Responses in reaction to the following statement
were assembled from a select group of 1,286 Internet stakeholders
in the fall 2004 Pew Internet & American Life "Experts Survey."
The survey allowed respondents to select from the choices "agree,"
"disagree" or "I challenge" the predictive
statement. Some respondents chose to expand on their answer
to this statement by accepting the invitation to write an explanation
of their position; many did not. Some respondents chose to indentify
themselves with their answer; many did not. We share some -
not all - of the responses here. Workplaces of respondents whose
reactions are listed below are attributed here only for the
purpose of indicating a level of internet expertise; the statements
reflect personal viewpoints and do not represent their companies'
or government agencies' policies or positions. Some answers
have been edited in order to share more respondents' replies.
Below is a selection of the many carefully considered responses
to the following statement:
Prediction on social networks
By 2014, use of the
Internet will increase the size of peoples' social networks
far beyond what has traditionally been the case. This will enhance
trust in society, as people have a wider range of sources from
which to discover and verify information about job opportunities,
personal services, common interests and products.
Compiled reactions from the 1,286
39% of internet experts agreed
20 % disagreed
27 % challenged the prediction
15% did not respond
This prediction mixes social and professional networks; the
first will not expand dramatically, the second will; it won't
be easier to "verify" information, on the contrary. - Louis
Pouzin, Internet pioneer: inventor of "Datagram" networking
and designer of the Cyclades network; a formulator of the groundwork
for contemporary networks
People will have larger social networks, but most of the relationships
will be low-value, low-trust relationships. In general, online
acquaintances are generally self-selected for agreement in ideology/politics/religion/etc.,
so I think that we'll actually see more hardening of radical
views, rather than more trust. - Simson Garfinkel, Sandstorm
Enterprises/Technology Review magazine
I think this has already happened, and people's networks have
gotten bigger than they want to handle. We'll be watching how
the Internet helps people restrict their connections now, more
than increases them. - Douglas Rushkoff, author/New York
University Interactive Telecommunications Program
It seems likely that trust in commercial services will grow
as people increasingly depend on the Internet. However, though
there are spectacular examples of relationships engendered by
Internet communications, most Internet relationships connect
along limited dimensions. There is still no substitute for dense
personal interactions. - Jorge Reina Schement
I think the first sentence is clearly true, but the second sentence
does not follow. The increasing size of social networks may
not produce increased social trust, if the Internet also proliferates
the circulation of untrustworthy information and practices.
- Peter M. Shane, author of "The Electronic Federalist:
The Internet and the Electric Institutionalization of Democratic
It could expand social networks, but not "far beyond." People
will have a wider range of sources - but most individuals will
settle on a small number that they will use repeatedly much
as they use a small subset of the large number of TV networks
available already. Impact on trust could go either way (or both)
- more sources could equal more differences of info could lead
to more confusion and skepticism as easily as more trust. -
Ben Compaine, communications technology expert
The Internet links us to more people, more frequently, and at
greater distances. It allows us to maintain some sort of contact with
weak,latent ties, to whom we used to only send Christmas cards. The greater connectivity of the Internet does not come at the
expense of face-to-face or telephone contact. Internet connectivity adds
on to phone and face-to-face contact. The joint ability to have more ties
-- and more contact with ties -- means that Internet users tend to have
the largest active social networks that the world has ever seen. Most ties people have on the Internet also take place offline
-- by phone and face-to-face. Although the media have been fascinated with
online virtual worlds, in practice, this is a small proportion of relationships that use the Internet.. - Barry Wellman, University of Toronto
Depends on what one means by "social networks." Acquaintances?
Email correspondents? Advice sources? People one parties with?
Maybe our social networks will have more long-distance connections,
but they may have fewer direct person-person connections. A
person's total number of connections may be a limit of that
person's tolerance for connections or time available to spend
maintaining them, which would be an inherent limit in how large
an individual's social network might become. - Peter Denning,
Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California; columnist for
Communications of the ACM
Although the evidence is inconclusive - and the social effects
of the Internet will change as the electronic media change -
I read the existing data as mostly negative. Social networks
are weakening, and the Internet is not helping at all. -
Peter Levine, the University of Maryland
I agree with the first part, but I'm not sure it will enhance
trust or widen anything - it may instead deepen divisions and
create silos. The key will be for the Internet to embrace geography
considerably more than it has thus far. More Friendster, and
less Freeper. More craigslist and less eBay. The Internet could
be a tool for people to connect with each other in their geographic
communities, not withdraw from their geographic communities
into a virtual space where the horizons are vastly narrower.
