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Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives

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Celebrated scientists Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler explain the amazing power of social networks and our profound influence on one another's lives. Your colleague's husband's sister can make you fat, even if you don't know her. A happy neighbor has more impact on your happiness than a happy spouse. These startling revelations of how much we truly influence one anoth Celebrated scientists Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler explain the amazing power of social networks and our profound influence on one another's lives. Your colleague's husband's sister can make you fat, even if you don't know her. A happy neighbor has more impact on your happiness than a happy spouse. These startling revelations of how much we truly influence one another are revealed in the studies of Dr. Christakis and Fowler, which have repeatedly made front-page news nationwide. In Connected, the authors explain why emotions are contagious, how health behaviors spread, why the rich get richer, even how we find and choose our partners. Intriguing and entertaining, Connected overturns the notion of the individual and provides a revolutionary paradigm-that social networks influence our ideas, emotions, health, relationships, behavior, politics, and much more. It will change the way we think about every aspect of our lives.


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Celebrated scientists Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler explain the amazing power of social networks and our profound influence on one another's lives. Your colleague's husband's sister can make you fat, even if you don't know her. A happy neighbor has more impact on your happiness than a happy spouse. These startling revelations of how much we truly influence one anoth Celebrated scientists Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler explain the amazing power of social networks and our profound influence on one another's lives. Your colleague's husband's sister can make you fat, even if you don't know her. A happy neighbor has more impact on your happiness than a happy spouse. These startling revelations of how much we truly influence one another are revealed in the studies of Dr. Christakis and Fowler, which have repeatedly made front-page news nationwide. In Connected, the authors explain why emotions are contagious, how health behaviors spread, why the rich get richer, even how we find and choose our partners. Intriguing and entertaining, Connected overturns the notion of the individual and provides a revolutionary paradigm-that social networks influence our ideas, emotions, health, relationships, behavior, politics, and much more. It will change the way we think about every aspect of our lives.

30 review for Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives

  1. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    There are a number of things I’ve been thinking about lately and quite a few of those things are discussed here in this book. So, in a sense I should have found this much more interesting than I did. Overall, I was a little disappointed even though I think this book has an important message and has interesting things to say about a number of incredibly important issues. If I had written this book… It is hard to say just what the perfect society might be for humans, but what we have today seems pre There are a number of things I’ve been thinking about lately and quite a few of those things are discussed here in this book. So, in a sense I should have found this much more interesting than I did. Overall, I was a little disappointed even though I think this book has an important message and has interesting things to say about a number of incredibly important issues. If I had written this book… It is hard to say just what the perfect society might be for humans, but what we have today seems pretty close on a number of counts. We live longer now, a larger number of us live (potentially, at least) worthwhile lives that we have some measure of control and choice over, and compared to any other time in history we are probably less likely to die from random acts of violence. However, paradoxically, we probably feel less happy and less in control of our lives today than our ancestors ever did before. I think a lot of this has to do with our feelings of connected and disconnectedness. We like to think of ourselves as ‘individuals’. We are attracted to stories of those who go off on their own – monks or Jesus into the wilderness or Nietzsche’s Zarathustra living in his cave and coming down from the mountains – and then for these loners, purified by their social isolation, to somehow come back to us and to tell us of the path, of the way. A foundational myth within our culture is that society itself is insane and that it is only individuals (and even then only certain and of necessity very few individuals) who are in fact both wise and sane. As Nietzsche himself puts it, “Madness is rare in individuals, but in groups, parties, nations and ages is it the rule.” However, we forget (or overlook the fact) that human individuals don’t really exist, at least, not the romantic individuals of these myths. I think part of the appeal of these myths is that we tend to be confused by the fact that we are constrained to look out at the world through a single set of eyes and that it is this optical illusion that deludes us into forgetting how much we are shaped and defined by the society we find ourselves immersed within. Surveys have been done that show not only that we are remarkably well connected with all other humans – the idea of ‘six degrees of separation’ has become a cliché – but also other surveys show that if your friend’s friend loses weight then you are also likely to lose weight. The friends of our friends play more of a role in our lives than we might ever want to imagine – so much so that if you are looking for a new partner (sexual or otherwise) a good strategy is to join Facebook and start flicking through the profiles of your friend’s friends. Throughout history that one step