Barry Wellman Visits BEDUC 476 via Skype

Barry Wellman, co-author of Networked: The New Social Operating System networked

spoke to our class BEDUC 476 via Skype on Monday, February 13, 2017. It was exciting because I had never been to a class or workshop where the speaker lectures through Skype. He reviewed themes presented in his book Networked and told us about his current research projects. Here some of his ideas:

The Mobile Network Revolution in which many individuals have bought and use their cellphones is only one to one communication. This mobile phone revolution is much more individualistic than his description of the transformation of human groups becoming Networked Groups or the Internet Revolution.

More of us have automobiles, woman are outside of the home working, we take airplanes more frequently than use our cars to travel, the decrease in church attendance and the study of interracial and interfaith marriages as being widely acceptable in the United States. These studies in sociology explain the reasons why we have become so mobile and the internet has taken down a lot of cultural barriers from previous generations (not entirely).

“Glocalization” we are more aware of conflicts throughout the globe but in fact they are less frequent.

Optimistic on the more individualistic movement that has emerged since the widespread use of the internet home/workplace and Mobile Revolution.

Cellphones being used creatively outside of his studies in North America, an example being in Kenya and using cellphones to wire money to people.

I feel a lot of what Barry Wellman said was presented very well in his book which we have been reading. However, see him talk brought a lot of his ideas to life. He made a lot of jokes, used himself as an example in many explanations and is a very happy and jovial man in his mid-seventies. Although many of the things that he explained over Skype were not new to our class because we read many of the concepts in his book, there was something fun and unique about actually hearing him talk about his work. One thing that I strongly believe is lacking in many of the technology companies that are a mere ten miles from our university campus: Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook are “internet sociologists”. When Barry used this term and I learned that he is a trained Sociologists, I really connected more to his work because I am a Social Studies teacher. I have a strong understanding of Sociology and believe that as an academic field, it is not seen as important in our country. However, just like the strong push towards educating our public K-12 grades in STEM education I feel that it is important for people like Barry Wellman and educators t not set aside Sociology studies. Because if we only focus on the material items, the new technology tools being marketed to us, and learning to use our tools then the most important lessons are left out of our collective history: humans and how technology may or may not actually be improving our lives for the greater good.