ISBN 9780738208619 Published Oct. 2003
Basic Books (AZ)
See all formats
Posted March 27, 2012 12:00 p.m. by dylan
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
Regular readers of this blog know that we're very interested (or at least I'm very interested) in how the internet is changing not only how we socialize, shop, and work, but how we think and function as human beings—individually, culturally, and as a society. Going back to 2007 when Andrew Keen's Cult of the Amateur went up against David Weinberger's Everything Is Miscellaneous, and continuing through last year when Nicholas Carr's The Shallows was released around the time of Clay Shirky's Cognitive Surplus, we've been fortunate that publishers have put out books by great thinkers that take opposing sides of the issue that we can compare and contrast. It always sparks a lively conversation.
Net Smart: How to Thrive Online, doesn't take sides in the debate. It is a book about overall digital literacy and the skills necessary to navigate our increasingly digital world, and he covers a lot of ground—from mastering personal attention to crap detection 101 ("How to Find What you Need to Know, and How to Decide If It's True"), from mastering participatory skills and using collective intelligence to the uses and limitations of social networks and how to use all of this to make you smarter individually, Rheingold has really got it covered. He is also both practical and prophetic (a rare combination) and the book is written for everyone—both in its philosophy and implementation. The philosophy of the book keeps it interesting, the tools he provides keep it immediately relevant and applicable.
First up, as to not scare you away, I'll give you a taste of the practical side:
Who Needs to Read This Book, and Why?
- Adults who are Adept at using online tools and networks, but face challenges of time and attention management, and seek a balance between their physical and virtual environments
- Intelligent but perhaps less knowledgeable and fearful and fearful parents of young people who are going online for the first time, or spending more and more time online
- Young people who are immersed in the digital "hanging out, messing around, and geeking out" online that is such an important part of youth culture today, but are ready to learn deeper, broader ways of using social media productively and collaboratively
- People who are old enough to remember the world before it was webbed, and are simultaneously puzzled, attracted, and fearful about new media
- Businesspeople who want their employees to be net smart with each other inside their enterprise as well as social media literate when dealing with customers—net smarts within enterprises are different from social marketing competencies
- Educators who want to help students connect old and and new
While we're waiting for research to provide more definitive evidence about what our media practices are really dong to our minds and social relationships, I think we can all benefit from adopting some of the rules of thumb discovered by mindful digital media users.
In that last sentence is the key to the overall philosophy of the book—mindfulness. Rheingold explains how the way we use technology in its infancy shapes the development and implementation of that technology and, therefore, the course of humanity itself. So it's incumbent upon us to use emerging technologies as mindfully as possible.
Pontificating on the present moment and how it fits into the long arch of history, he writes:
I don't believe that technology itself, a fixed human nature, or the powers that be wholly determine who ends up in control and who ends up being controlled by others when a communication medium is adopted. But I recognize that that powers eventually emerge that try to close gates, meter resources, and lock down liberties. I'm enough of an optimist to persist in believing that this hasn't happened quite yet, despite real advances in the direction of control by governments and corporations around the world. Right now (and for a limited time), we who use the Web have an opportunity to wield the architecture of participation to defend our freedom to create and consume digital media according to our own agendas. Or by not acting in our own interests, we can let others shape the future.
If I am correct that informed actions might still influence the outcome, declaring that technology is alone will solve social problems caused by the use of technology is dangerously naive; at the same time, it is dangerously nihilistic to dismiss all the mental and social tools that microchips make possible as irredeemably destructive. People's actions influenced the ways print media shaped the cultural evolution of the past five hundred years. The early users of the telephone insisted on using it to socialize, not as the broadcast medium envisioned by the first telephone companies. Just as people in previous eras appropriated printing presses and telephones in was that the inventors and vendors of the enabling technologies never imagined, the shape of the social, economic, political, and mental infosphere now emerging from the combination of inexpensive computers, mobile communication devices, and global digital networks is not yet fully hardened, and thus can still be influenced by the actions of literate populations. We're in a period where the cutting edge of change has moved from the technology to the literacies made possible by the technology.
