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Networked: The New Social Operating System Hardcover – April 27, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


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!

(Shankar Vedantam NPR Science)

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)

Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman have woven three enormous changes in the ways we connect -- the spread of the internet, mobile tools, and social 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)

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, often for the better, 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 been part of America's tech landscape for nearly as long as Google has, and five years longer than Facebook. Through that time it has earned respect and attention for its careful, systematic studies of the ways in which networked connectivity is changing some daily patterns of commercial, educational, and social interactions -- and the other long-standing human patterns it had reinforced. In Networked, the Project's leader, Lee Rainie, and his co-author Barry Wellman, build on that analysis to explain what we already know about technology's impact on our lives, what we can see coming, and where the biggest surprises and uncertainties still lie.

(James Fallows, national correspondent and technology analyst for The Atlantic)

We live in a network society. This book explains why, how, and what, on the basis of empirical evidence and rigorous analysis. This is a well-documented, well-thought, clearly written text that will become indispensable reading for professionals and students alike.

(Manuel Castells, Wallis Annenberg Chair in Communication Technology and Society, University of Southern California)

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 courses on the Internet, new media, and society.

(William Dutton, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford)

Deftly slicing through hyperbole about the communication, internet and mobile revolutions, the authors bring us face-to-face with the wellspring of modern life: the networked individual. With flair, and a dash of wry humor, they provide keen insight about how this phenomenon affects all aspects of our lives. Anyone looking to gain deeper understanding about today's social world should read this book.

(James E Katz, Director, Center for Mobile Communication Studies, Rutgers University)

From their rich history of research on the interconnected evolution of social networks, the internet, and mobile phones, Rainie and Wellman have assembled a cornucopia of facts and implications 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 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)

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)

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.

(Vanessa P. Dennen Educational Technology)

About 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 directs NetLab at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. He is the founder of the International Network for Social Network Analysis and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 358 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (April 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262017199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262017190
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #697,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jenny Davis on June 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Rainie and Wellman, using scores of data, argue that we live in a networked operating system characterized by networked individualism. They describe the triple revolution (networked revolution, internet revolution, and mobile revolution) that got us here, and discuss the repercussions of this triple revolution within various arenas of social life (e.g. the family, relationships, work, information spread). They conclude with an empirically informed guess at the future of the new social operating system of networked individualism, indulging augmented fantasies and dystopic potentials. Importantly, much of the book is set up as a larger argument against technologically deterministic claims about the deleterious effects of new information communication technologies (ICTs).

The book has several strengths, but I want to highlight two.

1)First, the theoretical contribution of networked individualism cannot be understated. This gives us a language with which to discuss a shift away from the group, without devolving into a narrative of rugged individualism. It breaks the false dichotomy between individual and group, and eloquently describes the complex reality in which we live.

2)The second strength lies in the data. The authors combine extensive statistical analyses of large random and non-random samples, with in-depth qualitative anecdotes, and poignant personal accounts. This elegant mixed methods approach is the standard of rigor that social scientists ubiquitously herald, but so rarely achieve. This work is a literal reference guide to the empirical realities a networked era.

Overall, Rainie and Wellman produce a timely and important piece of work. It offers a significant contribution to the social sciences, an indispensable tool for policy makers, and a vital contribution to the knowledge base of the networked individuals who make up present day publics.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Laura Robinson on November 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
For anyone looking for a timely new media read, this is it. For anyone looking for an excellent teaching text look no further. I'm using "Networked" in two classes. Students ADORE it--the lively style, vivid examples, and lucid arguments make for some of the best class discussions one can hope to have. FIVE STARS!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ben Shneiderman on September 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
These two towering intellects collaborate to give readers a fresh perspective on what is happening all around us. Rainie and Wellman have been studying human communication for decades, so they have the context to perceive change better than most researchers. Their characterization of the Triple Revolutions of social networks, the Internet, and mobile connectedness reveals that networked individualism is the trend to watch. The central message is the increasing capacity of individuals to act independently with great impact. The potent anecdotes and solid data make for a convincing presentation, but in the final chapter on "The Future of Networked Individualism" the authors unleash their imagination by suggesting compelling possibilities and troubling dangers.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Philip on May 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
'Networked' is a great read, about a 1/2 way through already. It reminds me of another book I love, 'Freakonomics'. It offers a new way to think about the internet, new media and society.

It confirms many of the things that we already know about how people behave and adapt to new technologies such as smartphones, the Internet, and now social networking websites. But what makes the book great so far is the well thought out analysis of how easy access to all three of these technologies are fundamentally changing the ways in which people communicate, disseminate information and interact with each other now and in the future.

It is nice to see a book about today's technological changes that can cut through all of the academic-lese and hype and helps us to make sense of our increasingly networked world. When Vint Cerf said, 'Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman have combined forces to become the new Marshall McLuhan!' in Networked, I don't think he was far from the mark.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Olszanowski on November 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Rainie & Wellman's "Networked" is one of those books that you can sit and read through on vacation but also sit down with a pen and paper and annotate to death. It provides a great commentary and analysis on the current landscape of Internet-mediated culture (including mobile phones).

I really appreciate the examples that fill the text. They are a lucid illustration of the rigorous theories and ideas presented in the book, yet also hold their own as colorful vignettes reflecting our own reality back to us. See "Interlude: A Day in a Connected Life" and you'll see what I mean.

For the sociologists, there's plenty of data and charts and quantitative stats.
For the cultural studies folk, there's plenty of discourse surrounding our usage of Internet-enabled technologies and the how's and why's of that use.

I am a PhD student in Communication Studies, and have used "Networked" in a variety of my papers and also for conference presentations. I have also recommended this to many of my students.

Specifically, the comprehensive and detailed discussion of "networked individualism" provides an important lens with which to look at society today.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I got myself Networked by Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman as a sort of Christmas present based on its good reviews on Amazon. I expected it would be a comprehensive, informational book about contemporary social structures how consumer ICTs influence them. Having read it, I can say I wasn't disappointed, even though the content turned out to be slightly different than what I had expected.

The authors explore how the shift in the structure of society from groups toward networks has been affecting how people form and maintain relationships, and how the rise of modern technologies (internet, mobile devices) comes into play.

In the first part of the book, you'll find a short analysis of each of the "revolutions", as the authors call them - the network revolution, the internet revolution, and the mobile revolution. Each chapter of the second part then elaborates in more detail on how these factors influence a specific area of our everyday life (family life, work, contact with friends, etc.). In the last part, the authors imagine two rather sci-fi scenarios of possible future development, an optimistic one and a dystopian one, and analyze which way we might be heading.

Most of the text refers to various surveys conducted by Pew Internet and several other similar groups, and the authors present quite a lot of data to support their analysis. The research data are generally from the US and Canada, but the conclusions are often applicable to similarly developed countries. I would personally prefer slightly less statistics in favor of a little more analytical commentary, as I sometimes found the text a little too descriptive, but the amount of research is digestible and if you're a fact-oriented reader, you may actually find it to be one of the book's strong points.
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