- Dan Froomkin, washingtonpost.com/niemanwatchdog.org
I think that there has been a pseudo-expansion of social networks,
with people who have just a superficial connection (chat, picture,
etc.). I don't feel these are lasting connections on the level
of an in-person connection. Witness the use of e-mail in business
as simply a bridge to a face-to-face meeting. We haven't been
able to replace a connection even among professional colleagues.
- Ted Eytan, MD, Group Health Cooperative
Social networks are not just about size, you also have to consider
the quality of your contacts/information. Most people have a
limited number of people that they actually trust. I believe
it's likely that real word experience has taught them to be
careful. The use of the telephone increased the size of social
networks, but I doubt the introduction of the telephone increased
trust in society. Having access to a wider range of sources
is nice, but there is such a thing as access to "too much information."
- Robert Lunn, FocalPoint Analytics/USC Digital Future Project
People's social networks will be richer and more interesting,
but the closest parts of those networks won't be numerically
larger - we can only take in about 150 people, virtually or
in real space. Trust depends on reciprocity in taking risk,
and it's hard to do that without lots of repeat interactions
and contextual information. So, richer, better, livelier, but
not necessarily bigger. - Susan Crawford, professor, Cardozo
School of Law/Policy Fellow with the Center for Democracy &
Technology/Fellow with the Yale Law School Information Society
The size and diversity of people's social networks will certainly
increase because technology, and the internet in particular,
lowers the threshold for participation in social activities
and breaks down traditional social barriers (i.e. race and gender
stereotypes are harder to advance online if the identity of
the participants is unknown. But the size of someone's social
network is not necessarily a good thing. The Internet makes
us lazy, it encourages us to stay home in front of our computer
instead of going to the local watering hole or community center
to engage with people directly. - Brian Reich, Mindshare
The benefits will be instrumental - that is people will have
better information in the choices they make, but they won't
trust society as a whole more. - Mark Rovner, CTSG/Kintera
I agree, except for the part about enhanced trust. The networks
will expand, but we will also have to be more selective in evaluating
the information received through those networks. The 80-20 rule
of information still applies - even if the total amount of information
increases. - Ken Jarboe, Athena Alliance
Social networks are like telephone numbers. There are limits
to how large they can be, based on time and personality. Some
people have large social networks; some people don't. I don't
think that will change. However, the Internet may well change
the composition of social networks. For example, college-aged
students have been able to maintain relationships with high
school friends much more easily than was once the case. So,
their social networks are not remade in college, as was once
the case. How such a change might affect where people choose
to live after college, etc., will be interesting to track. -
Stanley Chodorow, University of California at San Diego/Council
on Library and Information Resources
I agree with this prediction and think it has already happened.
In my life, the Internet has connected me to many people around
the globe, from many different walks of life, and cultures.
I have been able to use these contacts for research and writing
opportunities, and have been recruited for a variety of different
career opportunities. I believe these contacts and opportunities
for collaboration will only increase as the electronic connections
afforded by the Internet increase. - Gary Kreps, George
Mason University/National Cancer Institute
I generally agree, but would offer these thoughts: The more
ethical an individual is, the less he or she needs regulations
and such. A tiny population of abusers should not provoke penalties
for many, but with one's own vigilance and a better understanding
of these people, we will keep them and any associated undesired
behavior from such at bay, and focus on the majority of positive
results that come of technology-assisted social networks. -
Victor Rivero, editor/writer/consultant, former editor of Converge
At the same time, I think certain "trusted sources" will not
have the confirmation of the crowd, instead they will be trusted
due to their scarcity or connection only to prime nodes within
the network. - Christine Geith, Michigan State University
Ten percent of the world may be on the Net but so are 10 percent
of the world's criminals and they are using it to automate old
crimes and invest in new ones. Unless and until law enforcement
and security catch up they will undermine and destroy trust.
- Philip Virgo, secretary general, EURIM - UK-based Parliament
Industry Group/IMIS - UK-based professional body for management
of information systems
Trust is a human experience - experience being the key word
here - acquired over time. Trust is instinct-based, for example,
we feel repulsed by meat that smells bad, because we'll get
sick, or we feel apprehensive about the dark, because we may
be hurt more easily. Trust for people will continue to act in
the same way. We experience and assimilate that information.
