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

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,492 ratings  ·  197 reviews
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 Drs. Christakis and Fowler, which have repeatedly made front-page news nationwide.

In CONNECTED, the authors explain why...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 28th 2009 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2009)
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8th out of 33 books — 33 voters
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30th out of 83 books — 89 voters

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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...more
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...more
Sep 28, 2009 Margie rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people with very short attention spans
Recommended to Margie by: GoodReads giveaways
Shelves: first-reads, society
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...more
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...more
T. 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...more
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...more
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...more
Sonia Lavadinho
Jul 28, 2014 Sonia Lavadinho rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: sociologues, psychologues, spécialistes des réseaux relationnels
Un livre fabuleux, tant par les théories de l'interaction et de l'influence qu'il met en avant que par les excellents graphiques en couleurs qui mettent en évidence ces réseaux relationnels. Le livre s'applique à décrire pour des thèmes très divers les processus de contagion, et réussit admirablement à donner une image claire des imbrications entre ce que nous sommes, ce que nous faisons et le rôle assumé par les gens qui nous entourent dans les processus décisionnels qui façonnent notre identit...more
Raluca Popescu
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.
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!
Ko Matsuo
Holistic study of how our social networks affect us. Authors address a broad range of issues from who we marry, how much we weigh, how much we make, and whether we vote. Fascinating insight into human psychology. For example, we'd rather be relatively more attractive than others but low on the absolute attractive scale than be higher on the absolute attractive scale, where others are higher. Lays a new framework for public health, advertisement, and economics. Two or three really slow chapters w...more
As someone who prefers small groups and one-on-one interactions, I was curious about the authors' research on social networks, specifically: To what extent does active participation in (large or extensive) social groups matter? What are the pros and cons of extensive "networking" (a term I dislike but that fits here)?

This book was enlightening but not as engrossing as others I've read with some overlapping content (e.g., Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky, or Where Good Ideas Come From by Stev...more
A report on the basic urge to connect

Individuals derive their identities from their social networks. By forging dynamic connections, people accomplish innumerable worthwhile activities, such as giving to charity and sharing knowledge. Unfortunately, social networks also can bring great harm to their members. Panics may reverberate across financial networks, quickly sending stock markets into death spirals and shutting down credit for businesses and consumers. Pathogens like the AIDS virus can sw...more
So far some interesting, but not new, thoughts on how ideas and behavior spread like disease. A good behavior like quitting smoking or a bad one like ...moreSo far some interesting, but not new, thoughts on how ideas and behavior spread like disease. A good behavior like quitting smoking or a bad one like obesity can both be idea/behaviors that spread. - You are likely to behavior similar to those around you and you are likely to surround yourself with those that are like you. True to some exten...more
Jj Kwashnak
Most people hold their family and friends important to their lives - that's a given. And many have played the Six Degrees of Separation (Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon) game. But how important those social networks has not been as well understood. Christakis and Fowler show us that it really is who we know and how we know them that is more important than we ever understood in our lives. Through our friends, and their friends and acquaintances, we amass a rather large collection of people who can hav...more
Paulo O'Brien
We now live with humongous online social networks, but human beings have always had them -- in fact, it is one of the very things that defines being "human." Or says this book, which is a must read for understanding the power that social networks have had from the beginnings of human history and how that works.

This book provides a magnificent explanation of how central our connections to others have always been, going back to the tribal. In addition, the authors posit that our need to be so conn...more
Richard Conlin
This book summarizes the research about social connections that changes the way we can think about social change and other phenomena. The authors suggest that social networking is so important in human activity that they even propose (almost seriously...) remonikering us "homo dictyous" (network man). A fun example, dear to my heart, about door-to-door voter turnout operations. A study they cite indicates that contacting a person and urging them to vote leads to a 10% higher chance that person w...more
As a political scientist interested in popular science books, this book is a big disappointment for me. I bought this book, because I already knew about Fowler's research and I decided it would be more fun to read more on his work in a book written for laymen than the research papers. What I expected was something written in the line of Freakonomics -discussing the major issues in social network research from a scientific point of view but mixed with stories and anectodal evidence from popular c...more
Alexandra Graßler
Wer wissen möchte, wie uns unsere ganz persönlichen sozialen Netzwerke beeinflussen, kommt an diesem Buch nicht vorbei. Es ist faszinierend zu lesen, dass die Reichweite - die Wirkung auf uns hat - bis zu den Freunden der Freunde unserer Freunde reicht.

Um ein Beispiel zu nennen: hören Freunde der Freunde unserer Freunde zum Rauchen auf, steigt die Chance (wenn wir auch rauchen) signifikant, dass wir auch aufhören zu rauchen! Von diesen Beispielen und Zusammenhängen gibt es viele zu lesen.

