Technology today makes a lot of things easier, faster and more efficient. It is a long time ago since e-mails superseded the “snail-mail”, and we can see it again today in how business cards are being out conquered by online sites like the Professional Network of LinkedIn. In other words, technology makes it easier to establish and maintain networks. So why are networks so important to us?
In Afterword, Manuel Castells describes how networks matters in many ways to us. For example he mentions that by enabling us to connect with the rest of the world our cultures have met and mixed and eventually set off the issues of globalization, hybridization and/or homogenization. Castells also suggests that organizations that use the logic of networking outperform organizations which do not. By working through networks you have a “side-to-side” structure, not a “top-down” hierarchy, and it makes the organization expand faster and act more flexible. Networking between political institutions enhances cooperation and joint decision-making, activists are organized through networking and our way of socializing is even changing through social networking.
Networks and networking are growing to be our source for communication, socialization and information. Our public sphere used to be the newspapers, TV and radio, but as technology develops and we become more connected, information flows more freely. Looking at it from this perspective makes me realize the power of networks. But alongside with the positive development of a free and open public sphere, there is also a growing digital divide. Not everyone has the ability to connect. It can a physical, psychological, geographical or economical disability, and probably more reasons than I can think of. Networking and the online world has great powers for our society, but I am not sure if it gains all of our society or our public sphere.