We will not re-wire millions of years of evolution because of
Friendster. - Lorraine Ross, VP, Sales, USATODAY.com
Overall, this is a key factor of my Internet vision. However:
depending on deployment factors globally and on control of key
nodes, there may be considerable pushback based on privacy,
security and other social factors unrelated to tech capability.
Governments may crack down on allowing social access to "undesirables,"
or personal concerns about safety or security may restrain some
individuals from full usage of this capability. Moreover, as
business models evolve for social networking, the "price of
admission" may affect acceptance into the "best" networks. -
Gary Arlen, Arlen Communications
The trick here is that the idea of what constitutes a social
network is changing. In the past, if I met someone at a conference,
and we didn't meet again all year, I might not consider her
to be part of my social network (a friend, colleague, or acquaintance).
But, if using the Internet I read her blog, or see her in an
IM session, or briefly message her, I consider her a resource
from whom I can draw. I suspect that if the question is asked
"is your social network larger?" those who are the heaviest
users of the Internet will answer in the affirmative, but it
isn't clear to me that this is a useful measure by itself. -
A. Halavais, State University of New York at Buffalo
The web is also a great way to spread disinformation and propaganda.
The checks and balances that exist within nation states don't
exist on the web and market forces may not prevail. Currently,
I am receiving e-mail and links to bank websites which ask for
information or link me to sites that look, for example, like
CitiBank, which are not official Citibank sites. Verification
can be difficult and the tracing down of who is responsible
for such false information is impossible for the average individual
to do. It costs money to send a false catalogue of products
through snail mail, but costs far less to advertise on the Internet
or through e-mail, so I suspect that we will see a proliferation
of fraud. - F. Hassencahl, Old Dominion University
I agree with the first sentence, but I don't believe that this
will enhance trust in society. Rather I feel it will transform
our notion of society from that of a group of people brought
together by physical space into a virtual space containing everyone
who shares a common need or business or passion. As to the matter
of trust, I think it is likely that given the ease with which
one can employ deception in cyberspace, people's general trust
in society may diminish a bit. - Peter W. Van Ness, entrepreneur,
principal The Van Ness Group, a web-solutions company
In the fall of 1999 I attended the Harvard Business School Advanced
Management Program (AMP). The class of 170 business executives
from around the world has since been in continual contact thanks
to one of our classmates acting as an e-mail coordinator. He
receives messages from individuals concerning life changes and
promotions, and e-mails that to the whole class, which spans
the globe. Whether Mike is sending a daily joke, or update on
a classmate who has just become a grandmother, or telling us
who is about to arrive in one city or another seeking a reunion,
he and the internet have brought together a group of people
to create a virtual community, extending the Harvard experience
way beyond the classroom. - Graham Lovelace, Lovelace Media
Social networks will increase, but not beyond traditional measures.
This is b/c social networks are not driven by electronics. Electronics
can help to sustain relations. Accordingly, we will have more
interactions w/ existing networks beyond what has traditionally
been the case. New networks will continue to be a function of
where we work, live, worship and play. The 'Net will enhance
these things, not replace them. - B. Keith Fulton, Verizon
While people's social networks will expand in size, those will
also take different shapes. A typical person's social network
is likely to become more geographically diverse. Some relationships
will be purely ''virtual'' - with interaction occurring purely
through online channels. Face to face, local relationships will
also decrease and potentially become ''shallower'' and less
important in the average person's day-to-day living. - Lyle
We have not yet found good ways to verify authority in cyberspace.
I also think there is a finite attention space for people. We
might get new and better sources of information, but they will
replace some of the old ones. - Mike Weisman, Reclaim the
The size of social networks are almost certainly a function
of some innate capacity in people. The Internet can enable them,
but not necessarily enlarge them, nor, necessarily, enhance
trust in society. A better view is that the Internet reshapes
and relocates social networks. By changing the nature of networking
and making it more efficient, it is also changing the mix of
people who are effective at social networking. It allows finer
niche groups, allows the introvert to succeed where he/she may
not have before. - John B. Mahaffie, co-founder, Leading
It will decrease trust and create a more liminal society, a
culture of surfaces that are all suspect, and assumed so, like
the hypothetical culture at the crossroads where everyone lies
all the time and everyone knows it. The cultural effects of
the ''lying assumption'' don't necessarily bode a loss of integrity,
but rather, they unbind integrity from a speaker's ethos, as
in the case where greater truths can be uttered with a pseudonym
than would be uttered with one's real name. Connection expands,
more communication takes place, but identity and representation,
and integrity, are unbound from the communication. - Christine
Boese, cyberculture researcher, CNN Headline News
My social networks may indeed expand through the Internet, and
I may come to trust people and society, at least in that milieu.