remove has been the most likely source of our partners. We have also come to think of the world as hierarchical. We think of the world as having the President of the USA on the very top (or maybe Rupert Murdoch, if I’m feeling particularly disheartened) and we then shimmy down the branches of the great tree until we find ourselves at the roots somewhere in an African or in a Latin American slum, you know, inhabited by the sorts of people that even if a million of them were to die it would not generate the news print of a particularly bad rail accident somewhere in the first world. (Think I exaggerate? http://www.avert.org/worldstats.htm) We like to think in symbols – we like to think in simple schemes. So, if we can think of all Orientals as Muslims and of all Muslims as terrorists and fanatics and all terrorists and fanatics as not like us, well, it simplifies and justifies both our current mistreatments of ‘them’ and our refusal to do anything, to make any change. We have created simple dichotomies (us = good, free, moral, superior; them = bad, fanatical, misguided, childlike) and with these schemes we are able to overlook any atrocity that is committed in our name and by our hand. But what if we were to move away from hierarchical structures and simple dichotomies and toward building and strengthening the networks and connections that already exist between people. Because so many of our current myths are directly opposed to such an idea. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZg8a0... How would you react to the challenge of The Third Man? Tax free or not, the lives of others are not the same as the lives of ants, even if they do prove hard to comprehend at anything like a little distance. In a week where a madman has cut a scythe through so many images that cluster around US democracy – a 9/11 child, a judge, a Jewish congress woman, a pair of grandparents – the paradoxes and contradictions and confusions of who is valuable and who is not, who should live and who die, who counts and who does not, have all become messy and confused in ways of aching complexity. As much as I would like to endorse Obama’s words, “Let's make sure it's not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle” or to believe with him “that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us”, a few things I have witnessed this week help to confound that hope. When Sarah Palin says, “Don’t retreat. Reload” or when she produces a poster with gun sights marking the states were she wishes Republicans to defeat Democrats in elections, I struggle to see these actions of hers as anything but an incitement to murder, as an incitement to her supporters to shoot her political adversaries. When she is then outraged that people might take her actions or her words or the images she has produced on their face value, I can only conclude that either she is utterly disingenuous or that she and I live in completely incommensurable worlds. To put that in plain language, I can’t help feeling that she is either a liar or that we simply don’t speak the same language. And when you watch the first moments of Obama’s speech http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztbJmX... it is difficult not to feel for him as he tries to control the audience, an audience so unsure of how to react at such a time, in such a circumstance. An audience that can only think to cheer. It is sad, almost sad beyond words, but we seem to have become a world that has forgotten that silence speaks louder and is more articulate than applause. What this book teaches us is that normalising behaviours is incredibly powerful within our societies. If we choose to normalise hatred and anger and fear we will get one particular type of society. Nevertheless, there is an alternative. This book looks at experiments such as the Milgram prison one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_...), but also at other experiments showing how acts of altruism spread. This book offers hope – hope that if we can view others as people, rather than categories or types, perhaps we can avoid inflicting the ever-increasing electric shocks onto a screaming other. And as in the Seven Up series, we will quickly see that people are rarely fully defined by their class or the box we might like to place them in – that learning anything about people at all displays their remarkable diversity and that is what we must embrace – it is our sole life line. The most fascinating experiment in this book is told around Second Life – a computer site I’ve avoided like the plague for fear of it erasing too much of my first life. All of this section of the book is fascinating (not least the ‘affairs’ committed in cyberspace, with virtual sex tracked by virtual private investigators leading to actual divorce), but what I found infinitely more interesting was the fact that when they allocated people avatars in cyberspace at random, avatars of a different sex to the physical sex of the ‘player’ – the player’s behaviour (including how close they might stand to other players and the likelihood of ‘eye contact’ they would hold) morphed to be identical to that of the socially appropriate behaviours of any other member of that socially constructed gender to which they had been assigned. I have to admit that I found this surprising, but I don’t for a minute doubt its veracity. This book also refers to The Wisdom of Crowds, a book that has convinced me we need to ensure greater and in fact unconstrained diversity if we are to have a future – diversity of opinion, of life style, of belief. Somehow we need to find ways to increase the access and voice of those who in our society remain outside and voiceless. We need to challenge the masks we ourselves wear, particularly those we don’t even know we have on; like gender, class, nation and race. Perhaps the only way to liberate ourselves from the faux individualism that dresses us up in our various identities is to recognise the power of the forces shaping us and the equally remarkable power we have to affect change, not only in ourselves, but also in those around us and those around them. With our good actions we can literally make a better world.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Margie

