Cyber Society

Connected Lives (The Third East York Study)
Connected Lives North (The Chapleau Study)
Digital Divide
Essays and Reviews
National Geographic Studies
Networked Individuals
The Strength of Internet Ties
Work On- and Off-Line
Yamanishi Study – Japan
Other Cyber Society Research Papers

Connected Lives (The Third East York Study)

The Connected Lives study investigates interrelationships of personal networks, household relations, community involvement and media use (Internet, phone, in-person). It is the third in the series of East York (Toronto) studies, but the first done in the age of the Internet. The evidence comes from a random-sample survey of 350 adults done in 2004 and full-evening interviews with a 25% subsample of them in 2005. We expect that at least four doctoral dissertations and many papers will come from this research.

Agency in Social Activities Interactions – The Role of Social Networks in Time and Space (Juan-Antonio Carrasco, Bernie Hogan, Barry Wellman and Eric J. Miller).

This paper explores the relationship between travel behaviour, ICT use and social networks. Specifically, we outline a theory of social action that can inform how ICTs relates to social activity travel and explore the efficacy of this theory in an empirical setting. We begin by outlining two factors that influence the propensity to travel: an individual’s will to initiate events with members of one’s social network, referred to as agency, and the social accessibility of network members themselves. Social accessibility defines a series of practical constraints for social-activity travel and agency defines the extent to which an individual will actively work within these constraints to maintain their social network. The theoretical section first unpacks these concepts while embedding them in the research literature, finishing with an operationalisation of agency and social accessibility. Using this theory, the empirical section investigates the relationship between agency, social accessibility, and factors associated with both the respondents and their personal networks. More specifically, we examine how agency levels of interaction are related to differences in demographics, global measures of network structure and composition, and measures of media use, particularly of Internet and telephone. We conclude that individuals who are proximate or more active are more likely to maintain reciprocal relationships, and that more distant or infrequent ties require greater maintenance on the individual’s part. We believe that studies of activity-travel and ICTs will benefit from a theoretical lens that articulates some of the transformative effects of ICTs on travel vis-à-vis its effects on social life. Social accessibility and agency can help focus that lens thereby enabling researchers to make potentially more elaborate and realistic models that move beyond the spatial and temporal dimensions into social dimensions.

[Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie 99 (5), December 2008: 562- 583]

Can You Take It with You? Mobility, ICTs and Work – Life Balance (Tracy L.M. Kennedy, Barry Wellman and Julie Amoroso).

Our focus is on a common form of work mobility – working at home: over-time, part-time and full-time. It is part of the reconfiguration of work from being bound up in closely-supervised, physically compact groups to being networked – where people are individually responsible for their own production. Our Connected Lives data shows that most home-work is part-time or over-time, rather than full-time. There are important differences in the work and domestic practices of these three types of work. Full-timers have blurrier boundaries between work and domestic life. They frequently use ICTs to connect with their partners during the day. By contrast, over-timers, who bring their work home at night, more rigidly segregate their work and domestic lives.

[Pp. 191-210 in Mobile Communication: Dimensions of Social Policy, edited by James Katz. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2011.]

Canadians, Culture, and Computers (Jennifer Kayahara and Barry Wellman with Jeffrey Boase, Bernie Hogan and Tracy Kennedy).

As the internet has become more commonplace, Canadians have begun to use the internet to engage with culture in their daily lives. In general, Canadians favour using the internet as a source of specific information to supplement more general information and recommendations gathered from offline sources. However, this varies somewhat according to individual orientations toward technology. People who are strongly enthusiastic about the possibilities of the internet tend to make wider use of it than people who view the internet as one tool among many. “Searching for Culture — High and Low” is a more focused look at this research.

[Report to Department of Canadian Heritage, 2005]

Collecting Social Network Data to Study Social Activity – Travel Behavior – An Egocentric Approach (Juan-Antonio Carrasco, Bernie Hogan, Barry Wellman and Eric J. Miller).

This paper presents a data collection effort designed to incorporate the social dimension in social activity-travel behavior, explicitly studying the link between individuals’ social
activities and their social networks. Using survey and interview instruments, the data collects the respondents’ social networks using an egocentric approach, constituted by the interplay between their individual social structure and their social activity-behavior. More explicitly, individuals’ networks are studied in their relationship with social activity-travel generation, spatial distribution, and information communication technology use. The resultant data set links in novel ways aspects that have been rarely studied together.

[Presented at the 85th Transportation Research Board Meeting, Washington DC,January 22-26, 2006.]

Connected Lives – The Project (Barry Wellman and Bernie Hogan and Kristen Berg, Jeffrey Boase, Juan-Antonio Carrasco, Rochelle Côté, Jennifer Kayahara, Tracy L. M. Kennedy and Phuoc Tran).

This first paper from the Connected Lives project provides a preliminary view of the many linked paths that our research is following. The Connected Lives project is our third study of East York and the first to take the Internet (and other ICTs) into account.

[Chapter 8 in Networked Neighbourhoods, edited by Patrick Purcell. London: Springer, 2006.]

Connected Lives – The Survey (Barry Wellman and Bernie Hogan and Kristen Berg, Jeffrey Boase, Juan-Antonio Carrasco, Rochelle Côté, Jennifer Kayahara, Tracy L. M. Kennedy and Phuoc Tran).

This is the questionnaire for Connected Lives, the 3rd East York Study. This random sample survey was administered to 350 adults in East York in 2004.

See Connected Lives: The Project above.

Connected Lives – The Interview Schedule (Barry Wellman and Bernie Hogan and Kristen Berg, Jeffrey Boase, Juan-Antonio Carrasco, Rochelle Côté, Jennifer Kayahara, Tracy L. M. Kennedy and Phuoc Tran).

