Essential technology skills

In an era of rapid technological change, it often feels impossible to keep up. Every year there are new devices and new ways of doing things. Even those of us who work in IT sometimes feel overwhelmed! But if you look at technology in a different way, focusing instead on what you do with the tools available rather than which tool you are using, it becomes a little easier to manage. Howard Rheingold, a social critic and writer respected for his perspective on technology, has a new book out that talks about how to thrive online. He outlines five literacies for the web that he believes are essential survival skills in the 21st century – attention, participation, collaboration, truth detection, and what he calls “network smarts.”

This article provides a brief overview of Rheingold’s recent talk at the MIT Media Lab about his new book “Net Smart: How to Thrive Online” (which will soon be available on our shelves). In it, he describes how once you move beyond criticisms of overuse of technology, whether on Facebook, Twitter, or video games, there are a lot of positives to be had in knowing the technology, using it, and participating in it. By digging a little deeper and using technology to actively achieve our intentions, rather than being distracted, we can all benefit and learn to survive and thrive in our new world. For those of you motivated enough, the article also contains a two-hour video recording of the talk he gave at the lab.

Here at Princeton Public Library, we always strive to educate you on the latest technology. If you haven’t attended a class lately, check out our summer Technology Center schedule. From classes on how to design presentations to introductory courses on computers, the Internet, and iPads, we have over 15 classes offered this summer which you can take advantage of. And even better, coming this fall through our partnership with the Princeton Technology Meetup we’ll be adding several classes on more advanced technology topics like game design, programming, and databases! Combining these technology skills with a better awareness of the five essential web literacies that Howard Rheingold outlines in his book is a surefire way to become a fully engaged and active participant in today’s digital world.

Image of cell phones from an IPC trade association blog post. Image of Howard Rheingold from the Nieman Journalism Lab website.

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