But as I go out physically into a social environment, will my
trust in society that grew virtually "work" for my in the physical
space? I can see learning to trust and be engaged with people
online, but that is not my personal space. Please don't get
too close to me in the elevator. - Barbara Smith, technology
officer, Institute of Museum and Library Services (federal government)
This seems to describe the situation today, not ten years in
the future. The problem is to have a broad social network that
contains people you care about; an online community of like-minded
people (or seemingly like minded). Presumably in ten years that
will be more common. Online communities might enhance trust
in that online group of people but in society generally - I
don't see it would have that effect; in fact the opposite seems
just as likely. Myriad online interests with their own communities
could easily cause trust to dissipate. - Michael Neubert,
Digital Projects Coordinator, Library of Congress
We may well know more people superficially, but we will know
far fewer people with any degree of depth or abiding interest.
Rather than inspire greater trust, our mile-wide, inch-deep
approach to relationships and contacts will engender a growing
distrust of others. The greater accessibility of information
on others also entails a greater access for others to information
about us. The loss of privacy and general intrusion of information
and technology will lead to an interesting Catch-22 for many
people: We will hate the developments, but find ourselves unable
to live without them. And we will not be happy. - Daniel
Weiss, Focus on the Family
The following responses are from participants who chose
to remain anonymous: [Workplaces of respondents whose reactions
are listed below include Internet2, RAND, Gartner, Radiance
Technologies, IBM, the Congressional Budget Office, Open Society
Institute, Fidelity Investments, U.S. Census Bureau, Harvard
University, Netcraft, University of Illinois, Microsoft, Media
General, Meetup, U.S. Air Force Materiel Command, The Institute
for the Future, SAS, the Federal Reserve System, CNET, Moody's,
the Congressional Management Foundation and others.]
Agree: By 2014 use of the internet will increase the size of
people's social networks far beyond what has traditionally been
the case. Disagree: This will enhance trust in society, as people
have a wider range of sources from which to discover and verify
information about job opportunities, personal services, common
interests, and products.
Two points - first a wider number of contacts does not mean
a social relationship exists, so I'd like to challenge the use
of the phrase "social network" because it ignores the relations
that form that connection. It is unlikely that people will be
able to build larger strong tie networks - as humans we haven't
changed - our cognitive limits and perhaps one might say socializing
limits have not changed. Sure, some people may sustain many
ties they believe are strong, but I'm guessing these people
would have maintained them anyway, regardless of the internet.
Second, as people can check up more on others, we can reasonably
expect that many people will object to be checked up on. Thus,
I fail to see how being able to check up on everyone is related
to concept of trust.
In a cable universe with 400 channels, most people use only
seven. That's because humans do not expand as possibilities
do. The internet may allow for easier social intercourse, but
ease will not equal more. We do not verify things now with the
tools available. There is no likelihood that because it is on
the web we will use it.
I agree to a degree. But there is also likely to be a backlash
to the "database nation" concept, as many people seek to protect
their personal details. Identity theft will have a serious chilling
effect on this trend.
The Internet does expand social networks - but it decreases,
not increases trust. While the range of information sources
is increased by the internet, the number of reliable sources
is not. Similarly, while social networks widen, the number of
trustworthy contacts is not increased by the Internet. However,
the Internet does enable people who already trust each other
to keep in better contact.
I agree with some qualification: trust mechanisms will need
to be much more effective and there will be a rising number
of reasons to NOT trust what people say and do on the internet.
The increase in the size of people's social networks will happen,
but there will also be a profound surge in mistrust.
Social networks will expand. The propensity to reconnect with
old friends who will be much more accessible is but one example.
Like any other mass aggregation of people,
peddlers of wares and services, hucksters of all descriptions,
and general riff-raff will make these larger social networks
somewhat less than useful. There will be (and are) benefits,
however, for those who can tolerate the virtually milling masses.
For example, the Internet is great at aggregating individuals
without regard to distance, for example those who are offering
a good or service and those who wish to buy, or patients with
First, I believe that the size of social network is limited
by our capacity to interact with much more than a few 100 people.
