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Untangling the Web [Kindle Edition]

Aleks Krotoski
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The World Wide Web is the most revolutionary innovation of our time. In the last decade, it has utterly transformed our lives. But what real effects is it having on our social world?

What does it mean to be a modern family when dinner table conversations take place over smartphones? What happens to privacy when we readily share our personal lives with friends and corporations? Are our Facebook updates and Twitterings inspiring revolution or are they just a symptom of our global narcissism? What counts as celebrity, when everyone can have a following or be a paparazzo? And what happens to relationships when love, sex and hate can be mediated by a computer?

Social psychologist Aleks Krotoski has spent a decade untangling the effects of the Web on how we work, live and play. In this groundbreaking book, she uncovers how much humanity has - and hasn't - changed because of our increasingly co-dependent relationship with the computer. In Untangling the Web, she tells the story of how the network became woven in our lives, and what it means to be alive in the age of the Internet.

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Who better to guide us through online culture than Aleks Krotoski? She has been examining this fast-changing frontier since the last century as journalist and social psychologist, and her new collection of essays is born of that long engagement with the Internet's opportunities ... [Krotoski's] informed positivity is a pragmatic way forward. (Metro)

The academia-meets-media credentials make for a tome that is both chatty and meaty. It is also free from the overplayed polemics that characterise all too many titles in this field ... [Krotoski's] combination of cautious academic rigour and geek-like enthusiasm makes a very valuable contribution to the debate and leads her to two refreshing conclusions. (Business Section Financial Times)

[Krotoski is a perceptive observer of our information ecosystem ...Untangling the Web is a collection of 17 thoughtful essays on the impact of comprehensive networking on our lives. These essays cover the spectrum of stuff we need to think about - from the obvious ones to topics to which we don't pay enough attention. Although she's a glamorous media "star", people underestimate Krotoski at their peril. She's a rare combination of academic, geek, reporter and fluent essayist. (John Naughton Observer)

Book Description

A social psychologist reveals the truth about life in the Age of the Internet

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Untangling the Web is a timely and detailed account of how the internet is changing us, and what we can do about it.

The book makes very good points about the different identities we have online, and also about the way things are changing as the anonymity of the early days of the web gets eroded, and past identities become harder to erase. It's great on the privacy implications of the web, how much people share online and how much other information can easily be discovered. And there's also a good discussion of the way the internet filters what you see based on the information that companies are building up based on your past usage:

"The commercial services that dominate the digital world - the Googles and the Facebooks - are trying to keep us brand-loyal by delivering services that meet our needs, so they confirm our biases by telling us things that we already want to hear."

This is a fascinating area, covered in more detail by Eli Pariser's The Filter Bubble. If you and I both Google "climate change", we'll get different results, and the results we see will likely reinforce our existing opinions. While it makes sense for the search companies to try to make our results more relevant, you can see the dangers of such an approach. As Krotoski puts it, "The vast ocean of information online is increasingly navigated by packs of like-minded people who really only see a little slice of what is available on the web." I'm not sure what a slice of an ocean looks like, but you get the point.

Krotoski returns to the point in a later chapter looking at extremism. The effect of what she calls "cyberbalkanization" is often pluralistic ignorance - the belief that everyone else thinks as we do.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The web has crept into our lives over the past 20 years or so and while studies have been done into the effects on our lives, there's not much been written for the general audience. Aleks has a research background and draws from previous work that she's done from writing and podcasting for The Guardian and putting together a BBC TV series on the internet to put this together. It covers various subjects such as death, our brains and relationships. It's really clear and well written. You can see the depth of background research in each subject and a while variety of people have been interviewed or quoted. If I had one small complaint it's that it's too short, but there's a lot of "further reading" available on her website and blogs.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sense and sensibility about the web 21 Sept. 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Aleksandra "Aleks" Krotoski is an American academic and journalist who now works in the UK where she lives with Ben Hammersley, another commentator on IT who has recently written "64 Things You Need To Know Now For Then". She is quite unusual in spanning the worlds of both academia and media and the result is that she writes well and bases her material on evidence. I enjoyed her series of columns for the "Observer" newspaper and her BBC series "The Virtual Revolution" and this book is based on her research and her articles and lectures over the previous 13 years. Consequently it covers many aspects of the Internet but has no overarching theme or narrative and it is so sensible in its conclusions that it is not particularly exciting.

The first section - the shortest - is titled "Untangling Me" and contains chapters on how one can play with identity online, how our online presence can live on after our death, and how the web may (or may not) be affecting how we think. Krotoski warns that "every technological innovation introduces new behaviours that are pathologised by anxious people" and she points out that the web has only been around for two decades: "It's way too early to really identify any long-term trends, good or bad".

The second section is headed "Untangling Us" and features chapters on how online communities confirm our sense of social identity, how the web allows us to explore more freely our sexual identity, how children spend so much time on social networking sites, how friendship is handled online through sites like Facebook, how more and more people are finding partners online, and how the Net facilitates bullying, insults and hate speech.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An excellent analysis of the what's happening on the world wide web from a well respected author.

Well written and well researched this book is a must read for everyone living in the 21st century
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tells the story of addiction well 1 Sept. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Though this tells little more in factual terms than more academic books do, it tells well the story of our addiction with all things social media. Its far more accessible than current tech books as it shares the stories of real people as the technological revolution moves ever faster onwards in our lives. I loved it and found it to be a great companion piece to the weightier tomes on the digital era.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking 16 Mar. 2015
By Oarsman
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A really good read - thought provoking - and I've loaned it onwards for others to read ...
Worth reading her PhD thesis if this is your area of interest.
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