#etmooc Literacies of Attention, Crap Detection, Participation, Collaboration, and Network Know-How

Alec Couros introduced Howard Rheingold.

As a sidebar, I am very jealous of all the books and bookshelves in Howard’s office/study/wherever he was presenting from. He even had a ladder. Sidebar over.

Below are my live notes. He talked fast and at the end ran out of time so went even faster so I don’t think I got everything. There is a recording though if you want to watch it. Any mistakes below are mine.

Also here is a permanent copy of the ethernote (just in case the original gets deleted at some point.)

Presenter: Howard Rheingold (@hrheingold)

Rule 1, he is interruptable at any time.

He developed some roles for those who want to participate:

  • Search Engine Jockey
  • Question wrangler
  • Lexicon team
  • Contextualizers
  • Mindmapping team
  • Etherpad

(I like how he broke apart the roles and then allowed people to participate as they wanted. A great way to build in interaction.)

Social media literacies includes mobile media, is it making our culture shallow? Why not teach people to swim and invite them to the deep end?

A way you use a search engine, update status matters to all of us, you and me as individuals and collective, because the way we use these media now shapes the media that will come.

How do you use social media humanely, intelligently? And above all, mindfully?

He went through scientific literature, drew on his experience, talked to people.  And he wrote a book titled Net Smart.

Today is a highlight of the most important literacies that social media requires of us.

Social Media Literacies = encoding/decoding and the ability to work in concert with others

  • Attention
  • Participation
  • Collaboration – from individual participation to group
  • Crap Detection – need to look at the way your attention and social media are co-evolving before moving onto the next step, participation
  • Network Know-how


  • the building block and main conduit for thought and communication and it challenges us
  • (shows a few frames of a video about a woman falling after running into something while texting)
  • 1 in 6 have bumped into something while texting per Pew Research
  • (image of him shooting video of his class at the beginning of the class)
  • one particular student was one of the most astute and “present” in the class even though his attention was on other things
  • Cliff Ness on media multitasking – definitive evidence that most multi media taskers are degrading their ability
  • But what about those who can handle multiple media streams? Was he just born that way? Or had he learned something that we could learn too?

Mindfulness (deliberately aware) = Metacognition (means the same thing)

  • infotention.com
  • when you try to train yourself on media usage, he calls it infotention: Cognitive
  • Making better, faster micro decisions:
    • ignore or attend?
    • open a tab for later?
    • tag & bookmark for much later?
  • Pay attention to those decisions, don’t do automatically and ask yourself why you are doing it. Get fast at it so it becomes automatic again but with mindfulness.
  • Can we teach supertasking? We need to know when/when not to multitask. Most of the time is to put off multitasking, sometimes looking at multiple things can help you see the bigger picture.

Match Spatial Arrangement of Screen with Attention Priorities

  • look at Net
  • highest level of abstraction: dashboards
  • second level: tabs
  • third level:feeds
  • forces you to determine what you have time to do that day

Make your goals visible daily

  • pay attention to what you want to get done that day. Sometimes its productivity, sometimes its learning.
  • at the beginning of the day, write down two or three things you want to get completed at your computer and put it in the periphery of your vision. Ask yourself “where am I” on completing these tasks? This begins a habit of attention.

Takeaways about Attention

Attention probes in the classroom

  • Ring a chime and have them write it down on a sticky. Yellow for on topic, red for not. Either is okay. Close their eyes and take a deep breath for a minute and see what is going on in their brains.
  • Count from 1 to 16 with each person calling out a number, no person call out a number more than once. If they pause for more than a second have to go back to 0. It’s easier to do with eyes closed (?).

Critical Consumption (crap detection)

His daughter was in middle school when search engines came of age. He realized that she could search on the internet (before google). He sat down with her and got online and they looked at stuff.

Do a search for Martin Luther King Jr. The third link down is martinlutherking.org. This gives a page that seems to be about the Martin Luther King Jr. but all the articles are rather negative.

They looked up the author. At the time, it did not have a name on it. Use Whois.com it will tell you who the owner is. This happened to be owned by a white supremacist group.

The authority of the text has been blown to pieces. We used to know that there was someone who checked the material. Now we can ask a question and immediately get a response but it is up to us to make sure it’s correct.

Free Online Pregnancy Test

put in name and it scans you. 🙂 (sorry I found that hysterical). Turns out “Jo” is preggers and it’s a girl! Most people at this point realize its a joke but the ad links are real.

And the famous “Save the Pacific Tree Octopus” example.

Think like a detective. Think like a reporter.

Search to learn. Go beyond the first page, first search, one search engine.

Look for authors, search for their names.

Triangulate. Real time events along with searching. Ex. Egypt shut down internet during uprising. He searched for the info but it was not to be found. Turns out Twitter was 40 minutes ahead. You must have more than one source that agree.

If nobody in your network annoys you, you are in an echo chamber. Have people in your network that you respect and don’t necessarily agree with.


We wouldn’t be here, on the web, with out participation.

