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

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

Second Edition

December 2017 | 288 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

What does it mean to live in a superconnected society? 

Superconnected: The Internet, Digital Media, and Techno-Social Life, Second Edition brings together the latest research from many relevant fields to examine how contemporary social life is mediated by various digital technologies: the internet, social media, and mobile devices. The book explores such topics as how digital technology led to the modern information age, information sharing and surveillance, how digital media shape socialization and development of the self, digital divides that separate groups in society, and the impact of digital media across social institutions. The author’s clear, nontechnical discussions and interdisciplinary synthesis make Superconnected an essential text for any course that examines how social life is affected when information and communication technology enter the picture.

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. For more on the author and for instructor resources, visit her book blog at


About the Author
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

A Deep, "Dark" Web Is Also Born

Wireless and Mobile Communication

Early Online Networking

Full-Featured Social Network Sites (SNSs) 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

Accuracy, Inaccuracy, and the Rise and Transmission of “Fake” News and 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 Life Span 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

The Human-Machine Connection

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

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

Also available as a South Asia Edition.

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ISBN: 9781506394855