    I've read a couple of reviews by professionals, and have been really surprised that everyone focuses on the content, and no one mentions how poorly organized the book is. The data is very interesting and compelling. And the authors aren't bad writers. But I'm simply stunned that people who talk about using visualization software to map the topology of social networks can't come up with some workable, organized map of how to present their findings. They seem to rely on having interesting anecdotes I've read a couple of reviews by professionals, and have been really surprised that everyone focuses on the content, and no one mentions how poorly organized the book is. The data is very interesting and compelling. And the authors aren't bad writers. But I'm simply stunned that people who talk about using visualization software to map the topology of social networks can't come up with some workable, organized map of how to present their findings. They seem to rely on having interesting anecdotes and studies to report, rather than having a clearly articulated plan for conveying the information. There were many, many points at which I found myself wondering whether the conclusions presented were drawn directly from some research or were merely interesting thoughts the authors had. I finally got so frustrated that I quit the book about halfway through. Fascinating stuff. And if one doesn't care a whit about how the information is presented, one might enjoy this book. I now have a copy I'm willing to pass on.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erika RS

    This book had some great information packed inside of a repetitive package that wasn't very sticky. Once you picked up the key ideas, most of the conclusions followed in a fairly obvious manner. The key ideas or, at least, the ones that I remember, were: - Network influence tends to travel three degrees before shrinking to statistical insignificance. You influence your friends, friends' friends, and friends' friends' friends, and they influence you back. The strength of influence decreases with e This book had some great information packed inside of a repetitive package that wasn't very sticky. Once you picked up the key ideas, most of the conclusions followed in a fairly obvious manner. The key ideas or, at least, the ones that I remember, were: - Network influence tends to travel three degrees before shrinking to statistical insignificance. You influence your friends, friends' friends, and friends' friends' friends, and they influence you back. The strength of influence decreases with each separation, but the number of people influenced increases. - Network effects are real. They persist even once researchers account for other sources of similarity in the network such as homophily (the tendency for like to be connected to like) and common external factors (people near each other in the network may share experiences). Everything travels across the network -- ideas, emotional state, behavior, disease, etc. -- and because of the three degrees of influence rule, you only have limited control over what you are exposed to and who you can influence. - Not all network ties are equal (weak ties and strong ties). The most important information tends to come from ties that are distant or weak. This is because you have a pretty good idea of the information held by those connected with close, strong ties. For example, people tend to find jobs and relationship opportunities through distant or weak ties because they have generally already evaluated the opportunities presented by their strong, close ties. Distance brings information that you have not already incorporated. Once you know these principles, much of the rest of the book becomes fairly straightforward. The authors did present some compelling information in their discussion of the internet. Based on studies that they and others have done, they concluded that relationships on the internet tend to be largely the same as traditional relationships. The mix may have changed (more weak ties, perhaps) and the means of network maintenance have certainly changed, but, for better and worse, people are still largely the same creatures. Overall, I am glad that I read this book. The information was interesting even if the presentation was less than gripping. The information in the book consisted almost exclusively of real studies, so the conclusions seem well founded, even if not surprising.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    The Superorganism. We've animated! We've vivified. Social Media, social networking, geolocation, Goodreads, bookmarking, news aggregators, RSS feeds, it goes on and on. We've layered ourselves in so many overlapping, four-dimensional, self-annealing, anfractuous networks that we exist as single honeycombs in a living hive of millions. There are invisible lines that leave your body and connect to other people in ways you can't even represent on paper, exploding outward in fractal, logarithmic ste The Superorganism. We've animated! We've vivified. Social Media, social networking, geolocation, Goodreads, bookmarking, news aggregators, RSS feeds, it goes on and on. We've layered ourselves in so many overlapping, four-dimensional, self-annealing, anfractuous networks that we exist as single honeycombs in a living hive of millions. There are invisible lines that leave your body and connect to other people in ways you can't even represent on paper, exploding outward in fractal, logarithmic steps to the rest of the world. These connections can be both perennial or ephemeral, durable or solvent, obvious or perplexing, and usually several types at once. But, they are as essential--though seemingly unrelated--to the same organism as kidneys and a hypothalamus. We know what it means to have Six Degrees of Separation between us, ala Kevin Bacon. Connected now presents us the next maxim in the formula that defines the Superorganism. There are 'Three Degrees of Influence,' no more, and generally no less. In other words, you are influenced most by your first degree of friends; next by the second degree of friend's friends; and finally by a third degree of friend's friend's friends. You don't even know those people, and yet, using repeatable mathematical rigor, the experiments show that we are ultimately affected by Three Degrees of Influence. Sure, it's less influence at each degree, but the unknown people in your myriad networks yield a certain, empirical influence over your actions. I shit you not. For my new friends on Goodreads, that means my buddy from high school has a new work co-worker that now, from Three Degrees of Separation, can influence your thoughts, decisions, and attitudes. It seems absolutely ridiculous, but the PhD authors have employed CRAY 1 supercomputers to cull trillions of nodes and billions of interactions, and have arrived at numbers that are amazingly replicable--and replicable over networks of different kind, shape and form. In a network of thousands of people there are bizarre clumpings of obesity, depression, athleticism, obsessive-compulsion, white collar crime, hyperlipidemia, and political persuasion. Some of these seem intuitive, but how the heck can my high school buddy's new co-worker affect your triglycerides? Is it possible that your ex-lover's new partner should affect my diet! "No," you say. WRONG. And here's the book to prove it. Connected presents more material than just a proof of Three Degrees of Influence. The book explains how and, more importantly, why humans live in these networks. This is not an anthropological study, but there are some interesting tidbits about where you should be in your network (central or peripheral) when there's an unexpected outbreak of genital warts, depression, or criminal activity. You also learn to what extent social media has complicated, extended, and entangled your lives with others. As sociologists begin to plumb the data of Web 3.0, a brave new world is coming into focus, and it's a world of helpful, intriguing, unbelievable connectedness. Twopointsomething rounded up to 3 stars. The book is well-paced and revealing enough. Unfortunately the publisher restrained these PhDs, making the book more palatable to America's sixth grade reading level. I would have preferred a more academic and data-based presentation. Too bad they gloss over the real mechanics of networks and how they morph around like fresh water pseudopods.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shaun

    This was an interesting read. In a nutshell, we influence people in ways and are influenced by other people in ways that might surprise us. According to the research, we exert an influence by 3 degrees, to our friends, friends-friends, and friends-friends-friends to the tune of 50% to 25% to 10%. (These aren't the exact number, just trying to give you a general idea). So we exert the greatest influence our friends, then their friends, and then their friends friends, before the effect peters out. T This was an interesting read. In a nutshell, we influence people in ways and are influenced by other people in ways that might surprise us. According to the research, we exert an influence by 3 degrees, to our friends, friends-friends, and friends-friends-friends to the tune of 50% to 25% to 10%. (These aren't the exact number, just trying to give you a general idea). So we exert the greatest influence our friends, then their friends, and then their friends friends, before the effect peters out. They compared it to a the ripples created when you drop a stone in a pond. They also talked a little about obesity, at one point suggesting that obesity may actually be "contagious" or at least work a lot like a contagion. (Sure this will get some people a little riled up.) Their purpose was not to "fat shame" but more to explore how our being overweight/obese and/or having friends that are overweight or obese impact all parties involved. It could be that if your friends are overweight, they might tend to engage in behaviors that promote weight gain and thus it's a matter of peer pressure. Or it could be that if you know someone who is overweight weight or obese and see them as good people, over time we become more accepting of overweight and obese as a whole. Basically, our social norms change so that people are more accepting of "fatness." Again, their point was not to have a debate on the merits of "body acceptance" campaigns. The point was look at how our relationships can impact even our weight over time. They covered a number of different areas, obesity being just one, but one that I as a health professional am more interested in. Again, interesting stuff.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Myers

