Snarkmarket Seminar on “Networked Individualism”
with your host… Andrew Hazlett
Rationale & discussion topics
A concept I encountered in 2012 is the new (to me) notion of “networked individualism.” I was intrigued by an article in the New Scientist (“The battle of freedom and control in a networked world”) and I’d like to dig a little deeper. The core idea seems almost self-evident: “loose-knit networks are overtaking more densely knit groups and traditional hierarchies as the dominant structure of social interaction.”
I’m interested in testing the validity of this view and considering its political and cultural consequences. Is there such a thing? Is it an accurate description? Are there good alternative views? What does networked individualism look like in concrete terms? Is this good, bad, both, neither, or all of the above?
Lee Rainie of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Barry Wellman of the University of Toronto appear to be the main proponents of the concept.
Here’s our new schedule…
Wednesday: 8pm ET – LIVE lecture! View or participate in a Google Hangout on Air as well as a Google Doc chat
Thursday: Additional discussion and, if there’s interest, I will schedule a second hangout at another time convenient to anyone who can’t make it Wednesday evening (and anyone who demands another go at it).
Saturday: I will submit a wrap-up post with my synthesis of all we discuss and discover.
Links to sources and texts
- The battle of freedom and control in a networked world – 30 July 2012 – New Scientist
- Wellman, et al. on “The Social Affordances of the Internet for Networked Individualism” in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
- Peer to Peer Foundation entry on networked individualism
- Lee Rainie podcast interview with Ian Jacobs at the W3C
To test the claims of these researchers (and fact-check our own assumptions about how people are using their tech-enabled networks), I recommend snooping around the immense pile of data gathered by the Pew Internet project. I think their reputation for detail, accuracy, and objectivity is well-justified. They have opened their data sets to any and all