Network literacy

Module 3.1 How do McClure and Rheingold’s views on network literacy differ? What do you see as having changed between these authors’ definitions of being ‘network literate’?

It is no surprise that McClure’s (1994) and Rheingold’s (Network literacy part one, part two, 2011) views of network literacy are different given that McClure’s words were penned nearly 20 years before Rheingold’s videos were recorded.

McClure acknowledges the importance of networks to conducting everyday transactions but does not recognise the value that the addition of nodes adds. In contrast, Rheingold notes that in social networks the addition of extra nodes adds extra value, not proportionally but exponentially.

I think that when McClure wrote it was impossible to imagine what today’s social networks would look like but that doesn’t make his advice inaccurate. It is indeed a vital twenty-first century skill to be able to “identify, access, and use electronic information from the network” and equally important in both the professional and personal lives of most people.

Rheingold places more importance on understanding how networks work whereas McClure emphasises knowledge and skills needed to use them.


McClure, C. R. (1994). Network literacy: A role for libraries? Information Technology and Libraries, 13(2), 115-125

Network Literacy Part One. (2011). Retrieved from

Network Literacy Part Two. (2011). Retrieved from