    Only three stars for this well-researched, original and intriguing book, mainly because I was much more interested in the original and intriguing conclusions rather than the many pages of social and psychological research and anecdote. These Harvard profs doubtless want to strut their academic stuff but I would have liked (at least) more in the way of summary and signpost, For all that, fascinating, thought-provoking and one of those books that makes you think differently for ever after. Here ar Only three stars for this well-researched, original and intriguing book, mainly because I was much more interested in the original and intriguing conclusions rather than the many pages of social and psychological research and anecdote. These Harvard profs doubtless want to strut their academic stuff but I would have liked (at least) more in the way of summary and signpost, For all that, fascinating, thought-provoking and one of those books that makes you think differently for ever after. Here are some of the things I learnt from reading (and extrapolating from) this book. 1. We won't understand humans just by thinking of individuals, or yet of social class or race, So things about us are only explicable by seeing us as part of networks. For example, stock market crashes (or exuberance) are much more explained by people being influenced by the network around them, rather than the facts. 2. We affect others in many striking and unexpected ways, and these effects only die out after three degrees of separation: friends of friends of friends.Happiness, obesity, suicide, political affiliation, how piano teachers find new pupils, all show up as clusters in networks. Many things work better (health messages, evangelism) when we think of reaching a network rather than reaching a set of individuals. Persuade a well-connected person to change, and change may spread through the network; persuade someone on the edge of things, and only her or she may change. 3.. All of us instinctively seem to know or pick up our place in a given network, eg workplace, new church etc. We know if we're on the edge; we know if we're well-connected, and that knowledge affects our wellbeing. 4, Because we influence others so much (I think) it is important who speaks first at a meeting. The second speaker has the option of tweaking or agreeing (easy) or radically disagreeing (hard). If a queue of people have already agreed, it's even harder to disagree and harder still to carry the day. 5. A fruitful place to find all kinds of new relationship (romantic, business etc) is the network of your friends' friends. It's a much larger network than the one just made up of your friends, but it's also preselected to be full of possibly congenial people and both you and they are have a place to start your relationship that is superior to the cold call or the chance meeting. 6. Creative teams work well when they are (a) small and very interconnected and (b) loosely connected to others so that they can get fresh creative input. A team of people just thrown together doesn't work too well, nor does one who all know each other very well and have nothing fresh coming in from outside.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    Super interesting info, but I had already heard it all. It's already dated information and the book is really terribly organized and written. Super interesting info, but I had already heard it all. It's already dated information and the book is really terribly organized and written.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Jungco

    I found this book relevant now in 2021. With the pandemic on going, the amount of connectivity is correlated to the rate the virus is transmitted. The concept is there. However, this book was written pre social media era, so somehow it was unrelatable. But now, even people who are not technical can actually understand the concept in this book because of the amount of involvement we have with the social media in any form. This is easy to read book and hopefully can be improved with the perspectiv I found this book relevant now in 2021. With the pandemic on going, the amount of connectivity is correlated to the rate the virus is transmitted. The concept is there. However, this book was written pre social media era, so somehow it was unrelatable. But now, even people who are not technical can actually understand the concept in this book because of the amount of involvement we have with the social media in any form. This is easy to read book and hopefully can be improved with the perspective of the current social media progress. Edit. I realized later that i actually read a recent book with the same author. Haha. The recent book the Apollo's Arrow is a great book talking about the 2020 pandemic and connectivity. So yes. That's cool.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Raluca

    A rather "classical" pop-science book, using simplified research and examples to explain, this time, the interesting-ness and power of human networks. Going from prehistoric social mechanisms to digital hyperconnectivity, Christakis and Fowler make a point about how our web of human relationships ends up defining who we are. An enjoyable and well-structured read finished up with an extensive reading list for the research-oriented. A rather "classical" pop-science book, using simplified research and examples to explain, this time, the interesting-ness and power of human networks. Going from prehistoric social mechanisms to digital hyperconnectivity, Christakis and Fowler make a point about how our web of human relationships ends up defining who we are. An enjoyable and well-structured read finished up with an extensive reading list for the research-oriented.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    Because I love networks, love Stanley Milgram, love the many social network studies that make for entertaining reading, I thought I would love this book. Far from loving it, I found it extremely annoying. So much old guard evolutionary bullshit. This book deserves to be shelved with David Buss, Dawkins, and Helen Fisher. What a terrible thing to do to such a great subject.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Barry Karlsson

    In order to understand at least some of the destructive dynamics according to all misunderstandings and all the disinformation on the ongoing Covid-19 tsunami, by fake news, troll factories, rumours and homemade "evidence", perhaps this book is something to consider. Nicholas Christakis: "Connected - The Amazing Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives" On how our friends' friends' and their friends affect everything we feel, think, and do. In order to understand at least some of the destructive dynamics according to all misunderstandings and all the disinformation on the ongoing Covid-19 tsunami, by fake news, troll factories, rumours and homemade "evidence", perhaps this book is something to consider. Nicholas Christakis: "Connected - The Amazing Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives" On how our friends' friends' and their friends affect everything we feel, think, and do.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    I gave up before the end, far too repetitive and please cut the politics chat. Nice idea poor execution

