Networked Worlds & Networked Enterprises #KMWorld

KMWorld 2013Speaker: Lee Rainie, Director, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project & Author, forthcoming book, Networked: The New Social Operating System.

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2013 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

Session Description: Rainie shows how the large, loosely knit social circles of networked individuals expand opportunities for learning, problem solving, decision making, and personal interaction. The new social operating system of “networked individualism” requires us to develop networking skills and strategies, work on maintaining ties, and balance multiple overlapping networks. The “triple revolution” that has brought on this transformation: the rise of social networking, the capacity of the internet to empower individuals, and the always-on connectivity of mobile devices. Drawing on extensive evidence, Rainie examines how the move to networked individualism has driven changes in organizational structure, job performance criteria, and the way people interact in workplaces. He presents a glimpse of the new networked enterprise and way of working.

SLIDES: Here are the slides from Lee Rainie’s excellent presentation.


  • The Internet has made EVERYTHING social.
  • Networked Individualism: we have moved from tight, close-knit groups into looser, far-flung networks. Key drivers:
    • changes in family life
    • business structures and labor shifts
    • transportation and living patterns — now are friends live in far-flung places
    • identify shifts — including in politics, religion. For the first time in political polling, there are more independents than party adherents. On the religion issue: 44% of Americans are in a different religious affiliation or environment than the one in which they grew up. 20% of Americans are “Nones” = they have no religious affiliation whatsover.
    • People function at Networked individual and less as group members.
  • Personal networks:
    • are now more important to individuals that most public institutions. The exceptions to this rule are the US military, local firefighters and nurses. Trust has shifted from most public institutions and big hierarchical organizations to personal networks. People depend more on their friends than they depend on a news editor to tell them what’s happening and what’s important.
    • are composed differently in light of the network. They include friends, acquaintances, weak ties and consequential strangers.
    • have more layers
    • perform new functions — sentries of information, evaluators of information, audience that we broadcast to and perform for.
  • The impact of big technology changes
    • The rise of broadband — now 70% of Americans have broadband access. This has made them huge Internet users and has transformed them from pure audience to content publishers and broadcasters. They have dramatically overturned the established media.
    • The rise of mobile — now 91% are mobile: 56% have smartphones, 34% have tablets. There are more wireless subscriptions in the US than there are human beings. (There are several countries where there are double the number of wireless subscriptions that human beings.)
    • The rise of social networking — now 61% of all American adults are engaged in social networking. This group is across all generations. In fact, 56% of parents of teenagers have friended their children on Facebook. [Of course, the kids have now found alternative or additional social platforms that are less infested by parents.]  Among Internet users,
      • 71% use Facebook
      • 31% use Google+
      • 22% use LinkedIn
      • 21% use Pinterest
      • 18% use Twitter
      • 17% use Instagram
      • 6% use Tumblr
      • 6% use Reddit
  • The Nature of Networked Information
    • Pervasively generated and pervasively consumed — everyone is creating and consuming it. This is about to explode with the ability of mobile devices to help generate content on the fly.
    • Personal via new filters — the growing information overload demands the use of sensible filters. What’s changed is that we have greater ability to choose our own filters from a wider range of filters. We no longer have to rely on a single newspaper editor. Equally, the ability to choose filters can cause us to live in “information bubbles.”
    • Participatory/social
    • Linked
  • Networked Work
    • Not one small bounded group in a hierarchy .. simultaneous work in multiple teams
      • technology helps mediate this
    • Multidisciplinary
    • Distributed and heavily reliant on technology for communication and coordination
    • The structure of work today is very different from the Industrial Revolution model.
      • Traditional “Fishbowl” versus the new “Switchboard” model
    • What are we gaining? Access to more information, allows us to apply talents where needed, multiply perspectives on solutions, more fluid and nimble, greater potential for innovation
    • What are we losing? Trust, focus, coordination (you don’t have the benefit of hierarchy to simply order people around), loyalty, effort above and beyond, institutional memory.
  • How does this affect social intimacy?
    • It is hard to evaluate the impact of the Internet on intimacy, in part because there isn’t enough data regarding pre-Internet intimacy.

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