Networked: The New Social Operating System

Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman. MIT, $29.95 (350p) ISBN 978-0-262-01719-0
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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)
Reviewed on: 03/26/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
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