  13. 5 out of 5

    Melike Beykoz

    This is an interesting book discussing how social networks effect our lives. Some highlights from the book are: • Our connections – our friends, their friends, and even their friends’ friends influence how we live, think, behave etc. • Our interconnection is not only a natural and necessary part of our lives but also a force for good. • Our connections with others effect emotions, sex, health, politics, money, evolution, and technology. And this makes us human. To know who we are, we must understand This is an interesting book discussing how social networks effect our lives. Some highlights from the book are: • Our connections – our friends, their friends, and even their friends’ friends influence how we live, think, behave etc. • Our interconnection is not only a natural and necessary part of our lives but also a force for good. • Our connections with others effect emotions, sex, health, politics, money, evolution, and technology. And this makes us human. To know who we are, we must understand how we are connected. • Social networks have the power of spreading happiness, generosity, and love. • Humans deliberately make and remake their social networks all the time. • We seek out those people who share our interests, histories, and dreams. • There is a tendency of human beings to influence and copy one another. They also copy their friends’ friends, and their friends’ friends’ friends. • Our influence gradually dissipates and ceases to have a noticeable effect on people beyond the social frontier that lies at 3 degrees of separation. • If we are connected to everyone else by 6 degrees and we can influence them up to 3 degrees, then one way to think about ourselves is that each of us can reach about halfway to everyone else on the planet. • Depression, obesity, sexually transmitted diseases, financial panic, violence, and even suicide also spread. Social networks, it turns out, tend to magnify whatever they are seeded with. • Emotions of all sorts, joyful or otherwise, can spread between pairs of people and among larger groups. • Our own anxiety makes us sick, but so does the anxiety of others. • A person is about 15% more likely to be happy if a directly connected person (at one degree of separation) is happy. • Having happy friends and relatives appears to be a more effective predictor of happiness than earning more money. • The existence of the social relationship itself may improve one’s happiness • Each happy friend a person has increases that person’s probability of being happy by about 9%. • People with more friends of friends were also more likely to be happy. • A happy sibling who lives less than a mile away increases your chance of happiness by 14% • Long-term happiness depends 50% on a person’s genetic set point, 10% on their circumstances (e.g., where they live, how rich they are, how healthy they are), and 40% on what they choose to think and do. • Each extra friend reduces by about 2 days the number of days we feel lonely each year. • On average people feel lonely 48 days per year, • Loneliness is both a cause and a consequence of becoming disconnected. • We would rather be a fish in a small pond than bigger fish in an ocean filled with whales. • Being married adds 7 years to a man’s life and 2 years to a woman’s life— better benefits than most medical treatments. • Obesity is contagious. • Connections that can make us happy can also make us suicidal. • Our health also depends quite literally on the biology, choices, and actions of those around us. • Most workers found jobs via old college friends, past workmates, or previous employers. • Knowledge is power, and knowing what the network is doing is the first step toward solving potential problems. • Voting is contagious. • Changes in technology may be altering the way we live in our social networks and may have profound effects on the way we govern ourselves. • Because we are connected to others, and because we have evolved to care about others, we take the well-being of others into account when we make choices about what to do. • People who felt a connection to God would have a way of feeling connected to others, because through God everyone is a “friend of a friend.” • The expected size of social groups in humans, based on our big brains, should be about 150.(Dunbar’s number) • Like the telephone or the fax machine, an online social network is not useful until many other people are also using it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chrisanne

    Choppy and unengaged.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marifer

    We discovered that if your friend's friend's friend stopped smoking, you stopped smoking. And we discovered that if your friend's friend's friend became happy, you became happy.” Well hello, I am sure this is not everyone´s cup of tea but I will have to say that I DO recommend this book. Quite frankly, there isn´t much for me to do during these vacations and so I decided to keep focusing on reading extra material. This book has a main simple thesis: We are all connected and with this, we lose i We discovered that if your friend's friend's friend stopped smoking, you stopped smoking. And we discovered that if your friend's friend's friend became happy, you became happy.” Well hello, I am sure this is not everyone´s cup of tea but I will have to say that I DO recommend this book. Quite frankly, there isn´t much for me to do during these vacations and so I decided to keep focusing on reading extra material. This book has a main simple thesis: We are all connected and with this, we lose individuality in some way, making us, as the quote goes, influenced by other people within our network. The book I must say, is quite short. It only consists of 9 chapters and all are incredibly well explained. No problem at all trying to understand them. “Because of our tendency to want what others want, and because of our inclination to see the choices of others as an efficient way to understand the world, our social networks can magnify what starts as an essentially random variation.” Chapter one starts of with the basics, how groups and social networks are defined and the rules that exist within them ( that we are mainly the ones who shape our network and in turn, the network shapes us as well as friends and friends friends friends affect us -known as the 3 degree influence). Chapter two follows by explaining how some emotional elements are spread (based upon evolutionary purposes, mimicry and adopting inward states). The book follows smoothly and explains several cases were this was seen (MPI for instance) . Happiness, loneliness and love are also explained, mainly based of on how networks improve our happiness or makes us feel more lonely which will in turn will make us sever our ties with other people. Chapter three mainly focuses on the finding of partners and how usually, partners are found by the three degree separation rule and is also determined by our surroundings. It also introduces interesting concepts like relative and absolute standing, the widow effect multiplexity in relationships and why men gain more when they marry than women. Chapter four focuses on smoking, drinking, the contagion of STD´s among other things. While chapter 5 focuses mainly on economics, financial crisis and supply and demand and how it is exactly that is driven by social networks. Now chapter 6, this was the chapter I was more interested on since I had taken a political science class and it talked about voting and the rationality of it as well as polarization, the network ties between politicians, lobbyists and how can they exactly be traced. I throughly enjoyed this chapter, it was highly interesting and quite frankly deepened and enriched my previous knowledge. Finally, chapters 7, 8 and 9 focus on evolutionary traits and genes which are in some part responsible of the creation of our social networks, alturism, charity cooperation, etc and introduces several types of people that help regulate the environment (cooperators, loners, free riders, etc) It also tackles several common thoughts and explains how we usually tend to behave in certain situations (experiments are shown and it touches several interesting topics like bioterror attacks, and the willingness to obey). Quite frankly, this was interesting. The only reason I am giving this 3 stars is because I sometimes found it too much. Overall though, I do recommend it and I would say there´s no need to actually have prior knowledge, which is fabulous. “If we are connected to everyone else by six degrees and we can influence them up to three degrees, then one way to think about ourselves is that each of us can reach about halfway to everyone else on the planet.”

