Disintegration vs. Networked Society TGIFAQ (Thank Goodness it’s Friday Asked Questions)


Sorry everyone, I’m planning to get my “presentation post” up soon but I wanted to at least provide you some of the questions I was thinking about (but we’ll adjust on the go too). No need to respond to all of  them, but I hope one them resonates with you.

1. Benkler’s book, The Wealth of Networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom was first printed in 2006. Since 2006, there has been growth and uptake of mobile internet use.While Benkler assures us that the internet is more likely to connect us than alienate us, does mobile internet use add concerns, especially in terms our interactions with our immediate surroundings? Google has an augmented reality (AR) technology on the horizon. Will it an augmented reality alienate us from reality?

2. Putnam argues that social capital is integral to civic engagement, and he felt that this type of social capital was not possible using virtual communities. Benkler argues against this from empirical and theoretical points of view.

Virtual engagement is palpable on social media platforms (Egypt’s Political RevolutionObama’s social media strategy; KONY 2012), but the real world results and actualizations varied. Do you think you need face-to-face relationships to achieve civic engagement or can weak ties/structural holes achieve this?

3. From either evidence you’ve read or your own observations, do you think families are more disconnected? Have you/Do you plan to significantly limit online access to your children up to a certain age? Why?

4. Benkler (2006) argues that the internet actually extends our networks by allowing us to make more weak ties (parallel to Kadushin’s effectancy network). Kadusin (2012) suggests that we can only manage about 650 weak ties. Do we have to worry about these new connections leading to a dystopia in a different way? (e.g. online bullying? infidelity?)

2 thoughts on “Disintegration vs. Networked Society TGIFAQ (Thank Goodness it’s Friday Asked Questions)

  1. These are great questions. I’m beginning to wonder when and where the distinctions between reality, virtual reality, augmented or hyper-reality will no longer exist in a lived way.

    When we live an augmented reality with smartphones as our external brains, is that just our reality and we know what we know and what we can find out without making a distinction? I find I struggle to remember if I’ve read a novel electronically or in paper form – the content is the reality, not the format. I support causes online and in many instances, am more engaged than I would be otherwise because I can sign a petition or give money easily, a signature or money those causes wouldn’t receive if I had to fill out a paper form or write a cheque, find an envelope and stamp, and remember to mail the darn thing. I have better relationships with (some of 🙂 my family members and I can’t really parse the relationships into virtual and in person. In fact, I was astonished to find that I hadn’t been in the same physical space with my sister for a year – we are so connected through phone and social media, that I thought it couldn’t be true. So I looked it up on my smartphone – just kidding.

    • Thanks for your insightful comments and reflections Judith! You’re right, when I think about it I’m not sure how conscious I separate virtual and real world interactions.

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