Olin C. Bailey Library

Book Reviews

Networked:  The New Social Operating System
by Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman

Authors Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman provide an optimistic counter-argument to naysayers who claim that new communication technologies are destroying human communities. Networked: The New Social Operating System, begins with the story of a couple in need who were aided by both their in-person and online social networks, proving that, while communication technologies have altered many aspects of communication, they have not impeded human compassion. Rainie and Wellman attribute changes in modern relationships to what they define as the Triple Revolution. The Triple Revolution consists of the Social Network Revolution (changes in organized human interaction), the Internet Revolution, and the Mobile Revolution. The authors give a brief history of each before explaining how all three come together and shape how relationships are built and maintained. The book ends with a discussion of how readers can best use all aspects of the triple revolution in their own interactions. Networked is a great read for both technology and sociology lovers!  

Reviewed by Amelia Robert

How It Began:  A Time-Traveler's Guide to the Universe  
by Chris Impey

The allusion to time travel in the title of this book is metaphorical, not literal; this wording refers to the fact that, since our view of distant stars is limited by the speed of light, astronomers (and others looking into the night sky) are "time-travelers" because they can see the past. This book refers back to this concept repeatedly as it discusses both the current state of the universe and its origins.

As the book goes on, its discussions become more technical and scientific, which may make it difficult to understand for the layman reader; additionally, the ubiquitous footnotes scattered throughout the text often act to further confuse the reader rather than to clear up potentially unclear concepts. However, this does not mean that the book is not worth a look unless you already know a great deal about the sciences. The frequent images (both pictures and phrases) found within the book can help restore clarity and understanding at times when the reader might otherwise lose track of the big picture.  The book also includes brief vignettes at the beginning and end of each chapter which act to summarize how various places and times within the universe would be experienced by an onlooker. Overall, despite the occasional delving into scientific jargon, this book acts as a quality and thorough overview of the universe as it is now and as it once was, and is worth a look by anybody interested in such ideas regardless of one's pre-existing scientific knowledge.

Reviewed by Melissa Joens



Last Modified on 1/24/2014