Five hundred years ago, Gutenberg presses did not immediately enable people to overthrow monarchies, drive the Protestant Reformation, and invent science as a collective enterprise. The interval between the technological advance of print and the social revolutions it triggered was required for literacy to spread. Print, a technology that leverages the power of the human mind by making possible mass distribution of written documents, required decades for the intellectual skill of decoding those printed pages to spread through populations. The sheer scarcity of painstakingly crafted manuscripts (the word manuscript literally means "written by hand") had constrained literacy for thousands of years. Thirty thousand pen-and-ink books existed in Europe in Johannes Gutenberg's lifetime, but more than ten million printed books became available within fifty years of his invention. The sudden abundance of printed material meant that the mental know-how that had been reservedfor elites for millenia abruptly became available to anybody who was able to put in the effort to learn to read. For decades and centuries after Gutenberg, newly literate populations began to learn what to do with the new media of their time, and then they started to foment the Reformation, institute political self-governance, and systematize the discovery of knowledge.
Digital literacies can leverage the Web's architecture of participation, just as the spread of reading skills amplified collective intelligence five centuries ago. Today's digital literacies can make the difference between being empowered or manipulated, serene or frenetic. Most important, as people who are trying to get along day to day in a hyperscale, warp-speed civilization that seems so often to be beyond anyone's control, digital literacy is something powerful we can learn as well as exercise for ourselves and each other. [...]
When enough people become proficient at these skills, then healthy new economies, politics, societies, and cultures can emerge. If these literacies do not spread through the population, we could end up drowning ourselves in torrents of misinformation, disinformation, advertising, spam, porn, noise, and trivia.
That may be too black and white, and being a professor, Rheingold probably uses a few more words than he really needs to (check out the length of these excerpts compared to the ones we usually post), but he has a lot to teach us, knows how to do so, and his professorial tangents entertain as they educate. As someone who often struggles getting comfortable with how digital technology and media fits into my life, this is a great read, a welcome resource and an important addition to the growing number of books on my shelf about the internet and the human condition.
Branding Unbound by Rick Mathieson - Part VI
Posted Sept. 16, 2005 4:37 a.m. by 800-ceo-read
In Excerpts and Essays - 800 CEO Read Blog
Howard Rheingold: The Mobile Net's New "Mob" Mentality
Howard Rheingold knows a revolution when he sees one. In 1993, he wrote The Virtual Community before most people had ever even ventured onto the Internet. And in his landmark book Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, he explored the outer fringes of the mobile Web, and how its creating new bonds between human beings-for better and for worse.
Writing for the online tech community The Feature, and his Smart Mobs blog, Rheingold continues this exploration of how mobile technologies are reshaping the social, political, and economic landscape worldwide. He says smart mobs represent a fundamentally new form of social connectivity that will empower the "mobile many" to have fun and do both good and evil in the decade ahead.
RICK MATHIESON: Why makes smart mobbing such a powerful social force?
HOWARD RHEINGOLD: People all over the world are beginning to discover that they can use coordinative technologies--the mobile phone, the Internet-to coordinate face-to-face activities. On the more privileged social side of the spectrum, we have the "flash mob" phenomenon. A lot of people say, well, 'Geez, theres no purpose for that.' I say, 'Whats the purpose of standing in line buying a ticket and sitting in a stadium with 100,000 people to watch men in tight pants kick a ball around?' Its entertainment. Whats interesting about flash mobs is that its self-organized entertainment. Youre not standing in line buying a ticket and having someone elses prepackaged entertainment sent to you.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have the president of Korea elected by a combination of a "citizen reporter" Web site, AllmyNews.com, and people using e-mail and text messages to coordinate get-out-the-vote efforts. When they put a call out literally during the election that their candidate was losing in the exit polls, they got out to vote and hit that election. In Spain, there was the terrorist bombing, and the elections several days later, in which there were official government-organized demonstrations followed by self-organized demonstrations. They were organized by SMS and may well have tipped that election.
And in the United States, we saw the [Howard] Dean [presidential] campaign using his blog and Meetup.com to organize. At one point he was bringing in $50,000 a day in small contributions, and 140,000 people at house parties were actively promoting him. And although Dean did not get the [nomination], this ultimately is going to change the way politics is run in the Unites States.
So, clearly something is happening worldwide; its at the level of many people organizing some urban entertainment. And its at the level of deciding whos going to be president of a country. And that threshold for collective action is lowered by the merger of the mobile telephone, the PC, and the Internet.
RM: How will the next wave of multimedia, mobile broadband networks, and location-aware technologies impact the dynamics of smart mobbing?
