use of digital media means thinking about what we are doing, cultivating an ongoing inner inquiry into how we want to spend our time. I outline five fundamental digital literacies, online skills that will help us do this: attention, participation, collaboration, critical consumption of information (or “crap detection”), and network smarts. I explain how attention works, and how we can use our attention to focus on the tiny relevant portion of the incoming tsunami of information. I describe the quality of participation that empowers the best of the bloggers, netizens, tweeters, and other online community participants; I examine how successful online collaborative enterprises contribute new knowledge to the world in new ways; and I present a lesson on networks and network building.

There is a bigger social issue at work in digital literacy, one that goes beyond personal empowerment. If we combine our efforts wisely, it could produce a more thoughtful society: countless small acts like publishing a Web page or sharing a link could add up to a public good that enriches everybody.

For the second part of class next week Howard will join us for a “Studio Visit”. The esteemed scholar and artist will join us in the Net Mirror, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity and time to talk to him about “how to thrive online”. I imagine we can ask him about his perspective on being “net smart” in the here-and-now (four or five years has passed since his book was published). I wonder what Howard thinks about being “net smart” in the age of data surveillance, etc.

Your “to-do” list:

1. Be sure to post your Map of the Internet into the make bank!

2. Please read:

Selections from Net Smart: How to Thrive Online by Howard Rheingold.  MIT Press, 2014:

Chapter 1 “Attention! Why and How to Control Your Mind’s Most Powerful Instrument” (pgs. 35-70);

Chapter 3 “Participation Power” (pgs. 111-133; 141-146).

**If you are interested, there is more material from Howard’s book here: Chapters 1 & 2, 3, 4, & 5

3. Please write your first reflective blog on the above reading, and feel free to also include any reflections on our opening night discussion, the internet map you drew, etc.

Looking forward to our next Net Mirror gathering!

Dr. Zamora

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