Have I Mentioned I Don't Like Putnam?

Really, I don't. One of the silliest non-fiction books I've read in years simply must be Bowling Alone. Oceans of data are marshalled and then misused to claim that people are opting out of community involvement.

Maybe, just maybe, people don't like to bowl anymore because there are ever more numerous ways to be engaged with others. But never mind that! People are going on fewer picnics! Don't you understand how dangerous this is? Nevermind that kids are signed up for a far wider range of extra-curricular activities nowadays. Karate, chess camp, soccer, little league...none of that is important when the rolls of the Boy Scouts aren't increasing as fast as they once were.

Feh. I can only keep that up for so long.

Add to this argument, however, this new paper, "The Strength of Internet Ties." (Via the Complexity and Social Networks Blog.)

Disputing concerns that heavy use of the internet might diminish people’s social relations, the report shows that the internet fits seamlessly with Americans’ in-person and phone encounters. With the help of the internet, people are able to maintain active contact with sizable social networks, even though many of the people in those networks do not live close to them. The report highlights how email supplements, rather than replaces, the communication people have with others in their network.

Meanwhile, the reception for Better Together was appropriately lukewarm. Perhaps that was because it's an anecdote-drivin little work that still seems to miss the point. It mentions Craigslist, but focuses on things like town art shows and interpretive dance.

Hmmmm. Ever wonder about those noisy little objects all the students seem to be carrying around? Ever wonder why people have to demand that they be shut off or put on silent? Here's a suggestion: about taking a look at the size and breadth of the cell phone market to get even a small insight on just how much people contact each other.


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This page contains a single entry by published on January 30, 2006 9:15 AM.

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