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    I thought this was a "blah" book, and that was just because first of all, I couldn't figure out what the big idea was, and second, I felt that the idea was not developed, just iterated. The idea seems to be that we are influenced not just by the people we interact with directly, but with the people who know the people we know. A game of "three degrees of separation", essentially. Well, I didn't find that so surprising or shocking. The authors try very hard to make this idea sound groundbreaking I thought this was a "blah" book, and that was just because first of all, I couldn't figure out what the big idea was, and second, I felt that the idea was not developed, just iterated. The idea seems to be that we are influenced not just by the people we interact with directly, but with the people who know the people we know. A game of "three degrees of separation", essentially. Well, I didn't find that so surprising or shocking. The authors try very hard to make this idea sound groundbreaking, such as in the assertion that "obesity is contagious" (you tend to gain weight if people around you gain weight). The problem with all of these examples, whether it's health behavior, sexually transmitted diseases, political ideas or what-have-you, is that while the behavior itself can be traced through the networks, it was never clear to me why and how the behavior spread. If people around you start gaining weight, do you reset your values ("It's actually not so bad to be a little chubby"), or do you change your behaviors ("I don't want to gain weight like X") ? You can always make out a case either way. It also seemed to me that all the effort that went into tracing the networks between people was just an enormous amount of complicated work to prove that, well, people influence other people. It just sounded unnecessarily complicated to me. Do you really have to draw these enormous networks to find out how promiscuous high school students transmit syphilis? And haven't infectious disease specialists been tracking the contacts of patients with TBC or HIV for decades? Anyway, this book left me unconvinced and indifferent. It all sounds very high-tech, very clever, but I didn't see anything particularly original or brilliant.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dirk

    The book is very interesting as it provides a readable and intelligible introduction into studies of networks and social networks. It has been written by two promoters of social network theory. Hence you won't find any critique of the theories they promote in this book. For example the transposition of the network concepts from the natural sciences onto the social sciences remains unquestioned although there is a 100year old history of studies that criticise such transpositions. In particular, t The book is very interesting as it provides a readable and intelligible introduction into studies of networks and social networks. It has been written by two promoters of social network theory. Hence you won't find any critique of the theories they promote in this book. For example the transposition of the network concepts from the natural sciences onto the social sciences remains unquestioned although there is a 100year old history of studies that criticise such transpositions. In particular, the description of social networks as "superorganism" did not agree with me. Furthermore, it remains unclear where long established sociological concepts like group and organisation sit within the network approach argued for in this book. Also, there are inconsistencies in the place of individuals in networks, in particular when the authors introduce the notion of 'memory' into their network concept. The book however offers a vast amount of examples to support network theory. I would recommend it to everyone interested in these approaches. I keep on looking for a book that links social network theory to existing theories and concepts in the social sciences. One author who has embarked in this direction is Nick Crossley who book Relational Sociology will next on my list to read when I am ready for another book concerned with (social) networks.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Edmund

    Non-fiction is always such a risk, especially anything that could be considered pop-psychology. Connected paid off however, presenting an interesting thesis, with little page filler or rehash of psyc 101 concepts (that so many pop-psychology books suffer from) The focus is on human networks - not entirely online social media as one could be forgiven for assuming - but a thorough review of 'real life' online and political connections between groups of people. If you're one to read non-fiction to pi Non-fiction is always such a risk, especially anything that could be considered pop-psychology. Connected paid off however, presenting an interesting thesis, with little page filler or rehash of psyc 101 concepts (that so many pop-psychology books suffer from) The focus is on human networks - not entirely online social media as one could be forgiven for assuming - but a thorough review of 'real life' online and political connections between groups of people. If you're one to read non-fiction to pickup interesting factoids to share, this book is definitely recommended. Not to say Connected is trite, there is plenty of depth equally balanced with simple and interesting vignette's about people's social behavior. Chapters 1-6 are strongest, 7-9 are still interesting, however I felt like online networking probably generates enough material for an entire other book, and Connected perhaps skimmed over the topic (don't get me wrong the chapters still have some very interesting points) In summary, Connected is a relatively low-controversy, comfortable read with plenty of humor and knowledge that will surely content anyone who delves into its pages.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sean Goh

    Your friends' friends influence you more than you would think, because they form the social network in which your friends are embedded in. So it seems that weight loss groups should involve friends of friends. Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers popularised the notion of influencers and their impact. Yet it is necessary for the leaders to have followers, and social networks are no different. The wisdom of crowds works best when the guesses are independent. If not, they will likely end up influencing each Your friends' friends influence you more than you would think, because they form the social network in which your friends are embedded in. So it seems that weight loss groups should involve friends of friends. Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers popularised the notion of influencers and their impact. Yet it is necessary for the leaders to have followers, and social networks are no different. The wisdom of crowds works best when the guesses are independent. If not, they will likely end up influencing each other (bandwagon effect). Real world (corporate) interactions are embedded in networks of trust and reciprocity. Care must be taken to ensure such longstanding working relationships do not become inefficient. The telephone, and now the internet, supplement, not supplant traditional communication. They enable us to maintain larger (in both number and geographical spread) social networks. Though from personal experience it is easy to let it become a substitute. The social contract, at its core, is a trade-off of personal liberty for security. Generosity binds the network together.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jason Ray Ray Carney