This is the interview guide for the 3rd East York (Connected Lives) study. Interviews were conducted in 2005 with a 25% subsamble of the survey respondents.

See Connected Lives: The Project above.

Distance Patterns Of Personal Networks In Four Countries: A Comparative Study (by Matthias Kowald, Pauline van den Berg, Andreas Frei, Juan-Antonio Carrasco, Theo Arentze, Kay Axhausen, Diana Mok, Harry Timmermans, and Barry Wellman)

Acknowledging the relevance of social networks on (social) travel behaviour, the objective of this paper is to study comparatively the distance patterns between the home locations of social contacts. Analyses are based on five recent collections of personal network data from four countries: Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Chile. Multilevel models, which explicitly account for the hierarchical structure of the data sets, are used to study the role of explanatory variables to understand the distance patterns of social contacts. Modelling results suggest that across these countries alters’ characteristics (such as type of relationship, emotional closeness, and duration of the relationship) and personal network composition (alters with a certain relationship to the ego) constitute stronger predictors than egos’ socio-demographic information. In addition, comparative analyses suggest differences between countries on key variables such as ego’s income and the strength of ego-alter ties.

[Forthcoming in Journal of Transport Geography.]

Does Distance Still Matter in the Age of the Internet? (Diana Mok, Juan-Antonio Carrasco and Barry Wellman).

Our study is part of the broad debate about the role of distance and technology for interpersonal contact. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that systematically and explicitly compares the role of distance in social networks pre- and post-Internet. We analyze the effect of distance on the frequency of email, phone, face-to-face and overall contact in personal networks, and we compare the findings with its pre-Internet counterpart whose data were collected in 1978 in the same East York, Toronto locality. We use multilevel models with spline specification to examine the nonlinear effects of distance on the frequency of contact. We compare these effects for both very close and somewhat close ties, and for different role relationships: immediate kin, extended kin, friends and neighbours. The results show that email contact is generally insensitive to distance, but tends to increase for transoceanic relationships greater than 3,000 miles apart. Face-to-face contact remains strongly related to short distances (within five miles), while distance has little impact on how often people phone each other at the regional level (within 100 miles). The study concludes that email has only somewhat altered the way people maintain their relationships. The frequency of face-to-face contact among socially-close friends and relatives has hardly changed between the 1970s and the 2000s, although the frequency of phone contact has slightly increased. Moreover, the sensitivity of these relationships to distance has remained similar, despite the communication affordances of the Internet and low-cost telephony.

[Urban Studies, 2009]

How Far and With Whom do People Socialize? Empirical Evidence About the Distance Between Social Network Members (Juan-Antonio Carrasco, Eric Miller and Barry Wellman).

Hägerstrand’s seminal argument that regional science is about people and not only locations is still a compelling and challenging idea when studying the spatial distribution of activities. In the context of social activity-travel behavior (hosting and visiting), this issue is particularly fundamental since the individual’s main motivation to perform social trips is mostly with whom they interact rather than where they go. A useful approach to incorporate the travelers’ social context is by explicitly studying the spatial distribution of their social networks, focusing on social locations as emerging from their contacts, rather than analyzing social activity locations in isolation. In this context, this paper studies the spatial distribution of social activities, focusing on the home distances between specific individuals (egos) and their network members (alters) with whom they socialize — serving as a proxy to study social activity-travel location. Using data from a recent study of personal networks and social interaction, and multilevel models that account for the hierarchical structure of these networks, this paper provides empirical evidence on how the characteristics of the individuals and their social context relates with the distance separating them. The results strongly suggest that, although the spatial distribution of social interaction has idiosyncratic characteristics, there are several systematic effects associated with the characteristics of egos, alters, and their personal networks that affect the spatial distribution of relationships, and which can aid understanding of where people perform social activities with others.

[Transportation Research Record, issue # 2076 (2008)]

The Networked Household (Tracy L.M. Kennedy and Barry Wellman).

We argue that many households do not operate as traditional densely-knit groups but as more sparsely-knit social networks where each person juggles his/her own agenda and schedule. Individuals, rather than family solidarities, have become the primary unit of household connectivity. At a time when many people enact multiple, individual roles at home, in the community and at work, we ask: how do information and communication technologies affect how networked individuals operate within and between households? How do people reconcile individualism within their homes with household cohesion? Interviews and surveys conducted in 2004-2005 in the Toronto, Canada area of East Yorkexamine how household members network with each other and how individuals have supplanted households to become portals of communication and information. Our analyses show that households remain connected – but as networks rather than solidary groups. We show how networked individuals bridge their relationships and connect with each other within the home and build bridges to friends and relatives. Individuals act both for themselves and as agents of their household for information and communication.

[Information, Communication and Society, 2007. Click here for the Spanish version of the paper.]

Searching for Culture – High and Low (Jennifer Kayahara and Barry Wellman).

We examine the link between finding out about cultural activities online and interpersonally. Using data from interviews with Torontonians, we show that people first obtain cultural information from interpersonal ties or other offline sources, and only then turn to the Web to amplify this information. The decisions about what information to seek from which media can be evaluated in terms of a uses and gratifications approach. The main gratifications identified include efficiency and the availability of up-to-date information. We also argue that our findings have implications for the model of the traditional two-step flow of communication. We suggest the possible existence of new steps, whereby people receive recommendations from their interpersonal ties, gather information about these recommendations online, take this information back to their ties, and at times go back to the Web to check what new information their ties have given to them. Revised, focused and more theoretically developed version of ” Canadians, Culture and Computers “.

[Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 12 (4): April: 2007 Online here.]

Statistical Profiles – East York 1981-2005 and Chapleau 2001 (Sarah Gram, Barry Wellman and Julie Amoroso).

