Wired to Connect

I read an interview recently in which someone said “The brain is wired to connect with other people.” Now, the fact that we are social beings, that we crave the company of others and create our identity at least in part through our interaction with others is the sort of thing that is they teach in Sociology 101.

However, this line stuck out to me in part because of its context and in part because of its diction.

The interview was part of a series of interviews with leading progressive media makers, thinkers and activists and had a decidedly “new media” tone with an emphasis on new technology and social networks. In this context this idea takes on new contours than simply saying “we are social beings.” In addition, this context makes the speakers words – her way of saying this – particularly poignant. We are not just social beings, we are “wired” to “connect.”
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Space, Place, Social Networking and Social Change

I hold onto magazines for a long time. A quick survey of my house will turn up a wealth of magazines from the past two years and even a smattering of periodicals from five or text years ago. It is something I picked up from my mom, who had wicker baskets of magazines tucked into every corner of my house growing up. We have book shelves with vast editions of National Geographic and Newsweek. I think the force of this habit, learned at a young age, has combined with two other facets of my personality to create a nearing hording mentality when it comes to these publications. I can’t read magazines cover to cover, and am constantly skipping around – which leaves me convinced that I have missed some great nugget of writing in-between unturned pages. And I love the magazine as a format. I am fascinated with the making of magazines and their history in things like political pamphlets and small presses.

All of which is a preface to my main point. I was recently flipping through an old Smithsonian magazine (fished out of a wicker basket that used to be in my mom’s house but now occupies a corner of my little apartment) and began reading about Jon Kleinberg’s research on social networks and online communities. Continue reading