Networked: The New Social Operating System
Daily Life is connected life, its rhythms driven by endless email pings and response, 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 or 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 neighbourhoods; 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.
Lee Rainie is Director of the Pew Research Centre’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.
Podcast interview about “Networked” with Lee Rainie and Ian Jacobs of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
Praise for the Book
“Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman have combined forces to become the new Marshall McLuhan! They draw on years of observation to weave the threads of the online and offline worlds into a deeply colored tapestry. We can see emergent social norms arising from their moving stories and insightful analyses.”
—Vint Cerf, Internet Pioneer
“Networked illuminates how search, social networking, and the always-on connectivity of mobile devices are combining to transform the social role of the internet. This book – by two leading authorities – should be required reading for understanding the internet, new media, and society.”
—William Dutton, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
“Just as I would not let my child loose in traffic before I taught her to look both ways, if it were up to me, nobody would be let loose online until they read Networked. From the stories of real people whose lives have been changed by their interactions with contemporary online social networks to the sociological and psychological theories that explain how life is really changing in the age of ‘networked individualism,’ this is a must-read manual for life online today.”
—Howard Rheingold, critic and author of Net Smart, Tools for Thought, The Virtual Community, and Smart Mobs
“The Pew Internet Project has earned respect and attention for its careful, systematic studies of the ways in which networked connectivity is changing longstanding patterns of human interaction. In Networked, the Project’s leader, Lee Rainie, and coauthor Barry Wellman explain what we know about technology’s impact on our lives, what we can see coming, and where the biggest surprises and uncertainties lie”
—James Fallows, national correspondent and technology analyst for The Atlantic
“From their rich history of research, Rainie and Wellman have assembled a cornucopia of facts and impacts about work, family, and life in the new era of ‘networked individualism.’ When the next person asks me to talk about the network implications of social media, this is the terrific book to which I will send them.”
—Ronald S. Burt, Professor of Sociology and Strategy, School of Business, University of Chicago; author of Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition
“We live in a networked society. This book explains why, how, and what, on the basis of empirical evidence and rigorous analysis. This well-documented, well-thought, clearly written book will become indispensable reading.”
—Manuel Castells, Wallis Annenberg Chair in Communication Technology and Society, University of Southern California
“Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman have woven three enormous changes in the ways we connect – the spread of the Internet, mobile tools, and social networks and media – into a single clarifying story of our present and future life in the 21st century.”
—Clay Shirky, author of Cognitive Surplus and Here Comes Everybody
“This must-read takes you into what is really happening with and through social networks in the digital age. No one knows more than Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman about the resources that flow through networks, and how our networked lives are shaped by modern technology. We navigate our social worlds as individuals with supportive networks, neither completely independent nor completely embedded in old-time villages. This readily accessible book presents compelling human stories that represent larger-scale phenomena.”
—Kenneth Frank, School of Education, Michigan State University
“Deftly slicing through hyperbole about technology changes, the volume’s authors bring us face-to-face with the wellspring of modern life: the networked individual. With flair, and a dash of wry humor, Rainie and Wellman provide keen insight about how the triple revolution affects all aspects of our increasingly digitalized lives. Anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the growing blend of social and digital worlds should read this book.”
—James E. Katz, Director, Center for Mobile Communication Studies, Rutgers University
The Internet in Everyday Life
Edited by Barry Wellman and Caroline Haythornthweait.
Oxford: Blackwell. November 2002. 588 pages. ISBN: 0-631-23508-6 Price: USD $27.95; Euros 20.36; Cdn $44.09; British Pounds £7.95
The Internet in Everyday Life brings together pioneering studies that systematically investigate how being online fits into everyday lives. Until now, the Internet has been treated and discussed as detached from daily life, occupying some separate sphere of social endeavor. This collection of original articles from leading scholars in North America, Asia, and Europe moves discussion of the Internet closer to home, showing how the Internet does not exist “out there” but is instead an integral part of daily work and home life. Contributors show who is on the Internet and what they are doing there. They debate whether the Internet adds to or detracts from the well being of individuals, communities, and societies. They demonstrate how the Internet affects friendship, social capital, social support, civic involvement, school, work, and shopping. They reveal the extent to which the Internet is supporting new forms of human relationships, and describe what gets dropped and strained when Internet hours are added to already full schedules. The book goes beyond speculation to provide solid findings. Surveys, interviews, and field observations inform analyses of behavior on and with the Internet. Taken as a whole, this body of evidence should raise the level of debate about the impact of the Internet and raises serious questions about the popular myth that Internet use increases social alienation.
