How can we use digital media so that they help us become empowered participants rather than passive consumers? In Net Smart, I show how to use social media intelligently, humanely, and, above all, mindfully. Download the introductory chapter (PDF) here.
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.