Die T...more
“Connected” is basically a discussion about how people connect and how those connections affect us, in many ways — our health, our actions, our political affiliations — you name it. The book admittedly has a lot of fascinating research findings: marriage adds 7 years to a man’s life, 2 to a woman’s. More people would like to earn $33,000 if their coworkers earned $30,000, than would want to earn $35,000 with peers earning $38,000. Most of us find jobs and marriage partners not from our immediate...more
This book came out when Facebook was (is?) peaking and many of the references to this book I had read made it sound like the book was an examination of social network sites like Facebook. However, this book is not an examination of social network websites, but social networks in the sociological sense. Considering my passion for sociology, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself reading a straight-up sociology book.

This book is more of a "pop" sociology treatment of the social networks, so it...more
So I’m a bit of a geek for these books. I read this one three times, for both good and bad reasons, which I’ll explain later.

Humans are of course social animals. Almost all of us live in groups large and small; we have our work groups, our social groups, and our families. Connected explores how much of an effect these groups have on us. It looks at our closest family and friends, but it goes further, including friends of friends of friends, pinpointing how these larger meta-groups and intra cult...more
This is a book about how the social connections we have actually affect our lives to extreme extents. For example, we can spread emotions as we spread germs; wealth and poverty are also contagious, as well as it is suicide. It shows a myriad of examples of outbursts of "trendy" illnesses, such as SARS, autism or IBD. People who get sick are not faking or making believe. They actually feel sick, but their condition was triggered by a social influence, not by the real germ or genetic disposition....more
Featured on Wired Online
I was so surprised to be underwhelmed by this book. Felt more like reading a really interesting textbook than a page-turner, even a nonfiction one. It contains tons of useful tidbits and concepts - Dunbar's number, Levy flight pattern, Three Degrees of Influence Rule - fun experiments and little known information about things I thought I knew alot about, but still I had to plow through and keep reading.

I had the impression too that the discussion would be primarily focus...more
The mystery of how we come to do, believe, and say the things we do (as cogently described by David Eagleman in Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain and Jonah Lehrer in How We Decide and by many others) becomes even more complex with the revelations in this book. The phenomena of social networks are being studied and results applied in the fields of health care, politics, economics, social and organizational change among others. The prevelance of social networks and the consitency of their s...more
The publisher's gushing dust-jacket summary aside, Connected quantifies some common sense principles such as "Birds of a Feather...," "You will become what your friends are," "No man is an island..." etc...

Christakis and Fowler's contributions center on identifying the horizons of our influence (3rd degree away from you), the initiation of our influence (usually not on our friends but on the 2nd degree), and by depicting the structures of various networks.

Their examples demonstrate network struc...more
Bojan Tunguz
The raise of the internet has precipitated the increase of public's interest in networks and many books have come out in recent years that explore this new fascination. Most of these books, however, focus on some very trite and visible aspect of the web networks, and don't delve deeper into the more subtle and nonobvious properties of networks. In the light of that the strength of "Connected" is that it heavily relies on well established scientific research and presents it in an accessible fashi...more
Jack Cheng
Very compelling general introduction to the science of social networks. I started this book before my father died and finished it after the funeral, etc. It was very resonant as various people from my dad's life offered condolences, and people from different networks in my life did, too.

Some takeaways:

the 6 degrees of separation is real; moreover we influence people within 3 degrees. that obesity contagion? These are the authors who figured it out and figured out how far away someone else's heal...more
This book makes some interesting assertions based on a variety of creative data and it certainly is important to think of the connections we have in everday life and how those might affect our own behavior. Our lives are made up of relationships and those relationships certainly do impact our lives in meaningful ways. The authors explore how our health, politics and everyday decisions are influenced not only by our direct friends but by the friends of our friends and I am with them for the most...more
So while the observation that there are six degrees of separation between any two people applies to how connected we are, the observation that there are three degrees of influence applies to how contagious we are. These properties, connection and contagion, are the structure and function of social networks. They are the anatomy and physiology of the human superorganism. p30

The development of emotions in humans, the display of emotions, and the ability to read the emotions of others helped coordi...more
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Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, is a professor at Harvard University with joint appointments in the Departments of Health Care Policy, Sociology, and Medicine, and in 2009 was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world.

Christakis and Fowler's research has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, Today, and The Colbert Report, and on the front pages of...more
More about Nicholas A. Christakis...
Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives -- How Your Friends' Friends' Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do Death Foretold: Prophecy and Prognosis in Medical Care Connected Surprising Power of Our Social Networks & How They Shape Our Lives [HC,2009] Social Networks and Health (Annual Review of Sociology) Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine

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“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.” 1 likes
“We discovered that if your friend's friend's friend gained weight, you gained weight. 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.” 0 likes
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