High WATT Surfers?

Hang ten, baby!

The Internet evolves. In less than 20 years, from networked geeks in a Darpa dream to computing for the rest of us in a PostModern mashup, the Internet is not what it was and no one’s sure where it’s going. Everyone agrees, however, you need protection out there nowadays with all the threats whether from active malware, passive surveillance, or just plain wasting your life a click at a time. What’s the solution?

Rheingold addresses the need to be smarter about our use of networked technologies arising from the tensions between the Web as a distraction and as an essential part of life. As he puts it, “Since the early 1980s, however, the digital world along with the network of fascinating but potentially distracting links, videos, tweets, emails, wall posts, and wittily captioned photographs of cute cats has been both the seductive distraction and relevant knowledge flow that have competed for my mind.” He argues that being able to function efficiently in this welter of information requires five “literacies”: attention, crap detection, participation, collaboration, and network smarts.

You’ve got to like the Five Literacies of Attention, Crap Detection, Participation, Collaboration, and Network Smarts. Wear those like a pentagon-shaped tiara and you can surf the web safe, smart, and cool.

Except, aren’t all those virtues a facet of High WATTage? And, isn’t the persuasion point with the Internet feasting on all those Low WATT surfers? You see the problem. If you had the self control to go High WATT with every click, you wouldn’t need Rheingold’s pentagon tiara, but then what fun would you have while surfing?

I’m telling you, folks, WATTage is the key to human behavior.

James A. Hendler. (2012). To Flourish in the Online World.
Science 1 June 2012:
Vol. 336 no. 6085 pp. 1108-1109
DOI: 10.1126/science.1221298

Howard Rheingold. (2012). Net Smart How to Thrive Online
MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2012. 332 pp.
ISBN 9780262017459.