Chances are if you reading this you are already online (since I am publishing this on an Internet site.) And odds are good you are also active in some social networks, perhaps Facebook and/or Twitter.
Therefore, you may think you know how best to get around the Internet pretty well.
Or maybe you sometimes get overwhelmed by all the emails you receive or all the sites you try to visit each day and just get exhausted.
Whether you are new to the Internet, very familiar or anywhere in between I think you would benefit from reading the new book by Howard Rheingold, Net Smart: How To Thrive Online.
During his 30 years online Rheingold has been thinking and asking some of the more difficult questions about the meaning and impact of how we interact and live online. He coined the term "virtual community" and wrote a great book of the same name, in addition to several other good books you can learn more about at his Web page.
For the record, Howard and I belong to one of the same virtual communities. I consider him a colleague and a friend. But if his book sucked I would admit it and, fortunately, it does not.:)
Howard has a knack for looking at topics in new ways and he does that with this book. For example, we talk in the interview below about how the book stresses the importance of mindfulness and thinking about how you pay attention when online. I hadn't previously given those topics much thought but he makes a good case for why we should consider these matters.
He also stresses the importance, when online, of what he calls "online crap detection," writing, "Unless a great many people learn the basics of online crap detection, and begin applying their critical faculties en masse and soon, I fear for the Internet's future as a useful source of credible news, medical advice, financial information, educational resources, and scholarly as well as scientific research. Some critics argue that a tsunami of hogwash has already rendered the Web useless. I disagree. We are indeed inundated by online noise pollution, but the problem is soluble. The good stuff is out there, if you know how to find it and verify it. Basic information literacy, widely distributed, is the best protection for the knowledge commons; a sufficient portion of critical consumers among the online population can become a strong defense against the noise-death of the Internet."