I’m gearing up for Howard Rheingold’s course about Think-Know Tools and so I read his latest book, Mind Amplifier.
I’m starting to become a bit of a veteran in Rheingold courses, so I was not surprised to read about the notion of literacies, of designs for improved collective action and about metacognition. However, there were some parts which seem to indicate new developments.
I’ll give some quotes to illustrate this:
What if automated tutoring and testing systems, such as those being deployed for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), could be used for self-reflection on the learning process – a metacognition amplifier?
In his book Net Smart explains that metacognition is the function which helps us think about our thinking – it’s an important element helping us to gain control of our lives online.
Rheingold is not ‘only’ the guy who was the first to use the words ‘virtual community’. He has a deep interest in the history of computing, for instance his book Tools for Thought (text available online) is about the history of computers which he considers as being mind-amplifying technology.
Reading the old texts of the visionaries makes it obvious that there is a lot which has not yet been realized. Rheingold:
It’s time to consider what technology we want to create using the autocatalysis of human pattern recognition, human-machine abstraction, and computer graphics modeling capabilities.
Of course there is a very fundamental social dimension to all this. A last quote reflecting his thoughts about this:
When the human aptitude for mind-extension is plugged into specially designed computational mind-amplifiers and joined to one another through the many-to-many capabilities of networked media, new forms of social cognition begin to flourish.
One could imagine many ambitious research programs about all this. I’ll post about our proceedings during the course, which will start the next week.