Connected The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas A. Christakis, M.D., Ph.D. and James H. Fowler, Ph.D.
Connected is about social networks both in the physical world and on the internet. The book talks about both the larger connections between people and how connections influence people in making decisions about their lives. According to the book, there are six degrees of separation between people and three degrees of influence.
There are many different ways people are connected together, both immediately and through networks. This book covers a wide spectrum of subjects; politics, money, sex, love, work, voting, and other circumstances. We learn about how a dollar bill travels, why not to seek sex on the internet, your friends can make you fat, why marriage is good for your health, and how one person can affect the voting choices of many people through their personal contacts.
The subjects being discussed are concrete and personal. I found them quite entertaining. In addition to text there are social network maps throughout the book. For example, there is a very interesting map of the strong social divide between democrats and republicans in the United States.
The first part of the book focuses on immediate social networks and their consequences for health, well being, and social status. The latter part of the book goes into the recent developments of networks on computers. Some of the social networks covered are World of Warcraft, Myspace, and Facebook.
Computer social networks are viewed as extenders of personal networks. Like the telephone and modern transportation, computer social networks extend the number of people who we can reach out to. While this may not have an immediate impact on close friendships and marriage, it does affect how we can reach out to larger groups. I found this section to be very useful. We learn how social networks increase our ability to reach out to find jobs, exchange goods, and learn more.
This book is entertaining, well informed, and well researched. It is full of gripping facts and thoughtful ideas. It made me rethink how I might use social networks on the internet and make personal connections. It is a book well worth reading. The book which I read is an advanced reading copy. The book is due out in September of 2009.