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Superconnected: The Internet, Digital Media, and Techno-Social Life

Superconnected: The Internet, Digital Media, and Techno-Social Life

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February 2016 | 272 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
What does it mean to live in a superconnected society? 

Superconnected: The Internet, Digital Media, and Techno-Social Life brings together insights about digital technology and society from the many literatures in which author Mary Chayko is immersed: sociology, communication, psychology, media, and technology studies. The result is a groundbreaking analysis of contemporary social life as it is influenced by the internet, social media, and mobile devices. Individual chapters explore topics such as how digital technology helped to shape the modern information age; information sharing and surveillance; digital socialization and development of the self; digital inequalities; global impacts; and the impact of the internet and digital media across social institutions. The author’s clear non-technical discussions and interdisciplinary synthesis make Superconnected an essential text for courses in all departments that examine how social life is affected when information and communication technology enter the picture.   It is a great choice for general readers interested in this topic as well.

Dr. Mary Chayko is a sociologist, professor of communication and information, and director of undergraduate interdisciplinary studies at Rutgers University's School of Communication and Information.  For more on the author, visit her blog at
Chapter 1: Superconnectedness
The Internet...
...Digital Media...
...and Techno-Social Life
Technology, Mediation, and the Diffusion of Innovation
Sociality, or Being Social
This Book
Chapter 2: Creating the Internet Age
A (Very) Short History of Information and Communication Technology
A (Not Quite as) Short History of Computing and the Internet
The Web Is Born
Wireless and Mobile Communication
Early Online Networking
Full-Featured Social Network Sites (SNS) and Social Media
The Triple Revolution of the 2000s
Chapter 3: Inhabiting a Digital Environment
Sociomental Spaces, Cultures, and Societies
Why Not Cyberspace?
Online Communities, Networks, and Networking
Creating Digital Environments
Reality, Presence, and Proximity
Reality and the Brain
Emotionality and Intimacy
So, What About Physicality?
The Intersection of the Online and the Offline
Chapter 4: Sharing and Surveillance
Sharing and Prosuming in a Participatory Culture
Liking and Following, and Being Liked and Followed
Ownership of Online Content
The Power to Disseminate and Publish Information
Vertical, or Asymmetrical, Surveillance
Horizontal, or Social, Surveillance
Privacy and Obscurity
Chapter 5: Global Impacts and Inequalities
Globalization and Technology
Stratification and Inequality
Cultural Divides
Hacking, Danger, Crime, and War
Finding Solutions, Bridging Divides
Speaking Back to Power: Social Organization, Movements, and Activism
The Rise of Citizen Journalism
Chapter 6: Techno-Socialization and the Self
Socialization, Self, and Identity
Development and Performance of the Self
Expression of the Self
When Identity Is Marginalized
Growing up Online and Offline
Socialization Never Ends: Socialization Throughout Adulthood
Chapter 7: Friending, Dating, and Relating
Making Digital Connections
“Chemistry” and Synchronicity
Friendship–Online and Offline
Flirting, Dating, Romance, and Sex
Trust and Social Support
Interpersonal Conflicts and Harassment
The Lifespan of Digital Relationships
Chapter 8: The Techno-Social Institutions
The Institutional “Heart”: The Family
Health Care
Work and Commerce
Education and Libraries
Politics and Governing
The Media
Chapter 9: More Benefits and Hazards of 24/7 Superconnectedness
Constant Availability
Convenience and Microcoordination
Fun, Play, and Entertainment
Multitasking and the Attention Span
Stress, Information Overload, and FOMO
Dependency and Addiction
Health and Moods
Being Plugged in…to Society
Chapter 10: Our Superconnected Future
New and Emerging Technologies
The Techno-Social Path Ahead
Our Personal Paths


Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. From kids to seniors, we are the greatest generations: communicating, networking, and creating information and media constantly and collaboratively. In this lively, wide-ranging book, Mary Chayko tells you how and why we are the most superconnected society ever.

