The “Cyborg” side of things

It’s just stone flattering to know that others have taken the time to read our book and it’s beyond flattering to see that they have taken the time to say smart — and quite nice — things about it.

The review by Jenny Davis on the impressive and important Cyborgology site is thoughtful and fair. How can you not like passages like these:

“The book has several strengths, but I want to highlight two.

“1) First, the theoretical contribution of networked individualism cannot be understated. This gives us a language with which to discuss a shift away from the group, without devolving into a narrative of rugged individualism. It breaks the false dichotomy between individual and group, and eloquently describes the complex reality in which we live.

“2) The second strength lies in the data. The authors combine extensive statistical analyses of large random and non-random samples, with in-depth qualitative anecdotes, and poignant personal accounts. This elegant mixed methods approach is the standard of rigor that social scientists ubiquitously herald, but so rarely achieve. This work is a literal reference guide to the empirical realities a networked era.”

She also notes in the way of mild criticism that 1) the book’s tone leans towards optimism about the social impact of technology and 2) we could/should have wrestled more with some of the theoretical implications of the communications revolutions we cover. Even in that, though, she’s quite forgiving.

By way of explanation, I’ll offer that both Barry Wellman’s data and Pew Internet’s are a bit more positive than not about the impact of technology, though there are plenty of cautionary notes to sound. And I’ll take the fall for the dearth of theoretical work in our book. Theory building is our territory at Pew Internet, which we bill as a “fact tank.” Barry had to go along for that restricted ride as the price for working with me. However, I would love to see what he’d say on the issues Jenny raises.

Her review will be followed soon by one by PJ Rey, which should be fun.

I first got to “know” him and learn of his work after he took a lot of time to respond to Pew Internet Project queries of experts about the future of the internet. I tweeted about his wry aphorisms about the future of gamification and he mingled happily with twitter-critics and fans who responded to his views.

So, thanks so much to Jenny for making my week and preemptive thanks to PJ for whatever he ends up writing.

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