HR: Hiptop Nation is the first example of something that can evolve. Hiptop Nation is a combination of picture phones and blogging-people sending small, low-res photographs and a few words from their wireless device through a Web site. And that will evolve as these new technologies evolve.
Moblogging is a really interesting example of people, spread out all over the world, using mobile devices and the Web to get information out. It may seem frivolous, but it illustrates how mobile technologies can change how we view time, the way we navigate our cities, and how we collaborate with other groups of people. I think both blogging and picture phones are very powerful phenomena in
themselves, but when you combine the ability of anyone on the street to send media from where they are to anyone else in the world through the Web, I think it portends significant changes, though its rudimentary today.
Add in GPS [and other] location capabilities that let you know where your buddies are, or how to get wherever it is youre going, and that will enhance this revolution significantly.
And, in connection with that, the ability to add presence [awareness], presence being like your buddy list on Instant Messenger, so you know who is in the neighborhood now, will be huge. Were seeing some experiments with that, not necessarily from the big companies, but from small experimenters like Dodgeball. So, thats going to make a huge difference. Its hard to tell at this point whether this is going to grow from grassroots efforts like Dodgeball, or whether some [cellular service carriers] are going to get the clue and start offering that, too.
RM: What does this all mean for marketers?
HR: Anybody that has bought anything on eBay knows how reputation systems work. Before you buy something, you want to know whether to trust the seller. Online, mobile or otherwise, you can go find out what people who have bought things from that person before are saying.
Imagine the whole notion of information on places: location blogging where you subscribe to a group or service to see what kind of information they have on real places, 'This restaurant is no good,' or, 'This is my favorite bookstore.' One of the first applications Ive seen is for speed traps. Someone notices a speed trap, and then sends a notice, or it pops up on [an online] map, for everyone else to see. Im sure that law enforcement is not happy about that, but thats an example of the kinds of things that people come up with.
Likewise, the manufacturers of mass products are not going to be able to hide for very long if people are talking amongst each other about them.
Which brings me to yet another aspect of this, which is being able to use your mobile device to point at the bar code or RFID tag on a manufactured product and find out all kinds of things-from what kinds of ingredients are in there that arent on the label, or a Webcam at the factory where teenagers are assembling your sneakers in Pakistan, or what either the Moral Majority or the ACLU has to say about the politics of this company. That could tip power to consumers and clear the way for the kind of economic smart mobbing that would create very significant changes, if that happens.
A friend of mine whos a Microsoft researcher has put together a handheld wireless device with a bar code reader and connected it to Google.
I was able to go into his kitchen, scan a box of prunes, and see that it was distributed by the Sun-Diamond Growers Cooperative. You Google Sun-Diamond, and you find "U.S. versus Sun-Diamond," [an article] on the U.S. Supreme Court looking at questionable lobbying practices. You will see a partisan site called corpwatch.org with their headline to the effect of "Bromide Barons Suppress Democratic Process." Youre not going to find this out in the label, but Sun-Diamond is [allegedly] the largest contributor to lobbying against control of the chemical methyl bromide. Sun-Diamond is not going to tell you that. But if you Google it, if you connect that ability to find that information out there to your ability to scan something in real time, that changes a lot.
RM: So how can companies embrace smart mobs and use them to have a positive impact on their business?
HR: Any business that cant keep in touch with business makers, key people, and customers when they need to is going to fall behind. Were seeing that people who cant be interrupted by phone calls can be reached by SMS or instant messaging, and that groups are able to coordinate their activities at all times anywhere around the globe.
When your buddy list is an executive team or an engineering team that is split up around the world, to react to the conditions very quickly, being able to not just talk, but know when the others are online, send them text, send them rich messages, and send them documents, in real time, is pretty important. And it will make all the difference in a competitive situation.
From a marketing perspective, I think this is the very opposite of some small group deciding whos going to be marketed to. Many communities are, for the most part, self-organized. So, I think youre not going to get that smart mob power unless you have something that really moves a lot of people to go out and self-organize. Its like how AOL tried to build a top-down Internet with their little 'walled garden of Web sites. Thats not the same as having millions of people put up their own Web pages and link to each other, and create 4 billion Web pages in 2,000 days. Its about harnessing the power of collective action that enables anybody to act in a way that adds up, not organizing something from the top down and trying to broadcast it. There are some things you just cant do that way.
