Networked: The New Social Operating System

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Daily life is connected life, its rhythms driven by endless email pings and responses, the chimes and beeps of continually arriving text messages, tweets and retweets, Facebook updates, pictures and videos to post and discuss. Our perpetual connectedness gives us endless opportunities to be part of the give-and-take of networking.

Some worry that this new environment makes us isolated and lonely. But in Networked, Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman show how the large, loosely knit social circles of networked individuals expand opportunities for learning, problem solving, decision making, and personal interaction. The new social operating system of "networked individualism" liberates us from the restrictions of tightly knit groups; it also requires us to develop networking skills and strategies, work on maintaining ties, and balance multiple overlapping networks. Rainie and Wellman outline the
"triple revolution" that has brought on this transformation: the rise of social networking, the capacity of the Internet to empower individuals, and the always-on connectivity of mobile devices. Drawing on extensive evidence, they examine how the move to networked individualism has expanded personal relationships beyond households and neighborhoods; transformed work into less hierarchical, more team-driven enterprises; encouraged individuals to create and share content; and changed the way people obtain information. Rainie and Wellman guide us through the challenges and opportunities of living in the evolving world of networked individuals.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rather than encouraging isolation, the authors propose, the Internet enables people to connect with each other to a far greater extent than before, Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, and Wellman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto, draw on anecdotes as well as an exhaustive array of surveys about people’s use of smartphones, social networks, and the Web in an attempt to prove that “people are not hooked on gadgets—they are hooked on each other.” The authors optimistically argue that the proliferation of online social networking “provides opportunities for people to thrive if they know how to maneuver in it”; they also give examples of people in crisis who benefited from online networks. While some of the authors’ conclusions might surprise technophobes—such as that people see friends more these days than in the past—the book unfortunately brims with studies that prove the obvious; at this point, it’s hardly news that people rely on their phones, search the Web for information about their co-workers, or turn to the Internet for financial information. (June)
Library Journal
Rainie (director, Internet & American Life Project, Pew Research Ctr.) and Wellman (S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology, Univ. of Toronto) are well suited to explore the inherent interconnectedness of modern-day digital society. They examine a shift toward what they call "networked individualism," in which a new system of social operation is at work connecting people in deeper and different ways. Rainie and Wellman argue that, rather than eroding traditional social connections, information and communication technologies, such as mobile connectivity, texting, and Facebook, are strengthening them in new ways. Using a combination of personal stories, qualitative and quantitative sociological studies, and the extensive data sets of the Pew Research Center, they present a compelling look at how society is shifting from being group- to network-oriented in arenas including relationships, family, and work, as well as information creation and dissemination. They offer a refreshingly positive exploration of our increasingly online world. VERDICT Recommended for social science buffs and those interested in the impact of virtual life on our collective reality.—Candice A. Kail, Columbia Univ. Libs., New York
From the Publisher
"Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman write a remarkably approachable, nuanced,and clear-written treatise on how social networks, the Internet, and mobile technology are changing the way we live our daily lives." — Ate Poorthuis, Journal of Regional Science
NPR Science - Shankar Vedantam
It's easy to find rigorous science, and it's easy to find topical stuff,but it's not easy to find both at the same time!
Vanessa P. Dennen
Networked provides an engaging and accessible overview of the ways in which social networks, the Internet, and mobile technologies have converged to affect everyday lives.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262017190
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 5/11/2012
  • Pages: 376
  • Sales rank: 1,204,694
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Lee Rainie is Director of the Pew Research Center's Internet &
American Life Project and former managing editor of U.S. News and World Report. Barry Wellman is the S. D. Clark Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, where he directs NetLab.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xi

I The Triple Revolution 1

1 The New Social Operating System of Networked Individualism 3

2 The Social Network Revolution 21

3 The Internet Revolution 59

4 The Mobile Revolution 81

Interlude: A Day in a Connected Life 109

II How Networked Individualism Works 115

5 Networked Relationships 117

6 Networked Families 147

7 Networked Work 171

8 Networked Creators 197

9 Networked Information 223

Interlude: The Conversation Never Ends 245

III How to Operate in a Networked World, Now and in the Future 253

10 Thriving as a Networked Individual 255

11 The Future of Networked Individualism 275

Notes 303

Index 351

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