Networked: The New Social Operating System. Lee Rainie, Barry Wellman. MIT Press.

Networked: The New Social Operating System Book Cover Networked: The New Social Operating System
Lee Rainie, Barry Wellman
MIT Press
April 27, 2012

Daily life is connected life, its rhythms driven by endless email paintings and responses, 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 for 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; and also requires us to develop networking skills and strategies, work on maintaining ties, and balance multiple overlapping networks.

Rainie and Wellman outlined the “triple revolution” that is brought on this transformation: the rise of social networking, capacity the Internet to empower individuals, and the always-on conductivity of mobile devices. Drawing on extensive evidence, they examined 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 change 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 Center’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.