Network Literacy

Wikipedia (2015) defines Network Literacy as:
“Network literacy is an emerging digital literacy that deals with computer network knowledge and skills. It is linked to computer literacy and information literacy. Network literacy relates to the basic knowledge and skills required for citizens to participate in the networked society.”

McClure in 1994 defined network literacy as “the ability to identify, access, and use electronic information from the network” and argued that it is a critical skill for tomorrow’s citizens.

Fifteen years later Howard Rheingold expanded upon this in and explained that “understanding how networks work is an essential 21st century literacy..the structure and dynamics of networks influences political freedom, economic wealth creation, and participation in the creation of culture… [and] supports the freedom of network users to innovate.”

Between the three definitions, there are similarities, but the obvious development from McClure in the 90’s to Rheingold is the fact that it is no longer a skill of tomorrow’s citizens. It is in fact now an essential part of being an active member of society, because without it individuals will not be able to realise their potential, make a difference, innovate or participate. Network literacy, like digital literacy, forms part of the core 21st-century skills of being a global citizen.

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

Rheingold, H. (2011). Network Literacy Part One. Retrieved from

Wikipedia (2015). Network literacy, Retrieved from