Example 1: Heather Laver boycotted Warner Bros. got kids to boycott

Example 2: Bev Harris brought the info that the voting machines were not safe

Example 3: Gonim(?) involved in Egyptian uprising using social media during that time

Getting used to teens inventing new social technologies in their dorm rooms and getting wealthy in the process.

If you know how to participate, you wield a great deal of power: economical, cultural

Power Law of Participation (Ross Mayfield, 2006) – from “low threshold with tool” to high engagement with community”

Howard’s experience this is very descriptive of how it could work.

Focus on Curation. He likes teaching it because it has a low thresh hold but a gateway to using tools and collective intelligence.


  • have to do it for ourselves anyway
  • we can make a decision on what we think is good and share it with others
  • scratch an itch: you tag, bookmark, for yourself anyway
  • enhance your reputation as a domain expert
  • sends signals that attract like-minded potential collaborators – if you collect good information, then people who are searching for that information will find you
  • Cultivate social capital – networks of trust, norms of reciprocity – easily built by engaging with others through a social curation tool

Participatory Culture

Lots of ways to participate: podcasts, intelligent forum conversation, wikipedia editor, etc.

The amount of money used to advertise wall gardens is larger than that on teaching others how to do it for themselves.

  • Don’t just consume, create.
  • architectures of participation use self-interest to construct public goods.
  • curation is lightweight collective intelligence
  • learn norms & boundaries of local cultures before participating
  • crap-detect thyself before broadcasting questionable info


Smart Mobs is a way of collaboration. Chile students walked out of schools and walked the streets to get attention to raise awareness of getting money for schools.

Virtual Communities – whether you are a gamer or a cancer survivor you communicate with people on a regular basis around the world.

Swarm Computing – created a distributed computer network from people volunteering their computers for the network after they go to bed. Folding, another network, allows scientists to use computation power of people’s computers. Now a game, a team had discovered info that was important.

Crowdsourcing – Jim Gray was a computer scientist who went missing on the Pacific. His friends got the latest photos of the area and scientists divided it so that people on Turk could find the man in the photos. interesting they could do this with off the shelf parts.

Collective Intelligence – Lots of way

Cooperative Learning – the kind of thing we are doing here. Collaborative learning is about working together and communicating about that process. To cooperative learning, is a commitment to co-learn with others. I am a part of a community that is trying to make sense of a subject.

Harold’s TED Talk about collaboration

  • organisms cooperate as much as they compete
  • actions climb the curve of engagement
  • wide variety of ways to participate
  • enable self-election (scratching an itch)
  • people contribute to enhance reputation, learn, meet others, add to a public good
  • casual conversation builds trust

Network Awareness

Consists of a lot atoms of specific knowledge that are not difficult but been sequestered in different disciplines and those who bring them together will do better and do more for the commons because of it

Lots of little pieces of knowledge add up to how life works for the individual and for groups

Personal learning networks – part of this idea. Understanding Twitter literacy and to look into ways PLNs are grown and cultivated.

  • networks have structures that influence the way individuals and groups behave

Net(work) smart

  • diverse networks are collectively smarter
  • people who can bridge networks fill structural holes stand to benefit

Not so much about keeping up with technology, it’s about keeping up with the literacies.


1. Use the pomodoro technique to help switching between focuses.

2. Couros – how we move forward, or become perpetrators of faulty information? For example, fake or spoof videos that go viral but then spark off “real” situations.

Internet memes, a girl video blogger (lonelygirl15) was not really who she said she was. Catfish t.v. about tracking people down who are in deceptive relationships on Facebook. the categories of deception online could be a whole course. He shows them “Yesmen” who are spoof activists. There are people who debunk myths or not disclosing all information.

What Haubermaas(?) feared about in a democracy. He feared that PR people would be paid to distort information.

It’s a constant arms race and we lost this race a long time ago because we are easily manipulated. How much do people really know what’s going on? Deception is a big issue. Must attack credulity.

If people remain contributive and communicative, it may help win against the deception.


6 thoughts on “#etmooc Literacies of Attention, Crap Detection, Participation, Collaboration, and Network Know-How

  1. Pingback: #etmooc Literacies of Attention, Crap Detection, Participation, Collaboration, and Network Know-How | Web Tech News

  2. Hi April,
    Many thanks of this. Due to timezomnes and the inability to stay awake after midnight I miss most of etmooc live sessions, your notes were just the right length and depth to get me thinking. Live blogging is a tricky thing (related to storytelling perhaps ) this post is going to help me dig into the background reading and watch/listen to the archive.

    • I am happy to help and I enjoy live blogging. I had never really considered it storytelling, more like micro-journalism, but I suppose with all my side comments and personal notes, it takes on a narrative of its own. You’ve given me something to think about! Thank you. 🙂

  3. Pingback: #etmooc Literacies of Attention, Crap Detection, Participation, Collaboration, and Network Know-How | Buffy Hamilton's Unquiet Commonplace "Book" | Scoop.it

  4. Pingback: Synchronous Sessions, Asynchronously: Blending Meetings, Learning, and Digital Literacy « Building Creative Bridges

  5. Pingback: #etmooc Literacies of Attention, Crap Detection, Participation, Collaboration, and Network Know-How | The Other Literacies | Scoop.it

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s