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Bowling Alone

The Collapse and Revival of American Community – Robert D. Putnam

Also good to follow up with “Better together” and also on the same title theme “Alone Together” by Sherry Turkle.

Bowling Alone looks at how communities and particularly community engagement have changed a disconnection has been created. As part of this Putnam looks at the value of social capital and the importance of connectedness and why there has been a change in this way.

Bonding social capital, “networks that link people together, who are similar in crucial aspects and tend to be inward looking”.

Bridging social capital – encompassing different types of people and tend to be outward-looking.

From Better Together, more info of definition can be found here:

In the updated afterword Putnam and Hahn look at the internet and social media. They discuss the concept of alloys to “describe social networks that integrate face-to-face and virtual connections”. P417. The value of alloys and the importance of both in person and virtual interactions are intrinsically linked, however virtual interactions are poorer without any form of physical interaction. The overall headline is that both online and offline interactions are linked and richer for it, but, for example, the depth and investment of something that is more online is likely to be less. I.e. the reach might be great, those who take action is small.

They also look at the and question if social networks have helped bring communities back together, which is far more complex than appears and the causal links are difficult to tie down.

Are we communicating more but listening less?

Part of the downside of the internet is that it has created an even greater polarised society of views, but also of opportunities and the digital divide as exemplified during the pandemic.

Online is fine, but face to face is important for wellbeing etc… online creates the alone together feeling that is not good.