Second, I observe that the Internet makes it easy for people
to congregate with other people just like them, rather to seek
interaction with a wide range of sources.
Once you get beyond the reach of what has traditionally been
a social network (15 people you truly empathize with and maybe
100 who you care about) the value of these new social connections
become negligible. The fact that someone is tangentially connected
to me does not make them any more valuable of a contact than
someone I don't know.
I agree with most of it. What I challenge is the "trust" component.
Already, there is evidence of a backlash by some people against
the internet, who would contend it's content and messages are
too easily manipulable.
People are already on overload. Unless better management and
security tools emerge, people may find themselves withdrawing
By 2014, the elementary children today will be entering the
work arena. Those who have computer access in their homes will
already be so Internet savvy that the smart ones will have information
on the companies, the people, and the job opportunities in the
marketplace. These same children do now and will continue to
communicate using Internet tools: cell phone text messages,
palm pilots, laptop devices, IM, etc. Much social activity for
the Gen X and Millennial (GenY)groups is currently being done
- meeting on the net and dating/marrying etc. This will continue
involving foreign country connections as well.
The typical size of a social network of a given person has been
estimated very differently, but it's generally been within hundreds
typically. Enter the Internet. I am an introverted engineer.
I don't remember people's names very well. I don't go to parties.
I leave any reception drained. I should have a smaller-than-average
social network. Yet, my address book contains more than 1,200
people, and this is only a fraction of the people I know and
can reach out to. Whether this will enhance trust in society
is quite questionable.
The capacity of one's social network will remain the same (the
Internet will not change human capacity for intimacy and trust)
as will many aspects of its diversity. Geographically, it will
change, as we are more able to build relationships with virtual
groups and distant individuals.
I believe that liability concerns and information security will
severely limit the amount of verifiable information available
over public networks. Thus, trust will continue to be diminished,
giving way to a cynical view of Internet information and social
interaction. Until some paradigm of trust and verifiability
is established, social, political, and financial interactions
will be limited to role-playing, generalities, and liability-limited
It has already happened, so I cannot imagine that using the
internet to do everything from search jobs, find like-minded
people, etc. will decrease. In fact, as wi-fi and mobile devices
become more common and are better made (i.e. easier to use)
social networks will only increase. In fact, I suspect that
face-to-face time will be radically reduced in favor of digital
meetings (with avatars, etc.).
There can be no doubt that the use of contact lists and bookmarks
is enhanced by the ease of collecting and storing them through
PCs on the Net. It's simply easier and faster to gather and
verify information today, and it will only become more refined
I agree with the first statement, but not the statement on trust.
Unfortunately, we are all still human, and along with the addition
of social networks and information flow will come an increase
the amount of untrustworthy information out there as well. We
will have to become skilled at recognizing the trustworthy information
from the non-trustworthy information.
Social networks will change in terms of geography but not that
much in terms of size. personal relationships take time and
the internet doesn't change the amount of time given to relationships.
There will be more information available and more dis- and misinformation.
Trust will not be enhanced. There will be better information
about products and jobs, however.
It is a given the Internet will provide people with a wider
range of sources from which to discover and verify information
about job opportunities, personal services, common interests,
and products. The question is if they will use it - or will
have the capacity to use it. Information overload is a problem
- however work with kids has already indicated that hand/eye
coordination, and the ability to take in and process more information
is evolving. That and the fact that internet search and contextualization
continues to improve makes me think this will be true. Individuals
and the tools they use are evolving to make people more efficient
at taking advantage of access to more people and more information.
I agree that social networks will be larger, but I do not believe
that trust will be increased, because the Internet will also
bring spam, phishing, worms, and rumor-mongering which will
mitigate against increased trust.
People will certainly have an opportunity to ask others their
opinions. They can do that now via chat rooms or message boards.
The lack of governance in these rooms and on these boards leaves
substantial doubt in the value of the information gleaned. As
for the development of social networks, it is difficult to fathom
the notion that notes hastily sent electronically truly build
the bonds required for socialization. Those that believe they
do are either remarkably optimistic, or believe that the very
nature of socializing will change. If the latter, then there
is no quarrel, but then the prediction is merely an exercise
in semantic gymnastics.
The size of people's social networks is likely to increase.
As some of the existing networks such as friendster.com show,
I can make several thousand new "friends" just by adding one
person to my network. However, a social network and most certainly
trust associated with it are a matter of quality, not quantity.
