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Book Reviews

The Hyperlinked Society: Questioning Connections in the Digital Age.
Edited by Joseph Turow and Lokman Tsui.
Ann Arbor, MI: Digital Culture Books, 2008.
ISBN–13: 978–0472050437; ISBN–10: 0472050435, xxv, 319 pages, illustrations, maps. Paperback US$24.95; cloth US$70.00.

From the foundational essays concerning blogs, connections and “attention” to the final essays on the social implications of the Web, The Hyperlinked Society, edited by Joseph Turow and Lokman Tsui, offers a scholarly exploration of varying viewpoints on what it means to be connected in the new age of social media. Topics include Web 2.0, blogs and bloggers, social capital, the concept of “weak ties” and the evolving social use, misuse, abuse and non–use of information.

One thread throughout the entire work is the impact of emerging social technologies — enablers of connection — that can create community. Any information professional or educator interested in extending the reach of the library or creating a virtual community will find useful insights in The Hyperlinked Society.

A highlight is the essay by David Weinberger, “The Morality of Links,” in which he explores the idea that links are inherently good and beneficial to everyone. In the same straight from the hip and straight from the heart style that made Weinberger’s chapter “The Hyperlinked Organization” in The Cluetrain Manifesto and his full–length Everything is Miscellaneous so accessible and thought–provoking, this chapter is thought–provoking on many levels. Via links we are citizens of a much–more connected world. This would be perfect reading for a class focused on the effects of the social Web on culture.

The concepts of hyperties is defined and explored by Marc Smith from Microsoft. Hyperties are those personal, social interactions captured and recorded by location aware devices and services, and logged just as research date might be. Smith advocates that this type of “life logging” may become widespread, a sort of “pervasive inscription revolution” where we are all co–creating everything: tagged objects, events, data, etc. These thoughts are reminiscent of discussions of the cloud computing model many futurists and technologists are expecting: a great cloud of everyone’s data that friends and “friends” can have access to for remix and reuse.

Other essays shine as well, including those that examine the changes on advertising and marketing in a 2.0 world, the effect of blogging on newspapers, and an essay focused on the digital divide and increasing use of geo–spatial data.

Overall, The Hyperlinked Society: Questioning Connections in the Digital Age would be worthwhile reading for information students, researchers and those interested in how the new interconnected world affects the self, media and society. LIS educators may find it useful as a guiding text and for class discussion in any class examining digital culture.

About the Author

Michael Stephens has been an assistant professor at Dominican University since 2006. He previously spent 15 years in public libraries, and he is currently pursuing his teaching and research in the subject of technology and libraries.

© 2009 Michael Stephens.


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