    This is a wonderful book. The thesis is that we are profoundly influenced by our family, friends, and friends of friends (which sounds inane, but it's developed wonderfully), but it also emphasizes how we can influence our family, friends, and friends of friends. This book really makes you question your assumption that you are a free agent, in control of your personal beliefs, your emotional states, your physical health. But it's message is also empowering, to the extent that it amplifies your p This is a wonderful book. The thesis is that we are profoundly influenced by our family, friends, and friends of friends (which sounds inane, but it's developed wonderfully), but it also emphasizes how we can influence our family, friends, and friends of friends. This book really makes you question your assumption that you are a free agent, in control of your personal beliefs, your emotional states, your physical health. But it's message is also empowering, to the extent that it amplifies your personal decisions by reminding you that they will very likely resonate with others in ways you could not anticipate. The writers suggest that, in large part, we are a product of our social network and our location in the social network. A practical tid-bit I took from this book is that making connections with other people is much more important, complicated, and high-stakes than we might intuitively, and mindlessly, think.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andy Oram

    Most of the research in this book has already been widely reported in the popular press--a sign of its value--but like the phenomena the authors describe, the book is much greater than the sum of its parts. The carefully build a view of life from many areas of social science (while generally admitting that there are alternative ways to interpret the phenomena) and end up with one of those "big ideas" that publishers love. I'm quite willing to entertain this big idea: the ways we informally connect to e Most of the research in this book has already been widely reported in the popular press--a sign of its value--but like the phenomena the authors describe, the book is much greater than the sum of its parts. The carefully build a view of life from many areas of social science (while generally admitting that there are alternative ways to interpret the phenomena) and end up with one of those "big ideas" that publishers love. I'm quite willing to entertain this big idea: the ways we informally connect to each other defines us as people and influences our behavior profoundly. I did notice, however, that the authors moved more freely than I'd like between strong evidence supported by quantitative research and conclusions based on speculation about what caused the results.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Reviewed in the New York Times: You and Your Friend’s Friend’s Friends (October 1, 2009). this is the one that told us that we're more likely to gain weight if our friend's friend gains weight — or even if our friend's friend's friend does so, even if we've never met that person. And the correlation is often higher than weight gain between spouses. All due to social network and their intrinsic power upon the unconscious brain. Reviewed in the New York Times: You and Your Friend’s Friend’s Friends (October 1, 2009). this is the one that told us that we're more likely to gain weight if our friend's friend gains weight — or even if our friend's friend's friend does so, even if we've never met that person. And the correlation is often higher than weight gain between spouses. All due to social network and their intrinsic power upon the unconscious brain.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    very sluggish read despite some very interesting stories and statistics dispersed throughout. it read more like a textbook which immediately turned my mind off. i had to read in small doses. The information learned, I've recounted numerous times yet i would not read again. Perhaps an abbreviated or abstract form would be more desirable; at least for me. very sluggish read despite some very interesting stories and statistics dispersed throughout. it read more like a textbook which immediately turned my mind off. i had to read in small doses. The information learned, I've recounted numerous times yet i would not read again. Perhaps an abbreviated or abstract form would be more desirable; at least for me.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    The latest social science and psychology of social networks is delivered in this very readable work by Christakis and Fowler. The authors demonstrate the dynamics and importance of social networks in health, happiness, crime and addictions among many other, often surprising, findings. The implications of these insights for medicine, economics and social policy are huge. Transformative work.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    This was a good read. It reminded me of Teilhard de Chardin's theory about humankind evolving toward the Omega point. I learned a little about the mechanisms of influence among people and the description of political polarization was really good! This was a good read. It reminded me of Teilhard de Chardin's theory about humankind evolving toward the Omega point. I learned a little about the mechanisms of influence among people and the description of political polarization was really good!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Babsi

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I came across this book at my uncle's who had gotten it as a present and the title seemed very promising. I have to say, it didn't disappoint since it described how our connections influence us in different parts of our lives. So why did I give it only a 3 star rating? Well, one thing that bothered me and for which I deducted a star was that the maps that the authors are constantly referring to are dispersed throughout the book and sometimes I wasn't sure which exact map they were describing. It I came across this book at my uncle's who had gotten it as a present and the title seemed very promising. I have to say, it didn't disappoint since it described how our connections influence us in different parts of our lives. So why did I give it only a 3 star rating? Well, one thing that bothered me and for which I deducted a star was that the maps that the authors are constantly referring to are dispersed throughout the book and sometimes I wasn't sure which exact map they were describing. It would have been nice to have them above or below the description which they sometimes did but especially when they talked about the ones in color they should have at least have a page number next to the referral so you can actually go to the page and look at them while reading about them. Printing all the multicolored ones next to each other was probably done to save money which I get but their position in the book simply was confusing. If you decide to cluster them all together then at least add them in an appendix and refer to them instead of just randomly adding them in the middle of the book. Another reason, why I deducted a star was because I felt like the book was reiterating the same findings over and over again up to a point where I actually felt fed up with the repetition. I get that the authors applied their findings to different areas and did thorough research and I respect that. I also understand that in order for their findings to be valid they needed to make their premises explicit. However, I do feel that the authors could have just referred to their initial assumptions instead of reiterating them. Instead they could have focused more on the implications of their actual findings. One thing that I am still a bit unsure about is if genes influence our ability to connect with others and determine our position within the networks how can we overcome them? That being said, I think it was an informative and stimulating read that challenges assumptions and made me reflect on my own position within networks.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ida