Excerpts from the Editors’ Introduction, Caroline Haythornthwaite and Barry Wellman:
The Internet in Everyday Life is about the second age of the Internet as it descends from the firmament and becomes embedded in everyday life. The first age of the Internet was a bright light shining above everyday concerns. In the euphoria, many analysts lost their perspective. The rapid contraction of the dot.com economy has brought down to earth the once-euphoric belief in the infinite possibility of Internet life. It is not as if the Internet disappeared. Instead, the light that dazzled overhead has become embedded in everyday things. A reality check is now underway about where the Internet fits into the ways in which people behave offline as well as online. We are moving from a world of Internet wizards to a world of ordinary people routinely using the Internet as an embedded part of their lives. It has become clear that the Internet is a very important thing, but not a special thing. In fact, it is being used more – by more people, in more countries, in more ways. This book is a harbinger of a new way of thinking about the Internet: not as a special system but as routinely incorporated into everyday life…. The studies presented here begin the tasks of broadening our focus from the Internet to the social worlds in which it is embroiled. The research in this book focuses on the relationship between the Internet and interpersonal relationships. It speaks to issues about the social consequences of adding the Internet to our daily lives. It explores how the Internet affects social and communal behaviors. The studies address key questions about the impact of the Internet on friendships, civic involvement, and time spent with others. Who is online and who is coming online (and not coming)? How much time do they spend online? How does the Internet affect relationships within households, and with family, friends, voluntary organizations, schoolmates, and workmates? The research presented suggests that the Internet has accentuated a change towards a networked society: a turn toward living in networks rather than in groups. The personalization, portability, ubiquitous connectivity, and imminent wireless mobility of the Internet all facilitate networked individualism as the basis of community.
Excerpts from Manuel Castells’ Preface:
This book is precious. It provides us with reliable, scholarly research on the hows and whats of the Internet as it relates to people’s lives. The Internet is rapidly becoming part of the fabric of our lives, not only in the advanced societies but in the core acitivites and dominant social groups in most of the world…. [These are] academic researchers setting the record straight, engaging into the exploration of a new society, our society, the network society…. [They describe] electronic networks that simultaneously coordinate decision-making and decentralize production and distribution throughout the planet…. [This is] a global movement enacted by and with the Internet…. The emerging pattern is one of self-directed networking, both in terms of social relationships and in terms of social projects. The Internet is not just a tool; it is an essential medium for the network society to unfold its logic…. It is by investigating along the lines suggested in this volume that we will be able to assess its contour and its implications. The network is the message, and the Internet is the messenger.
Excerpts from Howard Rheingold’s Foreword:
Social scientists have pulled ahead of anecdotal evidence and armchair theorizing to provide significant answers to some of society’s most important questions about social behavior via online media…. Good information is now available, but it’s still drowned out by the noise. The next step is getting that news out. The current volume provides useful answers. Most importantly, it frames the right kinds of questions about the ways in which the se of Internet-enabled media affect everyday lives. Each chapter in this volume should stimulate others to ask even more specific questions, as all good research should. Now that the authors of this volume … have established a solid foundation of systematic observation and theory about the ways the Internet influences everyday life, perhaps we won’t have to rely on data-free philosophizing to make policy decisions as citizens and societies.
From Brian D. Loader, Journal Editor, Information, Communication & Society:
The editors are to be congratulated for pulling together a collection of excellent articles that will make a valuable contribution to empirically grounding discussions about the effects of the Internet on our everyday life experiences.
Networks in the Global Village
Edited by Barry Wellman.
Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1999. 377 pages. ISBN: 978-0813311500
Networks in the Global Village examines how people live through personal communities: their networks of friends, neighbors, relatives, and coworkers. It is the first book to compare the communities of people around the world. Major social differences between and within the First, Second, and Third Worlds affect the opportunities and insecurities with which individuals and households must deal, the supportive resources they seek, and the ways in which markets, institutions, and networks structure access to these resources. Each article written by a resident shows how living in a country affects the ways in which people use networks to access resources.
The Network Society in Catalonia
Manuel Castells, Imma Tubella, Teresa Sancho, Maria Isabel Diaz de Isla and Barry Wellman.
Barcelona: Random House Mondadori. November, 2003.
This book — in the Catalan language — describes and analyzes the Catalan society in the age of the Internet. It analyzes Internet uses and their relationship to social and communication practices within the framework of the social structure and social practices of the whole Catalan population. Analyses are based on an in-person survey of a sample of 3,005 persons representative of the population of Catalonia. The survey included both
Internet users and non-users, allowing comparison of the specific effect of the Internet uses on social practices. The book is an x-ray of the entire Catalan society in its differential relationship to the organizational methods and social relationship characteristics of the new technological and cultural context of the network society.
Among the issues discussed about this society in transition are Catalan identity and social structure, Catalan-Spanish bilingualism, Catalan relationships with kin and friends, social and political mobility, cultural matters, the uses and users of the Internet at work, home and school, and personal autonomy in the collectivity.