Network Literacy; McClure and Rheingold

McClure( 1994) and Rheingold (2012) both refer to ‘Network Literacy’ in their comments about the development and implications of the internet.  It is great to remember that these comment where made nearly twenty years apart from each other.

McClure was observing the start of a more networked society. His comments are quite simple in comparison to Rheingold’s who has had the opportunity to see the range of the internet grow. McClure focused on a person’s ability to retrieve, manipulate and use the information that they access from the internet.

Rheingold has too mentioned the importance of network literacies, and in particular social media literacies such as attention, participation, collaboration, network awareness and critical assumption (2010). In the videos about network literacy he focuses on the observations of social networks and social capital.  Rheingold and other academics have observed and created formulas that explain how the social value of networks has increased due to the way people can access and interact. This is due to the new tool, apps and infrastructure that have allowed people to form groups.  There has been a cultural and economic shift.

Social capital or as Rheingold describes it; is the ability for people and/ or groups of people to get things done without money or the involvement of an institution. The power of many versions of social media to help people to organise political groups and movements, to draw likeminded scientists together to solve medical research problems, students to form study groups which are accessible 24 hours a day. The possibilities are endless and exponential,  like Reed’s Law describes.