query: using the Internet to organize opinion

colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Wed Mar 31 08:16:16 CST 2004

[ed:  thanks to Gary for replying to Claudius' query.]

Colleagues, Barry Wellman and his new book probably have a lot to 
contribute to this inquiry and discussion.  I attach below Barry's own 
overview of his book, some reviews and its Table of Contents for those 
who may not have seen this on the Sociology Urban Community list 

Best wishes and peace,

Garry Hesser
Augsburg College, Mpls, MN

Date:    Sun, 24 Nov 2002 18:12:37 -0500
From:    Barry Wellman <wellman at CHASS.UTORONTO.CA>
Subject: Internet in Everyday Life

Folks, I'm proud of my new co-edited book about community on and 
Here, one time only, is some description.


  Barry Wellman        Professor of Sociology       NetLab Director
  wellman at chass.utoronto.ca   http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

  Centre for Urban & Community Studies        University of Toronto
  455 Spadina Avenue   Toronto Canada M5S 2G8   fax:+1-416-978-

_The Internet in Everyday Life_
Barry Wellman and Caroline Haythornthwaite, eds.
Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. November 2002. 588 pages.
ISBN: 0-631-23508-6
Price: USD $27.95; Euros 20.36; CdnD $44.03; BritPounds 317.95

>From the back cover:

The _Internet in Everyday Life_ brings together pioneering studies that 
systematically investigate how being online fits into everyday lives. 
Until now, the Internet has been treated and discussed as detached 
from daily life, occupying some separate sphere of social endeavor. 
This collection of original articles from leading scholars in North 
America, Asia, and Europe moves discussion of the Internet closer to 
home, showing how the Internet does not exist "out there" but is instead 
an integral part of daily work and home life.  

Contributors show who is on the Internet and what they are doing there.  
They debate whether the Internet adds to or detracts from the well 
being of individuals, communities, and societies. They demonstrate how 
the Internet affects friendship, social capital, social support, civic 
involvement, school, work, and shopping. They reveal the extent to 
which the Internet is supporting new forms of human relationships, and 
describe what gets dropped and strained when Internet hours are 
added to already full schedules.  

The book goes beyond speculation to provide solid findings. Surveys, 
interviews, and field observations inform analyses of behavior on and 
with the Internet. Taken as a whole, this body of evidence should raise 
the level of debate about the impact of the Internet and raises serious 
questions about the popular myth that Internet use increases social 

Excerpts from the Editors' Introduction,
Barry Wellman and Caroline Haythornthwaite:

_The Internet in Everyday Life_ is about the second age of the Internet 
as it descends from the firmament and becomes embedded in everyday 
life. The first age of the Internet was a bright light shining above 
everyday concerns. In the euphoria, many analysts lost their 
perspective. The rapid contraction of the dot.com economy has brought 
down to earth the once-euphoric belief in the infinite possibility of 
Internet life.  

It is not as if the Internet disappeared. Instead, the light that dazzled 
overhead has become embedded in everyday things. A reality check is 
now underway about where the Internet fits into the ways in which 
people behave offline as well as online. We are moving from a world of 
Internet wizards to a world of ordinary people routinely using the 
Internet as an embedded part of their lives. It has become clear that the 
Internet is a very important thing, but not a special thing. In fact, it is 
being used more - by more people, in more countries, in more ways.  

This book is a harbinger of a new way of thinking about the Internet: not 
as a special system but as routinely incorporated into everyday life.... 
The studies presented here begin the tasks of broadening our focus 
from the Internet to the social worlds in which it is embroiled.  

The research in this book focuses on the relationship between the 
Intern et and interpersonal relationships. It speaks to issues about th= e 
social consequences of adding the Internet to our daily lives. It explores 
how the Internet affects social and communal behaviors.  The studies 
address key questions about the impact of the Internet on friendships, 
civic involvement, and time spent with others.  

Who is online and who is coming online (and not coming)? How much 
time do they spend online? How does the Internet affect relationships 
within households, and with family, friends, voluntary organizations, 
schoolmates, and workmates?  

The research presented suggests that the Internet has accentuated a 
chan ge towards a networked society: a turn toward living in networks 
rather than in groups. The personalization, portability, ubiquitous 
connectivity, and imminent wireless mobility of the Internet all facilitate 
networked individualism as the basis of community.  

Excerpts from Manuel Castells' Preface:

This book is precious. It provides us with reliable, scholarly research
 on the hows and whats of the Internet as it relates to people's lives.

The Internet is rapidly becoming part of the fabric of our lives, not on ly 
in the advanced societies but in the core acitivites and dominant social 
groups in most of the world.... [These are] academic researchers setting 
the record straight, engaging into the exploration of a new society, our 
society, the network society.... [They describe] electronic networks that 
simultaneously coordinate decision-making and decentralize production 
and distribution throughout the planet.... [This is] a global movement 
enacted by and with the Internet.... The emerging pattern is one of self-
directed networking, both in terms of social relationships and in terms of 
social projects.  

