The Networked Individual

We had a pretty great discussion on the first and fifth chapters of Rainie and Wellman’s recent book, Networked: The New Social Operating System.

Here are some questions that I drafted to review what we covered.

  • What is “networked individualism”?
  • What are the “triple revolutions”?
  • Why do critics use the Internet as a scapegoat?
  • What is an ICT?
  • What are “strong ties”? What are “weak ties”?
  • How are online exchanges extensions of offline relationships? How are they distinct?
  • How has “networked individualism” altered the specific location for our relationships with others in our network? Do we always communicate with specific people in only one place?

Feel free to add any other questions…

One of the things that stuck with me is how Rainie and Wellman are challening the assumption that the Internet is ruining our relationships. When we discussed the deterioration of proper spelling and grammar in personal communications, we considered whether everything would eventually be written in a style resembling a casual, instant message.

I thought we convincingly challenged that theory by considering how our online messaging style is determined by our offline relationships. If you’re messaging a close friend, you’re going to have a casual tone with him/her, but you’re not going to write a potential employer in that same style. However, if you do land that job and you work closely with that person, the style of your communiques might change. Just like your relationship has changed.

Another issue that we considered is whether online messages are absent of all nonverbal cues, like tone, gesture, and spatial context (such as your specific location). I wonder how your offline relationship is one of those nonverbal cues.

Finally, I mentioned to a few of you about a recent book that resonates with this topic. Check out danah boyd’s It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. You can get a PDF from her blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>