This report uses census data and NetLab survey statistics to profile East York and Chapleau at approximately the time of our research and interviews for the second (1979) and third (2004-2005) East York studies. These profiles are intended to be introductions to the characteristics of two areas studied by NetLab’s Connected Lives projects: the area of East York in metropolitan Toronto and the northern Ontario town of Chapleau. The information in this profile is drawn from Canadian censuses as well as from the data collected by the Connected Lives project. These profiles compare East York at two points in time, when they were studied by NetLab in the late 1970s and again in 2004-2005. It also compares contemporary East York with Chapleau.

The Turn Toward Networked Individualism at the Intersection of Transportation and Information Communication Technologies

[Presented to the International Conference on New Frontiers in Transportation Research Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, August 2009]

Visualizing Personal Networks – Working with Participant Aided Sociograms (Bernie Hogan, Juan Antonio Carrasco and Barry Wellman).

We describe an interview-based data collection procedure for social network analysis designed to (a) aid gathering information about the people known by a respondent and reduce problems with (b) data integrity, and (c) respondent burden. This procedure, a participant-aided network diagram (sociogram), is an extension of traditional name generators. While such a diagram can be produced through computer assisted programs for interviewing (CAPIs) and low-technology (i.e., paper), we demonstrate both practical and methodological reasons for keeping high technology in the lab and low technology in the field. We provide some general heuristics that can reduce the time needed to complete a name generator. We present findings from our Connected Lives field study to illustrate this procedure and compare to an alternative method for gathering network data.

[Field Methods 19 (2), May 2007: 116-144.]

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Connected Lives North (The Chapleau Study)

Connected Lives North (The Chapleau Study) (Dean Behrens, Paul Glavin and Barry Wellman).

This is a preliminary report (May 2007) on the effects of a new broadband installation (mesh technology) in the northern Ontario town of Chapleau. Our two surveys show that many Chapleau residents who had not been using the Internet did not switch to using it after the introduction of mesh technology. However, when used, the Internet was incorporated into people’s lives in a process of “normalization”. Internet use supplemented both social interaction and social engagement: 1. Internet users engaged in more face-to-face contact than non-users. 2. Moderate users of the Internet were more likely to belong to a voluntary organization. This may be due to the Internet acting as a catalyst for engagement- a facilitating tool to enable a greater ease in scheduling face-to-face social interaction and engagement.

[Report to Bell Canada and Nortel Networks, 2007]

Small Town in the Internet Society – Chapleau Is No Longer An Island (Jessica L. Collins and Barry Wellman).

We analyze the impact of new digital media on the residents of Chapleau, a remote rural Northern Ontario town. Like urban situations, broadband email facilitates communication with friends and relatives who live both locally and far away. Unlike urban situations, mobile phones are rarely used locally: they are for trips outside of town. Broadband use has aided health-care, shopping and information gathering. Indeed, it is the increased connectivity to the outside that stands out, making Chapleau much less of an “island”.

[American Behavioral Scientist, 53 (9): in press, 2010. DOI:10.1177/0002764210361689]

Statistical Profiles – East York 1981-2005 and Chapleau 2001 (Sarah Gram, Barry Wellman and Julie Amoroso).

This report uses census data and NetLab survey statistics to profile East York and Chapleau at approximately the time of our research and interviews for the second (1979) and third (2004-2005) East York studies. These profiles are intended to be introductions to the characteristics of two areas studied by NetLab’s Connected Lives projects: the area of East York in metropolitan Toronto and the northern Ontario town of Chapleau. The information in this profile is drawn from Canadian censuses as well as from the data collected by the Connected Lives project. These profiles compare East York at two points in time, when they were studied by NetLab in the late 1970s and again in 2004-2005. It also compares contemporary East York with Chapleau.

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Digital Divide

Charting Digital Divides – Comparing Socioeconomic, Gender, Life Stage, and Rural-Urban Internet Access and Use in Five Countries (Wenhong Chen and Barry Wellman).

Comparing Socioeconomic, Gender, Life Stage, and Rural-Urban Internet Access and Use in Five Countries — U.S.,U.K., Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, China and Mexico.

[Pp. 467-97 in Transforming Enterprise, edited by William Dutton, Brian Kahin, Ramon O’Callaghan and Andrew Wyckoff. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.,2005]

Correlates of the Digital Divide – Individual, Household and Spatial Variation (With Eric Fong, Melissa Kew, and Rima Wilkes).

Reviews research literature about the socioeconomic, gender, life-course, ethnic and linguistic nature of who in North America uses personal computers and the Internet. Includes new statistical analyses of American and Canadian research.

[Report to Office of Learning Technologies, Human Resources Development Canada, June 2001.]

Minding the Cyber-Gap – The Internet and Social Inequality (Wenhong Chen and Barry Wellman).

The primary goal of this chapter is to evaluate and synthesize literature on the relation of the internet and social inequality since the earlier 1990s. In the first part of this chapter, we look at how various forms of social inequality affect uneven access and use of the internet and develop a framework to analyze systematically how technological and social factors affect both access and use of the internet. We argue that the digital divide is not a binary yes/no question of whether the basic physical access to the internet is available because access does not equal use, and we show how the digital divide is shaped by social factors as much as by technological factors. In the second section, we explore the internet’s impact on individuals, communities, and countries. We assess three scenarios common in the existing literature: equalization, amplification, and transformation. We argue for a transformation scenario that emphasizes the social embeddedness of technologies and their social impacts. In the third section, we review literature on how to narrow the digital divide in disadvantaged communities.

[Chapter prepared for Blackwell Companion to Social Inequalities, edited by Mary Romero and Eric Margolis, Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.]

The Global Digital Divide – Within and Between Countries (Wenhong Chen and Barry Wellman).

