Early on in his article Why You Need Digital Know-How-Why We All Need It, Rhinegold states that his purpose is not to say that “Google is Making us Stupid” or that Twitter is making us impatient. He aims to convey to us that technology cannot control us.
Rhinegold believes that it is up to the person behind the technology to decide who is in controlled and who is being controlled. He states, “Digital literacies can leverage the Web’s architecture of participation, just as the spread of reading skills amplified collective intelligence five centuries ago.” In other words, it’s not what we’re given that will move us forward as a society, but how we use it. If people were not literate five centuries ago, they would not have been able to overthrow monarchies; similarly, if we’re not digitally literate today, we don’t have the ability to make vast changes in our lives. Rhinegold takes the perspective that many people are digitally literate today. But what he would like to share with us is how to use the Web to our benefit rather than have the Web consume us.
The Web consuming us is one of the worst potential things that could happen to us as a society. But, I agree with Rhinegold’s stance when he writes, “They (young bloggers) seek, adopt, appropriate, and invent ways to participate in cultural production.” This holds true in relation to my life as a young Web user. There are so many ways to let The Web consume you as a user, but there are so many more ways to use it to your benefit.
Being a part of participatory culture allows members of this culture to be a part of extraordinary things that could never exist without the presence of digital literacy. As I was reading Rhinegold’s piece, LinkedIn, Twitter and a plethora of other sites came to mind. Without being digitally literate and participating in my participatory culture, I would be missing out on so many social, emotional and professional opportunities that exist in this realm of technology. Many of my past jobs and professional connections that sprouted through using the Web. I have had great professional success with using Care.com for childcare, LinkedIn for professional connections and sites like Aesop for substitute teaching positions.
I really enjoy Rhinegold’s stance on emergent technologies. I think he speaks to a naive audience of young media users like myself and wants to inform us that the Web is… good! In fact, the Web is great. But, we need to pay attention to paying attention to the world that surrounds us. As Rhinegold calls it, “The literacy of attention.” I see so many benefits to living in this participatory culture and I hope to continue to learn more ways to use it to my benefit.