Branding Unbound by Rick Mathieson - Part V
Posted Sept. 16, 2005 4:12 a.m. by 800-ceo-read
In Excerpts and Essays - 800 CEO Read Blog
Tom Peters: The Gospel According to St. Peters
Part polemicist, part unabashed cheerleader, Tom Peters says the future of business will be driven by those who laugh in the face of todays play-it-safe corporate mind-set and fearlessly allow themselves to "screw up, think weird, and throw out the old business playbooks."
Of course, hes always had a sensationalist streak. With the success of his best-selling books, In Search of Excellence, The Brand You, and half-dozen others, Peters invented the manager-as-rock-star ethos of the 1980s, and the "Me, Inc." entrepreneurialism of the 1990s. The Los Angeles Times has called him "the father of the postmodern corporation." And today, companies pay the sixty-year-old rabble-rouser up to $50,000 for a one-hour speech in hopes of gleaning some secret to success in twenty-first-century business. In Peterss eyes, tomorrows increasingly messy and chaotic world belongs
to those who embrace "creative destruction"; nimble, creative innovators who go beyond the production of mere products and services to master the all-powerful customer experience.
RICK MATHIESON: One of your major themes is the power of disruptive technology. How do you think the emergence of mobile technologies and pervasive computing can best be put to use to enhance the way organizations operate?
TOM PETERS: The most important thing I can say is, 'I dont know.' And anybody who says they do know is an idiot,
and you may quote me on that. And what I mean by this is, I think the change is so profound, particularly relative to the extremely young men and extremely young women who will be peopling organizations ten years from now, that I think weve got to make the whole damn thing up anew. I refuse to consider that Im the genius who has mapped the path out.
I think Ive said some things that are not silly. But as Peter Drucker said, were still looking for the Copernicus of the New Organization. I quote a lot of people, like David Weinberger, who I adore, who wrote this book called Small Pieces Loosely Joined, and Howard Rheingold with Smart Mobs, and so on. I think that there are a whole lot of very smart people who are painting some very interesting pictures right now. But to say that somebody has painted the correct picture is a gross exaggeration, and it sure as hell isnt me.
RM: Some of your most exciting themes have always been around branding and creating memorable customer experiences. Today, when companies look at new technology, how should we move the discussion about technology from creating efficiency to creating experiencesthe value that technology can bring to your brand?
TP: Obviously, even though its technologically driven, Apple/Pixar has always created great experiences, albeit at
Look, were moving to a more and more ethereal society where the manufactured product is less significant than before. And as we continue to shift these very expensive jobs offshore, the question, the issue, the struggle is, "Whats left?" And presumably whats left increasingly is the very high valueadded stuff, and that value-added stuff is the stuff Steve Jobs has understood since the beginning of time.
RM: In your recent book, Re-Imagine: Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age, you write about your own tombstone and wanting to be remembered as "a player." What does that mean in the disruptive age when wireless is redefining just about everything?
TP: Im older than you are; thats the easy answer. People at sixty think about things that people who are significantly
less therein dont. Im almost in a sappy way taking advantage of my age here. But I think the big message is: This whole new technology thing-whether were talking Napster, whether were talking the Recording Industry of America, whether were talking wireless, whether were talking about war with terrorists-[means] were engaged in this exceptionally energetic process of redefinition, which will generate some number of winners, and lots of losers. And participation vigorously therein is what its all about.
I look at all the people who are sour, including Silicon Valley people who thought God put them on Earth to make $1 million by the age of twenty-six, if not $10 million, and I say, how cool to be part of this. I love some of those who have made a trillion dollars and some who are less well-known who have lost a trillion dollars, but were vigorously engaged in the fray. [Its all] about those in the fray at a time of truly dramatic change. Something quite exceptional is going down. In the best sense of the word-and not said with naivete or rose-colored glasses-its a very cool time to be alive.
New Book Excerpts!
Posted Sept. 14, 2005 9:12 a.m. by kate
In Marketing - 800 CEO Read Blog
Yesterday, I started posting excerpts from Rick Mathieson's recently published book Branding Unbound. The excerpts are from Mathieson's question and answer sessions with several leading business people.
Here is the line-up for the week:
Wednesday's Q&A: Mathieson interviews Don Peppers
Today's Q&A: Mathieson interviews Christopher Locke
Tomorrow is a double-header with two great interviews:
- Mathieson interviews Seth Godin
- Mathieson interviews Tom Peters
Finally, Friday's line-up includes:
Mathieson interviews Howard Rheingold