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I first gave it 5 stars but I felt that it was possibly biased due to my revulsion after reading Crazy Rich Asians 🤣 which hightens my appreciation of it. I picked this book out years ago and abandoned it after finishing a chapter. I think I am more in the right space of mind to be able to prolong interest in reading it through. In academics, a book that is written 10 years ago is considered a weak source considering how fast technology has evolved to expand our hum I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I first gave it 5 stars but I felt that it was possibly biased due to my revulsion after reading Crazy Rich Asians 🤣 which hightens my appreciation of it. I picked this book out years ago and abandoned it after finishing a chapter. I think I am more in the right space of mind to be able to prolong interest in reading it through. In academics, a book that is written 10 years ago is considered a weak source considering how fast technology has evolved to expand our human social connection and among other things. However, the book is more interesting now in 2018 having the bigger picture of what it had earlier predicted and because of it too, it had a positive upbeat on the possibility of our hyperconnected state, which prooves to have intensified and a revised version is possibly already published. "And before we think about where we are going, it will be useful to pause and reflect on where we have been". The book builds on the thesis that we are superorganism due to being genetically wired to connect and build networks throughout our evolution that have benifitted our species. And because of it, we are deeply influenced by our connection to others. The book posit to understand oneself, one has first to understand how and why we are connected and this social cohesion/lack thereof can both be enhanced and manipulated to understand the wiring of our interconnectedness as a human network with each other that can override even skin colour, especially now in retrospection of how we choose our connection. This book has answered many of the lingering questions I have about the modern age and human behaviours within my own small network of connections.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Overall this is a book worth reading. It provides genuinely interesting insights with potentially far reaching implications for society and arguably for each of us as individuals. In my mind it's worth considering the world through this lens. The book is made of many examples of studies which show how social networks work, how we influence each other, how ideas are spread, how that links to how diseases are spread and so on. Some of the conclusions from these studies are in line with what one woul Overall this is a book worth reading. It provides genuinely interesting insights with potentially far reaching implications for society and arguably for each of us as individuals. In my mind it's worth considering the world through this lens. The book is made of many examples of studies which show how social networks work, how we influence each other, how ideas are spread, how that links to how diseases are spread and so on. Some of the conclusions from these studies are in line with what one would expect, but most other small or greater insights into networks that I think most of us wouldn't have considered. One of the primary assertions of the book is that we influence and are influenced by people we don't know (friends of friends). There is a lot of exploration of the importance of networks to human beings, generally we sacrifice some independence to cooperate with others for our protection and well being. Also challenged is the traditional economist view of self-interest as opposed to altruism. The point being, again, that we value relationships with others beyond what is economically in our interests. The idea that we give to others purely in the anticipation of a favour returned is challenged as not representing the whole picture of what motivates us. The weakness of the book is mainly its structure. The series of ideas and the studies that support them feel more like a collections of themed thoughts than a progressive series of arguments and evidence that lead to an undeniable conclusion. That said, still an interesting read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Voidy

    Connected is a good popsci book that can serve as a gentle introduction to human networks and the approaches social scientists use to study them. Far from the grand unifying theory of social networks, it's more like a plate of appetizers that help you decide whether or not you want to move to the main course. The book covers the usual ground: why habits, political preferences and even mental states can be as contagious as diseases, how the social connections we form shape us in return, how stron Connected is a good popsci book that can serve as a gentle introduction to human networks and the approaches social scientists use to study them. Far from the grand unifying theory of social networks, it's more like a plate of appetizers that help you decide whether or not you want to move to the main course. The book covers the usual ground: why habits, political preferences and even mental states can be as contagious as diseases, how the social connections we form shape us in return, how strong connections differ from weak ones and why both types are important, and so on. The narrative can be a bit meandering at the times, and the book devotes surprisingly little attention to online social networks (even though it was published a decade ago when Facebook and Twitter were already disrupting the social and media landscape), but it's an interesting read nevertheless. A word of warning though: don't take the results of studies cited in this book at face value. For example, the authors cite studies showing that [heterosexual] marriage can prolong the lives of both men and women. But a quick Google search would net you half a dozen recent publications claiming that marriage actually reduces the life expectancy in women, while still increasing it in men. I'm not saying this to cast doubt on the rigor of research in this book, but to point out that social studies in general are notoriously unreliable and all too often yield different results even across slightly different demographics.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda Sue

    Very interesting concept about how we're all connected. Here are some highlights. Most of us have 4 close friends and the number decreases as we age. Our networks affect us. Our friends affect us. We are 3 degrees of influence or contagion. There is a tendency of like to marry like. Things aren't so much by chance. We find people who are similar to us at work and through friends. Obesity is contagious, imitation and norms spread. So, it's a good idea to target groups of interconnected people to Very interesting concept about how we're all connected. Here are some highlights. Most of us have 4 close friends and the number decreases as we age. Our networks affect us. Our friends affect us. We are 3 degrees of influence or contagion. There is a tendency of like to marry like. Things aren't so much by chance. We find people who are similar to us at work and through friends. Obesity is contagious, imitation and norms spread. So, it's a good idea to target groups of interconnected people to improve healthcare. Id the hubs and social networks, not so much the poor or where they live (ie, the social determinants.) There is a chapter on politics and voting, and the advent of social media in elections. It's a few years old already and not so relevant. There are many examples and studies alluded to in this book that help explain the concepts. Connectivity is wired in our DNA. Those that formed networks had a better survival rate. Social networks are key. 150 is the expected size of the typical or normal social network. We're now hyperconnected via the internet. We conform to the group even online. The social contract keeps us safer. It's been around forever. We started in bands, then moved to villages, cities, and states. Our social connections matter more than race, gender, and other characteristics.

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