Barry Wellman, Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto (retired), co-director, NetLab Network, and author (with Lee Rainie), Networked

Dr. Mary Chayko provides a splendid tour of how social media came to be, what they are used for today, and what they are doing for and to us. Clearly written, Superconnected makes a fine introduction to the subject for students and general readers alike.

James E. Katz, Feld Family Professor of Emerging Media, Boston University, and author (with Michael Barris and Anshul Jane), The Social Media President

Mary Chayko has crafted a most remarkable work in Superconnected. Rarely have I seen a writer at such ease in identifying and explaining both the essential techno-social building blocks of information and communication technologies and the rich, fascinating behaviors associated with them. Sharing and surveillance, emotion and presence, hacking and activism, crowdsourcing and accountability, friending and dating, multitasking and stress -- these are just a few of Chayko’s inspired and informed topics. The work of a topnotch scholar and master teacher, Superconnected is inviting and compelling, friendly and challenging, unique and vital. It is the book I have been waiting for -- perfect for any undergraduate class on information and communication technologies.

Christena Nippert-Eng, Professor of Informatics, Indiana University, and author, Islands of Privacy

Superconnected is a provocative, thoughtful and thorough examination of the contemporary digital state of affairs. It will educate, provoke and inspire readers to form new perspectives on the consequences of new media in everyday life.

Steve Jones, UIC Professor of Communication, University of Illinois - Chicago, and editor, New Media and Society

Mary Chayko's Superconnected is an indispensable, interdisciplinary guide to the complexities of life in the digital age. Engagingly written and masterfully covering a wide range of essential and nuanced topics, it is a unique text that is ideal for any reader who wants to know how our current techno-social condition emerged and the promises and pitfalls of living in it. An outstanding text that deserves to be adopted across the disciplines.

Evan Selinger, Professor of Philosophy, Rochester Institute of Technology, and author (with Brett Frischmann) of the forthcoming Being Human in the 21st Century

In Superconnected, Mary Chayko gives the reader a grand tour of the digital world. From history to hypertext, from the web to wireless, from cognition to community, from proxemics to participation to power, from the self to sharing to surveillance, from romance to rights and from group to is all here to be enjoyed in her insightful work.

Rich Ling, Shaw Foundation Professor of Media Technology, Nanyang Technological University, and author, Taken For Grantedness

Superconnected is captivating in its approach as it dispels old myths and provides new insights into the functioning of a digital society. No other text provides such in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of such a wide range of issues, weaving together theory and on-the-ground examples, and local and global understandings, of how the internet and digital media/technologies have radically transformed many aspects of modern life.

Anabel Quan-Haase, Associate Professor of Sociology and Information and Media Studies, University of Western Ontario, and author, Technology and Society

Writing in a clear and lucid style, Mary Chayko explores the impact of internet and digital media on many aspects of our lives, examining issues ranging from friending and liking to surveillance and global inequalities.  The book is highly readable, an ideal text for undergraduate students as well as the general public who are interested in such topics.

Shanyang Zhao, Professor of Sociology, Temple University

A good general overview of digital media and the internet that provides useful background reading.

Ms Heidi Colthup
Department of English & Language Studi, Canterbury Christ Church University
November 30, 2016

Provides interesting overview for students not familiar with the field. Slightly disappointing reading the book as a scholar, though. Old empirical data and not much new insights into a rapidly evolving field

Mrs Stine Liv Johansen
Communications , Aarhus University
September 23, 2016

Sample Materials & Chapters

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Chapter 4

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Mary T. Chayko

Dr. Mary Chayko is a sociologist, Teaching Professor of Communication and Information, and Director of Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Studies at the School of Communication and Information (SC&I) at Rutgers University. She is also an affiliate member of the graduate faculty of the Department of Sociology and an affiliate member of the faculty of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers. She received a B.A. in Communication and Psychology from Seton Hall University, and an Ed.M. in Counseling Psychology and M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Rutgers University. More About Author

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ISBN: 9781452268798