The diffusion of the Internet (and its accompanying digital divides) has occurred at the intersection of both international and within-country differences in socioeconomic, technological and linguistic factors. Telecommunications policies, infrastructures and education are prerequisites for marginalized ommunities to participate in the information age. High costs, English language dominance, the lack of relevant content, and the lack of technological support are barriers for disadvantaged communities using computers and the Internet.

[IT & Society, 1(7) Spring/Summer 2004, pp. 39-45.]

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Essays and Reviews

An Electronic Group is Virtually a Social Network

Compares network and group models of community and work.

[ Culture of the Internet, edited by Sara Kiesler.Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1997, Pp. 179-205.]

Changing Connectivity – A Future History of Y2.03K

How the possible shape of things to come in computer mediated communication may affect social interaction and the network society. “Physical Place and Cyber Place” (below) continues this story.

[Sociological Research Online 4, 4, February 2000 Online here.]

Computer Networks As Social Networks

Review article about how social networks affect (a) the Internet in everyday life and (b) knowledge management in complex organizations

[Science 293, 14, Sept 2001: 2031-34.]

Computer Networks as Social Networks – Virtual Community, Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Telework (with Janet Salaff, Dimitrina Dimitrova, Laura Garton, Milena Gulia and Caroline Haythornthwaite).

Review article about virtual community, computer-supported cooperative work, and telework.

[Annual Review of Sociology 22, Feb 1996: 213-38.]

Designing the Internet for a Networked Society

[Communications of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), 45, 5 (May 2002), pp. 91-96.]

Examining the Internet in Everyday Life (with Anabel Quan-Haase, Jeffrey Boase, and Wenhong Chen).

Keynote address given by Barry Wellman to the Euricom Conference on e-Democracy. Nijmegen, Netherlands. October 2002.

How Does the Internet Affect Social Capital? (with Anabel Quan-Haase).

We use data from a variety of recent surveys to examine the interplay between social capital and the Internet.

[Pp. 113-32 in Social Capital and Information Technology, edited by Marleen Huysman and Volker Wulf. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004.]

How Networked are Scholars in a Networked Organization? (with Dimitrina Dimitrova, with Zack Hayat and Guang Ying Mo).

The world is becoming networked. Not only are computers, families, and friendships networked, but so are work and organizations. To understand this, our NAVEL research team has been studying GRAND: a geographically distributed networked organization of scholars whose work organization exemplifies a broad change from the longstanding industrial bureaucratic norm of employees embedded in focused work groups that fit into organizational trees.

Living Networked in a Wired World

A short review of how the social affordances of email affect work and community interaction.

[IEEE Intelligent Systems 14 (1), Jan-Feb, 1999: 15-17.]

Living Networked On and Off Line (with Keith Hampton).

[Contemporary Sociology 28 (6), November 1999: 648-54.]

Net Surfers Don’t Ride Alone – Virtual Community as Community (with Milena Gulia).

Argues that community sociology’s lore can help inform the study of virtual community.

[Pp. 331-67 in Networks in the Global Villageedited by Barry Wellman. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1999.]

Personal Relationships – On and Off the Internet (Jeffrey Boase and Barry Wellman).

This chapter discusses the role of the internet in personal relationships. It starts with a brief description of the socially relevant characteristics of internet technology and a summary of the debate between utopian and dystopian accounts of internet use on personal relationships. Research that examines the internet’s role in facilitating communication between family and friends, forming new social ties and neighboring relations shows that the internet is neither destroying nor radically altering society for the better. They suggest that the interpersonal patterns associated with internet use are the continuations of a shift in the nature of personal networks that began well before the advent of the internet. This shift toward “networked individualism” involves the transition from spatially proximate and densely-knit communities in which people belong to more spatially dispersed and sparsely-knit personal networks in which people maneuver.

[In Cambridge Handbook of Personal Relationships, edited by Anita Vangelisti and Daniel Perlman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, Pp.709-723.]

Physical Place and Cyber Place – The Rise of Personalized Networking 

Reviews the implications of technological changes in computer-mediated interaction for changes in the network society, especially personalization. Continues the story of “Changing Connectivity” (above).

[International Journal of Urban and Regional Research25, 2 (2001): 227-52.]

Studying Online Social Networks (with Laura Garton and Caroline Haythornthwaite).

How to use social network analysis to study computer supported cooperative work and communty.

[Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 3 (1), June, 1997.]

The Immanent Internet (with Bernie Hogan).

The internet has descended from the ethereal firmament to become immanent in everyday life. The stand-alone capital-I “Internet” became the more widespread and complex small-i “internet”. The internet has become intertwined with a larger paradigm shift in how people are connected: from relatively homogenous, broadly-embracing, densely-knit, and tightly-bounded groups to more heterogeneous, specialized, sparsely-knit, and loosely-bounded social networks. Although the transformation began in the pre-internet 1960s, the proliferation of the internet both reflects and further facilitates this shift in social organization to networked individualism.

[Pp. 54-80 in Netting Citizens: Exploring Citizenship in a Digital Age, edited by Johnston McKay. Edinburgh:St. Andrew Press, 2004.]

The Immanent Internet Redux (with Bernie Hogan).

Interaction on the Internet has never been completely divorced from offline interaction. Nevertheless, myths of a transcendent Internet emerged, and persist to this day. We review these myths, and the perennial moral panics that they engender. We do not deny the Internet’s capacity to link people across time, space and social location. However, we assert that technological trends on the Internet do not move it away from offline life, or more realistically stated, everyday life. Instead, the trend is towards increased involvement of the Internet in mundane affairs. In the seven years since the publication of our original “The Immanent Internet” article, this trend has intensified with no sign of abating. The broad diffusion of social network sites with real identities, political and charitable mobilization online, and location-based services, alongside the increasing sophistication of search technologies serve only to reinforce and strengthen this claim. Throughout this article we indicate how spiritual metaphors have resonated with the myth of a transcendent Internet. The immanent internet provides a technological means for social connection, including both broad interfaith communication and narrowly focused ideological echo-chambers.

