p91-wellman - Barry Wellman DESIGNING THE INTERNET N S FOR...

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Ubiquitous computing is not only influencing our lives, but our livelihoods. Indeed, traditional career choices and paths will require fundamental attitude adjustments. COMMUNICATIONS OF THE ACM May 2002/Vol. 45, No. 5 91 global reorganization of the social order, this turn toward a networked society should continue. However, there is still a significant possibility that the global response to the attacks will lead to less mobility of people and goods and a general draw- ing back into the perceived safety of bounded groups. In a networked society, boundaries are more permeable, interactions are with diverse others, links switch among multiple networks, and hierar- chies are flatter and organizational structures more complex [10, 12]. People in networked societies live and work in multiple sets of overlapping rela- tionships, cycling among different networks (see Figure 1). Many of the people and the related social networks they deal with are sparsely knit, or D ESIGNING THE I NTERNET FOR A N ETWORKED S OCIETY Barry Wellman The developed world is in the midst of a paradigm shift in the ways people, organizations, and institutions are connected to one another. Our social systems—at work and home and elsewhere—have moved from being bound up in hierarchically arranged, relatively homogeneous, densely knit, bounded groups to being social networks. Unless the hos- tilities following the attacks on New York and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., last September 11 ultimately yeild substantial domestic and Having moved out of confining local communities and work groups, people worldwide now involve themselves in far-flung, Internet-enhanced social relationships with friends, family, workmates, and neighbors.
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physically dispersed and do not know one other. The shift from groups to social networks has many manifestations, ranging from interpersonal to inter- national. Employees (especially professionals, techni- cal workers, and managers) report to multiple peers and superiors. Work relations spill over nominal work group boundaries, often connecting employees to outside organizations. Management by network has people reporting to shifting sets of supervisors and peers, even to nominal subordinates. Organizations form complex networks of alliance and exchange, often in the form of transient virtual or networked organi- zations. Trading and political blocs have lost their monolithic character in the world system. Computer networks and social networks resonate with one another. Because the developed world had begun transforming itself into a networked society in the 1960s, the Internet could take root in the 1990s. In return, the Internet’s flexible openness to intermittent communication with all comers encouraged the ongoing transformation of work and community into social networks. How did this shift in turn facilitate the prolifera-
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p91-wellman - Barry Wellman DESIGNING THE INTERNET N S FOR...

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