Digital Reviewer

NetSmart: How to Thrive Online

I haven’t read this book, and this review doesn’t encourage further reading – anyone else read it & thinks differently?

Howard Rheingold is a household name for anyone old enough to have been online in the 1980s. He was big on the WELL, or the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link, an influential early online community, and he has been at the forefront of digital criticism ever since.

But in the age of Twitter’s 140-character conversations, it seems ironic that Rheingold’s ideas on mindful digital literacy come packed in a conventional book of almost 300 paper pages. A more pointed irony is that the people who might benefit most from reading it are the ones who won’t bother to engage with it. The neat ideas are too hard to find if you don’t like reading pages and pages of text; the book’s look and feel is more like that of a novel – a few headings, but mostly runs of seamless paragraphs of text, broken with a few cartoon concept maps.

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