[Pp. 43-62 in Digital Religion, Social Media and Culture: Perspectives, Practices and Futures, edited by Pauline Hope Cheong, Peter Fischer-Nielsen, Stefan Gelfgren and Charles Ess. Bern, Switz: Peter Lang, 2012.]

The Internet in Everyday Life (Barry Wellman and Bernie Hogan).

The increasing presence of the Internet in everyday lives has created important issues about what it means for access to resources, social interaction, and commitment to groups, organizations and communities. This brief article discusses how the use of the Internet affects traditional social and communal behaviors, such as communication with local family and commitment to geographical communities.

[Pp. 389-97 in the Berkshire Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, edited by William Sims Bainbridge. Great Barrington, MA: BerkshirePublishing, 2004.]

The Networked Nature of Community Online and Offline (with Jeffrey Boase and Wenhong Chen).

This paper summarizes the recent works of NetLab studying the Internet in everyday life.

[IT & Society 1 (1), Summer, 2002: 151-165.]

The Persistence and Transformation of Community – From Neighbourhood Groups to Social Networks

Reviews different conceptions of community, the transformation of community into spatially-dispersed social networks, and how the Internet is affecting community on and offline.

[Report to the Law Commission of Canada, 2001.]

The Relational Self-Portrait: Selfies Meet Social Networks (Bernie Hogan and Barry Wellman)

[Hogan, B., & Wellman, B. (2014). The Relational Self-Portrait: Selfies Meet Social Networks. In M. Graham & W. H. Dutton (Eds.), Society and the internet: How networks of information and communication are changing our lives (pp. 53–66). New York: Oxford University Press.]

The Social Affordances of the Internet for Networked Individualism (Barry Wellman, Anabel Quan-Haase, Jeffrey Boase, Wenhong Chen, Keith
Hampton, Isabel Diaz de Isla and Kakuko Miyata).

[Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 8, 3 (April 2003)]

Studying Internet Studies Through the Ages

In two decades, social studies of the Internet have gone from utopian hype and dystopian fear, to documenting the shape of the Internet, to theoretically-informed analyses that are often embedded in larger debates within disciplines.

[Forthcoming in Blackwell Handbook of Internet Studies, 2009]

If Romeo and Juliet Had Mobile Phones (with Lee Rainie).

How did the absence of mobile phones affect the romantic life and death of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet? It would be part of the social change from group-bound societies to networked individualism. The Mobile revolution would have afforded personal communication rather than coming into the households of the Montagues and Capulets. They would have been always available to each other instead of wondering where they were. Location-aware apps would have plotted their whereabouts. The course of true love would have been more insular, but more connected.

[For Mobile Media & Communication, June 7, 2012.]

The Individual in a Networked World – Two Scenarios (Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman with Christian Beermann and Tsahi Hayat).

We provide two alternative future scenarios taken from Chapter 11 of our Networked book:  (1) networked individuals using their avatars and bots; (2) a walled world under constant surveillance. This article appears on our site courtesy of the World Future Society,

[The Futurist, July-August 2012, pp. 24-27]

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National Geographic Studies

In 1998, NetLab’s Barry Wellman, Keith Hampton and a team of American scholars worked with the National Geographic Society to do a web survey of visitors to their web site. (James Witte [Clemson University] was the Principal Investigator.) Although the sampling was not random, this was the first very large, international study of web users.

Capitalizing on the Internet – Network Capital, Participatory Capital, and Sense of Community (Anabel Quan Hasse, Barry Wellman, James Witte and Keith Hampton).

[Pp.291-324 in The Internet in Everyday Life, edited by Barry Wellman and Caroline Haythornthwaite. Oxford: Blackwell. 2002.]

Gendering the Digital Divide (Tracy Kennedy, Barry Wellman, Kristine Klement).

Gender pervades how people use the Internet. Three large North American national surveys are used to compare women’s Internet use with men. Consistent with the earlier literature on gender roles, they show that women use the Internet more for social reasons, while men use it more for instrumental and solo recreational reasons. Caregiving for children at home limits mothers more than fathers in the use they make of the Internet.]

[IT & Society 1, 5 (Summer 2003).]

Y-a-t-il du territoire dans le cyberspace? Usages et usagers des lieux d’accès publics à Internet. [Is There a Place in Cyberspace – The Uses and Users of Public Internet Terminals] (with Wenhong Chen, Jeffrey Boase and Monica Prijatelj).

We compare the users and uses of the Internet according to the places where they access it, paying especially attention to public terminal users. We find that the users of public terminals are more apt to be younger, single and newbies. They make somewhat less social use of the Internet and somewhat more recreational use. However, the differences between public terminal users, and work, home and school users are generally not substantial.

[Géographie et Cultures, #46 (Été): 5-2, 2003.]

The Global Villagers – Comparing Internet Users and Uses Around the World (with Wenhong Chen and Jeffrey Boase).

[Pp. 74-113 in The Internet in Everyday Life, edited by Barry Wellman and Caroline Haythornthwaite. Oxford: Blackwell. 2002.]

Tracking Geekus Unixus – An Explorers’ Report from the National Geographic Website (with Thomas Chmielewski).

Compares the demographic, behavioral and attitudinal characteristics of Unix users with normal people.

[SIGGROUP Bulletin 20 (December, 1999): 26-28.]

