Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman both experts in technology co-wrote the book Networked: The New Social Operating System. Lee Rainie, a graduate of Harvard University and has a master’s degree in political science from Long Island University, is the director of internet and technology at the Pew Research Center. Barry Wellman, researches social network theories and virtual communities. “He directs NetLab, is the S.D. Clark Professor at the Department of Sociology, is a member of the Cities Centre, and the Knowledge Media Design Institute, and is a cross-appointed member of the Faculty of Information”. Networked was written to the general public and those interested in technological advances and connectivity over the internet.
Content and Methodology
Networked is divided into three sections: The Triple Revolution, How the Networked Individualism Works, and How to Operate in a Networked World, Now and in the Future.
The Triple Revolution pertained to the social media revolution, the internet revolution, and the mobile revolution. These three revolutions led to more advances in society and changes in the American culture to implement the use of ICT’s and create more individualism online. Individualism was the reoccurring theme throughout Networked. Rainie and Wellman have a positive outlook on the advancements in technology and reconsider the thought of isolation. Instead of seeing a person on his or her phone as aloof, one “can be physically in one place while their social attention and communication focus is elsewhere.. Called ‘absent presence’”. The authors argue that the emerging opportunities to create individualism in the virtual world has also created more opportunities for individuals to expand connections through common interests.
Although the technological world has advanced and increased the individual’s cultural experiences and broaden the online experience, personal relationships have been neglected and altered. The Networked individualism looks at five aspects of a person’s life: relationships, families, work, creators, and information. Families are able to easily access one another at anytime of day almost anywhere, but now families are potentially identified as core networks. Due to the shift in culture from door-to-door (a network system built in the neighborhood) to person-to-person contacts (a broad range of networks created from the technological advances), family members are spending more time on a screen than in the present. Balancing relationships is now hard to do with the new technology, but balance is possible.
The last section, How to Operate in a Networked World, Now and in the Future, focuses on the warnings of technology. The warning guidelines are helpful reminders to to be more conscientious of the existing relationships and balance life on and off line. Some of the warnings include: controlling your social media to manage your reputation, manage time well on social media (have a purpose to be online.) , do not overshare (oversharing enforces the feeling of zero privacy.), and be aware of the invisible audience (there are sinister people online, business competitors, and others who want to know many things about the individual. Although these audience members have gathered plenty of data to target the individual, he or she should not overshare and stay conscious of how social media is used.). The coauthors also highlighted six literacies to help the individual become more aware, nimble, and focused on oneself and his or her online usage in the ever changing culture today.
Networked provided great insight on personal identity on technology. However, Rainie and Wellman also discussed the negative effects technology has on family structures and relationships today. Networked mainly focused on the positive effects and briefly looked at the negative effects. The chapter Networked Creators resonated with me well. This chapter reflected me and the American culture’s perception of social media to express one’s self, connecting with a community, and some individuals’ hope to gain glory. While the individual creates his or her own network, filtering information is equally important. Through the use of statistics, the coauthors were able to articulate the accelerated shift in the the technology and America’s culture. They brought up many points to support and awaken the individual to these changes. Technology will not be going away anytime soon, one should take the opportunity to learn about the future and how to grow with technology in a healthy way, rather than allowing technology to control everyday life.
“Barry Wellman.” NetLab, WordPress, groups.chass.utoronto.ca/netlab/barry-wellman/.
Suh, Michael. “Lee Rainie.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 24 Jan. 2015, www.pewresearch.org/staff/lee-rainie/.