The Internet is not just a tool; it is an essential medium for the netwo rk 
society to unfold its logic.... It is by investigating along t= he lines 
suggested in this volume that we will be able to assess its contour and 
its implications. The network is the message, and the Internet is the 

Excerpts from Howard Rheingold's Foreword:

Social scientists have pulled ahead of anecdotal evidence and armchair 
theorizing to provide significant answers to some of society's most 
important questions about social behavior via online media.... Good 
information is now available, but it's still drowned out by the noise. The 
next step is getting that news out.  

The current volume provides useful answers. Most importantly, it 
frames the right kinds of questions about the ways in which the se of 
Internet-enabled media affect everyday lives. Each chapter in this 
volume should stimulate others to ask even more specific questions, as 
all good research should.  

Now that the authors of this volume ... have established a solid 
foundation of systematic observation and theory about the ways the 
Internet influences everyday life, perhaps we won't have to rely on 
data-free philosophizing to make policy decisions as citizens and 

 >From Brian D. Loader, Journal Editor, Information, Communication &

The editors are to be congratulated for pulling together a collection of 
excellent articles that will make a valuable contribution to empirically 
grounding discussions about the effects of the Internet on our everyday 
life experiences. [Back cover]  


Foreword - The Virtual Community in the Real World, by Howard 

Series Editor's Preface: The Internet and the Network Society,
by Manuel Castells

Part I - Moving the Internet out of Cyberspace

The Internet in Everyday Life: An Introduction, by Caroline
Haythornthwaite and Barry Wellman

Part II - The Place of the Internet in Everyday Life

1. Days and Nights on the Internet, by Philip E. N. Howard, Lee Rainie,
and Steve Jones

2. The Global Villagers: Comparing Internet Users and Uses Around 
World, by Wenhong Chen, Jeffrey Boase, and Barry Wellman

3. Syntopia: Access, Civic Involvement, and Social Interaction on the 
James E. Katz and Ronald E. Rice

4. Digital Living: The Impact (or Otherwise) of the Internet on Everyday
British Life, Ben Anderson and Karina Tracey

5. The Changing Digital Divide in Germany, Gert G. Wagner, Rainer
Pischner, and John P. Haisken-DeNew

6. Doing Social Science Research Online, Alan Neustadtl, John P. 
and Meyer Kestnbaum

Part III - Finding Time for the Internet

7. Internet Use, Interpersonal Relations, and Sociability: A Time Diary
Study, by Norman H. Nie, D. Sunshine Hillygus, and Lutz Erbring

8. The Internet and Other Uses of Time, by John P. Robinson, Meyer
Kestnbaum, Alan Neustadtl, and Anthony S. Alvarez

9. Everyday Communication Patters of Heavy and Light Email Users, 
I. Copher, Alaina G. Kanfer, and Mary Bea Walker

Part IV - The Internet in the Community

10. Capitalizing on the Net: Social Contact, Civic Engagement, and 
of Community, by Anabel Quan-Haase and Barry Wellman, with James 
C. Witte
and Keith N. Hampton

11. The Impact of Community Computer Networks on Social Capital 
Community Involvement in Blacksburg, Andrea L. Kavanaugh and Scott 

12. The Not So Global Village of Netville, Keith N. Hampton and Barry

13. Email, Gender, and Personal Relationships, Bonka Boneva and 

14. Belonging in Geographic, Ethnic and Internet Spaces, Sorin Matei 
Sandra J. Ball-Rokeach

Part V - The Internet at School, Work, and Home

15. Bringing the Internet Home: Adult Distance Learners and Their
Internet, Home, and Work Worlds, by Caroline Haythornthwaite and 
M. Kazmer

16. Where Home is the Office: The New Form of Flexible Work, by 
Janet W.

17. Kerala Connections: Will the Internet Affect Science in Developing
Areas? Theresa Davidson, R. Sooryamoorthy, and Wesley Shrum

18. Social Support for Japanese Mothers Online and Offline, by Kakuko

19. Experience and Trust in Online Shopping, by Robert J. Lunn and 
W. Suman

> From:           	blau123 at gmx.de
> We are all aware that the Internet is an
> efficient medium for communication and data
> retrieval. Community building via the Internet
> needs however an additional element: opinion
> formation, also called consensus building.
> In my opinion, the usual chat and discussion-forums
> currently available are not efficient tools for
> online-opinion formation. My query to the comm-org
> members is therefore for research and information
> on this topic.
> Of course I am aware that some
> specialized communities, like the open-source
> movement, are able to realized all issues relevant
> for community via the Internet, but it is not clear
> whether their informal approach would be suitable
> for the ordinary web-user.
> The background: I am involved in a project, the
> planned Foundation Future 25 (http://www.future25.org),
> which envisions an international community organized
> dominantly via Internet. We have some preliminary ideas,
> like the `Structured Opinion-Formation via Internet'
> http://www.future25.org/structure.html#opinionFormation
> or the `Result-Oriented Discussion Forums'
> http://www.future25.org/structure.html#discussionForums
> for community-building online-tools, but you may have
> more experience with these issues.
>    Sincerely yours,
>              Claudius Gros  < blau123 at gmx.de >
> -- 
> +++ NEU bei GMX und erstmalig in Deutschland: T=DCV-
> +++ Virenschutz +++
> 100% Virenerkennung nach Wildlist. Infos:
> http://www.gmx.net/virenschutz

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