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“Netville” was Canada’s first wired suburb, and one of the first in the world. In the 1990s, many of Netville’s residents had extremely high-speed, always-on Internet service when almost all others had slow-speed, intermittant dial-up service. As Netville is a suburb of Toronto, then doctoral student Keith Hampton was able to live there as a participant-observer for well over a year. In addition, Hampton and Barry Wellman surveyed almost all Netville residents. As the telephone company was unable to connect every household to the high-speed network, we had an opportunity to compare “wired” and “non-wired” Netville residents.

Examining Community in the Digital Neighbourhood – Early Results from Canada’s Wired Suburb (with Keith Hampton).

Preliminary account of local interaction in a leading-edge wired suburb. See “Netville …” below for research design.

[Pp. 475-92 in Digital Cities: Technologies, Experiences, and Future Perspectives, edited by Toru Ishida and Katherine Isbister. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2000.]

Grieving For a Lost Network – Collective Action in a Wired Suburb (By Keith Hampton).

[The Information Society, 19, October 2003:417-428.]

Living the Wired Life in the Wired Suburb – Netville, Glocalization and Civil Society (By Keith Hampton).

[Doctoral Dissertation. August 2001.]

Long Distance Community in the Network Society – Contact and Support Beyond Netville (With Keith Hampton).

[American Behavioral Scientist 45(3), Nov 2001: 477-96.]

Neighboring in Netville – How the Internet Supports Community and Social Capital in a Wired Suburb (With Keith Hampton).

What is the Internet doing to local community? Analysts have debated about whether the Internet is weakening community by leading people away from meaningful in-person contact; transforming community by creating new forms of community online; or enhancing community by adding a new means of connecting with existing relationships. They have been especially concerned that the globe-spanning capabilities of the Internet would limit local involvements. Survey and ethnographic data from a “wired suburb” near Torontoshows that high-speed, always-on access to the Internet, coupled with a local online discussion group, transforms and enhances neighboring. The Internet especially supports increased contact with weaker ties. In comparison to non-wired residents of the same suburb, more neighbors are known and chatted with, and they are more geographically dispersed around the suburb. Not only did the Internet support neighboring, it also facilitated discussion and mobilization around local issues.

[Final draft of article published in City & Community2,4, December 2003: pp. 277-311.]

Netville On-Line and Off-Line – Observing and Surveying a Wired Suburb (with Keith Hampton).

Documents the research design and information collection of studying a leading-edge wired suburb. See “Examining …” above for preliminary data.

[American Behavioral Scientist 43, 3, Nov, 1999: 475-92.]

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Networked Individuals

The Memory Revolution (By Barry Wellman, Christian Beermann and Lilia Smale)

In this preliminary report, we assess how Canadians are dealing with their memory objects-both as physical objects and as digital objects. How are personal memories switching from family physical objects — such as photos on a mantelpiece — to personal digital objects on social media?
Our research uses in-depth semi-structured interviews in a research site that has been part of our ongoing research since 1967: the Toronto area of East York. We find that East Yorkers currently use a hybrid model of both family objects and personal digital objects. We find that they have some concerns about sharing and surveillance, but more from their peers than from large government and corporate institutions.

[Report to Library and Archives Canada, April 4 2013. Used by permission.]

The Strength of Internet Ties

Pew Report: The Strength of Internet Ties (Jeffrey Boase, John B. Horrigan, Barry Wellman and Lee Rainie)

The internet and email aid users in maintaining their social networks and provide pathways to help when people face big decisions. The internet and email expand and strengthen the social ties that people maintain in the offline world, according to a new report released today by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. One major payoff comes when people use the internet to press their social networks into action as they face major challenges. People not only socialize online, but they also incorporate the internet into their quest for information and advice as they seek help and make decisions.

[Washington: Pew Internet and American Life Project, January 2006. Online here.]

Media Stories on Report

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“Cell Phone Nation”

Barry Wellman was the principal guest on the US National Public Radio (NPR) show, “On Point” Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003, 8-9 PM. Wellman argued that the merging of cell and wired phone numbers was part of the transition from people functioning in tightly-knit bounded groups to functioning in sparsely-knit, less-bounded social networks. He noted that many household members keep individual schedules rather than being together as families. Similarly, many employees move among multiple work teams rather than being part of a single work group. Such situations call for the individualized connectivity provided by cellphones, PCs (which pioneered individual logons), and Blackberries. For example, truck drivers and taxi drivers value being able to connect with loved ones and coworkers throughout the day.

Connected Lives – The Presentation (Barry Wellman and Bernie Hogan and Kristen Berg, Jeffrey Boase, Juan-Antonio Carrasco, Rochelle Côté, Jennifer Kayahara, Tracy L. M. Kennedy and Phuoc Tran).

“Little Boxes, Glocalization, Networked Individualism”

These slides integrate two lectures by Barry Wellman presenting some of NetLab’s research studying the rise of networked individualism in the community and at work to the Digital Cities Conference in Kyoto October 2001 and to a joint meeting of the NTT Communication Sciences Laboratories and the IEEE-Kyoto section.

Living Networked in a Wired World – Slides 

A lengthy set of slides that argues the development of networked individualism and documents this with summaries of our group’s research projects studying computer-supported community and work: the wired suburb, the National Geographic study, smaller community case studies, networked and virtual organizations (scholarly networks), telework.

[Keynote Address to the Inaugural Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers Lawrence, Kansas, USA, Sept 14, 2000.]

Networking Trust – Slides (Barry Wellman).

Includes information on the principles and social network analysis plus a case study, “Hyperconnected Net Work” (joint with Anabel Quan-Haase of a heavily email and IM using organization).

[Extended version of the talk given at the “Communities and Trust” session of CSCW04, Chicago, Nov 2004.]

The Internet In Everyday Life – Slides 

Eighty Nine slides integrating NetLab’s research since the 1960s, with special emphasis on five debates about how email (and other Internet technologies) is affecting community.