Thus, even though we may be able to draw on even more resources
than today, we will still have selective perception, suffer
from information overload, and stick to whom and what we know,
mostly. Today, compared to ten years ago, there is vastly more
information accessible, but most people do not make use of it
and, if anything, the widening of our networks and access to
everything has decreased trust rather than increased it.
The cost of sorting through the cheap and rapid communication
allowed by the Internet will be to much for the individual to
incur. As a consequence numerous errors and deliberate misrepresentations
will erode social trust.
I only partially agree, because lack of Internet security may
result in less rather than more trust. My guess at probabilities:
More trust - 50%; no change - 30%; less trust - 20%.
Increased information flow tends to widen knowledge gaps; and
it seems clear to me that concerns about privacy, identity theft,
and fraud will not diminish very much.
This is already happening, but there are limits to how "far
beyond" people can manage extended networks. People use the
Internet to get advice, find information, learn about jobs and
travel, find vacations, etc. In the past, that kind of information
seeking used to be more limited - usually advice from a few
friends or family.
Social networks will make it easier to make and maintain connections,
but this will not enhance "trust in society." Just as the phone
improved communication, but did not improve trust in society.
I agree that the Internet will increase the size of social networks,
but I do not think that this will enhance trust in society generally.
I do not think this follows - I think people will have to become
more wary about what the Internet brings them.
Minor challenge: it will increase the size of SOME people's
social networks SOMEWHAT beyond what has been the case. There
will be a minority with super-extended social networks that
are amplified by Internet; the majority will use it to maintain
social networks they've made face to face, or with a few selected
friends they've made in online contexts.
I believe that there is an upper limit on the time people can
spend cultivating their social networks and maintaining ties,
and to the extent people maintain more connections they will
be weaker... which is not to say that that won't offer some
new sorts of value a la Granovetter and weak ties, but I don't
expect it to lead to enhanced trust or social capital in an
The prediction is based on several assumptions that may not
hold true. 1) That a larger social network is a better social
network the number of relationships individuals can manage is
finite, and nothing about the Internet changes that. 2) That
the Internet's main impact on social networks is to increase
the number of relationships, when it seems to me the greater
impact is on geographic and temporal limits. 3) That more relationships
necessarily lead to more information and more information necessarily
leads to greater trust. Maybe it just leads to paralysis via
information overload. I don't dispute that some aspects of this
prediction might hold, but without a critical examination of
these underlying assumptions, it's too optimistic.
I agree with the fact that the Internet allows people to keep
in touch with a much greater number of contacts. However, I
disagree that this change will automatically enhance ''trust
in society''. More contacts does not mean I will trust the society
in which I live any more than I do now; it doesn't mean, for
instance, that I will trust the politicians and business leaders
of my society any more than I do now.
People will seek out only sources that confirm their current
views and positions, sources recommended by those within their
current social circles. This will maintain the status quo.
The Internet is a place where informal communities of like-minded
people can ''meet'' and share their views. It will allow, in
particular, individuals who felt their views to be isolated
ones ... and held them somewhat in anonymity ... to find a voice
with others. This can have dangers, just as in groups like the
Posse Comitatis & suchlike. But it is also a democratizing force.
It is hard to see what the net result will be overall.
Social networks should not be confused with social life. People
will seek advice from credible influencers. However this will
not necessarily enhance trust. The Internet is already being
blamed as the cause of scams, crime and other social maladies
that have always existed. This will foster skepticism in some,
as others use it more wisely and build trust.
Social networks will expand, but not radically: people only
want to know so many people. I agree that people will share
more information about products, etc., and improve processes
like shopping and job changing, but it won't be revolutionary,
just more convenient.
I think the Internet IS enabling people to meet people they
would not have met otherwise, but I do not think the size of
people's social networks are increasing. I think they are simply
getting more specialized. People can get in touch with others
throughout the world, but they can easily avoid being confronted
with perspectives and opinions that do not agree with their
own. The information on the Internet is so vast and so specialized
that, although they have a wider range of resources at their
disposal, they can keep their access to a narrow range of these
resources that meet their specific needs and comply with their
While I agree in general with the prediction, the increased
size of social networks will also lead to more information having
to be processed by any one person. That will tend to either
degrade communication or increase the consumption burden of
The Internet fosters anonymity and self-separatism, which does
not ultimately foster trust.