[From Prof. Wellman’s inaugural lecture as S.D. Clark Chair of Sociology, October 24, 2006. Video of presentation available here.]

“The Internet and Networked Individualism” (Barry Wellman).

An April 2003 video lecture by Barry Wellman to the Lustrum celebrating the 75th anniversary of the University of Tilburg, Netherlands. Wellman presents his ideas about the turn from Place-to-Place to Person-to-Person connectivity, and supplies a variety of data from NetLab research to illustrate his contentions.

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Work On- and Off-Line

Context and Intent in Call Processing (Tom Gray, Ramiro Liscano, Barry Wellman, Anabel Quan-Haase, T. Radhakrishnan, and Yongseok Choi).

This article summarizes the collaborative work done by Barry Wellman and Anabel Quan-Haase at NetLab with the Strategic Technology Group of Mitel Networks, headed by Tom Gray and Ramiro Liscano until December 2003. It discusses the issues involved in building personalized computer-supported communication systems, with especial concern to developing rules for prioritizing messages.

[Pp. 177-84 in Feature Interactions in Telecommunications and Software Systems VII, edited by Daniel Amyot and Luigi LogrippoAmsterdam: IOS Press: 2003.]

Escape From the Fishbowl? Office Workers Go Virtual (With Janet W. Salaff, Arent Greve, Dimitrina Dimitrova and Jeff Boase).

We study the work relations of teleworkers at a high-tech organization. How does computer mediated communication integrate with in-person and telephone communication to organize work. We contrast the exchange of information in two work communities, one with bounded (fishbowl) and one with unbounded (fishnet) relationships.

[Working Paper, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, November 2000.]

From the Computerization Movement to Computerization – A Case Study of a Community of Practice (By Anabel Quan-Haase and Barry Wellman).

We find mixed results when assessing how the expectations of the computerization movement fit with our case study of a high-tech organization that is heavily computerized. In the organization, “internetworking technologies” are the main local – as well as global – means of communication. We find that hyperconnectivity fosters collaboration, community of practice, and commitment to the organization. Yet the evidence only partially supports the “death of distance” and “democratization technological action” frames of Rob Kling and associates. The organization is a local virtuality, with email and instant messaging primarily supporting local, within-department connectivity. The organization remains a hierarchy, although extensive networking occurs within organizational constraints. This paper is from the same study as “Hyperconnected Networks”.

[Conference on the Computerization Movement, organized in memory of Rob Kling, University of California Irvine, March 2005.]

Hyperconnected Net Work (Anabel Quan-Haase and Barry Wellman).

We use a case study of a medium-size, high-tech firm to see how computer mediated communication (CMC) affects communication, community, and trust in organizations. We use social network analysis to make visible the actual lines of communication within departments, between departments, and outside of the organization. We focus especially on three phenomena: 1. Hyperconnectivity: The availability of people for communication anywhere and anytime. 2. Local Virtuality: The pervasive use of CMC for interaction with physical proximate people, even if located at the next desk at work or next door at home. 3. Glocalization: Constraint-free communication combining global and local connectivity. We discover a quasi-law of the conservation of media (reply unto others as they have messaged to you). Although our case study is not a networked organization, computer-mediated networks permeate its hierarchical bureaucracy. We show how CMC affords trust and interdependence in a work community.] This paper is from the same study as “From the Computerization Movement to Computerization”.

[Pp. 281-333 in The Firm as a Collaborative Community: Reconstructing Trust in the Knowledge Economy,edited by Charles Heckscher and Paul Adler. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.]

Local Virtuality in a High-Tech Networked Organization (By Anabel Quan-Haase and Barry Wellman).

We examine how employees at a high-tech company communicate with members of their work groups, and others inside and outside of their organization. To what extent does boundary spanning communication take place? The findings suggest that organizations have only partially moved toward a pure form of the networked organization. We propose “glocalization” as an alternative perspective for understanding these new forms of work: local involvement with global reach. The high local reliance on computer-mediated communication creates “local virtualities”.

[Analyse und Kritik, Summer, 2004.]

Social Impacts of Electronic Mail in Organizations – A Review of the Research Literature (with Laura Garton).

Reviews the state of knowledge at the time. A slightly revised version appears in Communications Yearbook, 1995.

[Toronto: Ontario Telepresence Project, Technical Report No. OTP-93-13; November, 1993.]

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Major address given by Barry Wellman to the Clinton School of Public Service, Little Rock, Ark, April 14 2009. It provides 12 points about the intersection of social networks, the internet and mobile connectivity in changing lives.

Barry Wellman addresses the Clinton School of Public Service (Video)

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Imagining Twitter as an Imagined Community (With Anatoliy Gruzd and Yuri Takhteyev).

The notion of “community” has often been caught between concrete social relationships and imagined sets of people perceived to be similar. The rise of the Internet has refocused our attention on this ongoing tension. The Internet has enabled people who know each other to use social media, from e-mail to Facebook, to interact without meeting physically. Into this mix came Twitter, an asymmetric microblogging service: If you follow me, I do not have to follow you. This means that connections on Twitter depend less on in-person contact, as many users have more followers than they know. Yet there is a possibility that Twitter can form the basis of interlinked personal communities—and even of a sense of community. This analysis of one person’s Twitter network shows that it is the basis for a real community, even though Twitter was not designed to support the development of online communities. Studying Twitter is useful for understanding how people use new communication technologies to form new social connections and maintain existing ones.

[American Behavioral Scientist, 55(10): 1294–1318, SAGE Publications 2011.
DOI: 10.1177/0002764211409378]

Geography of Twitter Networks (With Yuri Takhteyev and Anatoliy Gruzd).

The paper examines the influence of geographic distance, national boundaries, language and frequency of air travel on the formation of social ties on Twitter, a popular micro-blogging website. Based on a large sample of publicly available Twitter data, our study shows that a substantial share of ties lies within the same metropolitan region, and that for ties between regional clusters, distance, national borders and language differences all predict Twitter ties. We find that the frequency of airline flights between the two parties is the best predictor of Twitter ties. This highlights the importance of looking at pre-existing ties between places and people.

[Social Networks, 34: 73-81, Elsevier 2012]

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Yamanishi Study – Japan

The Mobile-izing Japanese – Connecting to the Internet by PC and Webphone in Yamanishi (with Kakuko Miyata, Jeffrey Boase, and Ken’ichi Ikeda).

Japanese internet use is from both webphones and PCs. This first paper from the Winter 2002 Yamanishi study compares the social networks and internet use of those who use webphones only, PCs only, or both. We find the more, the more: Those who use both internet media have larger networks and are more involved with the internet. Webphones and PCs are complementary, with webphones being used for quick information seeking and short messages with intimates, and PCs being used for more in-depth searches and longer messages with both intimates and weaker ties.

[Pp. 143-64 in Portable, Personal, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life, edited by Mizuko Ito, Misa Matsuda and Daisuke Okabe. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005]

The Social Effects of Keitei and Personal Computer E-mail in Japan (with Kakuko Miyata and Jeffrey Boase).

Reviews and analyzes research into Japanese use of mobile communication devices: phones, webphones, smartphones,keitai.

[In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, edited by J.Katz. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008]

The Wired and Wireless – Japanese – Webphones, PCs and Social Networks (with Kakuko Miyata and Jeffrey Boase).

[Pp. 427-449 in Mobile Communications: Re-negotiation of the Social Sphere, edited by R. Ling and P.E. Pederson. UK: Springer: Surrey, 2005.]

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Other Cyber Society Research Papers

Digitizing Ozymandias

The interplay between the digital and the material – between atoms and bits – continues and develops. Yet, these are not separate worlds: there is no “digital dualism”, to use Nathan Jurgenson’s nice term. Rather, we and our physical objects are part of the same worlds, although we need to think carefully about how we take care of and link our bodies, minds, and artifacts. This essay meditates on networked individualism: the digital and the material; the solo and the social — as seen in the work of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Leonard Da Vinci, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Egypt – The First Internet Revolt? (Xiaolin Zhuo, Barry Wellman and Justine Yu).

We discuss the many ways in which information and communication technologies facilitated the January 2011 Egyptian revolt. We argue that mobile phones, Facebook, et al provided a means of modernity, reduced alienation, and helped both internal and external connectivity. In addition to the role of ICTs, We discuss the roles of informal networks, formal groups, and elite acquiescence.

[Peace Magazine, July 2011 (27, 3): 6-10]

Experiences in the Use of a Media Space (With Marilyn Mantei, Ronald Baecker, William Buxton, Thomas Milligan, Abigail Sellen).

About the design and use of the Cavecat and Telepresence desktop videoconferencing systems.

[Pp. 372-78 in Groupware: Software for Computer-Supported Cooperative Workedited by David Marca and Geoffrey Bock. Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society Press, 1992.]

How Canadians’ Use of the Internet Affects Social Life and Civic Participation (With Ben Veenhoff, Carsten Quell and Bernie Hogan).

This article uses survey results amassed by Statistics Canada and the Connected Lives project in Toronto to explore the role of the Internet in social engagement and the opportunities it represents for Canadians to be active citizens. It finds that Internet users are at least as socially engaged as non-users. They have large networks and frequent interactions with friends and family, although they tend to spend somewhat less in-person time and, of course, more time online. An appreciable number of Internet users are civically and politically engaged, using the Internet to find out about opportunities and make contact with others. Rather than being a separate “second life”, the Internet is firmly and increasingly interwoven with the fabric of Canadian society.

Connectedness Series, Statistics Canada, December 2008. ISBN: 978-1-100-10914-5 ISSN: 1492-7918]

Muslim Women On-Line (By Susan Bastani).

How Muslim women in North America use the Internet to find community and support.

[Arab World Geographer 3 (1), 2000: 40-59.]

Social Connectivity in America – Changes in Adult Friendship Network Size from 2002 to 2007 (Hua Wang and Barry Wellman).

There is some panic in the United States about a possible decline in social connectivity. We use two American national surveys to analyze how changes in the number of friends are related to changes in Internet use. We find that friendships continue to be abundant among adult Americans between the ages of 25 to 74 and to have grown from 2002 to 2007. This trend is similar among Internet non-users, light users, moderate users, and heavy users – and across communication contexts: offline, virtual only, and migrating from online to offline. Heavy users are particularly active, having the most friends both on- and off-line. Intracohort change consistently outweighs cohort replacement in overall growth in friendship.

[American Behavioral Scientist, 53 (8): 1148-69, 2010. DOI: 10.1177/0002764209356247]

Social Connectivity in America – Appendices (Hua Wang and Barry Wellman).

Additional tables to the Social Connectivity in America paper (see above).

Sousveillance – Inventing and Using Wearable Computing Devices to Challenge Surveillance (with Steve Mann and Jason Nolan).

[Surveillance & Society 1(3): 331-355.]

The Internet, Technology and Connectedness (Barry Wellman, Amanda and Venessa Garofalo).

We use evidence from the 2009 Telus Canadians and Technology survey to show that Canadians believe that information and communication technologies (ICTs) — the internet and mobile phones — are supporting and enhancing interpersonal connectivity. ICTs enable extra contact within families, allowing couples both to touch base and coordinate their busy lives. ICT use is not replacing in-person family contact, but supplementing it. ICTs are no longer a novelty, but integral parts of peoples daily lives.

[Community Vitality, Transition 39(4), 2009: 5-7]

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