I’ve just finished reading the new book Untangling the Web by social psychologist Aleks Krotoski. It turns out to be one of the best discussions I’ve yet read on how the fabric of society is meshing with the internet.
Regular readers know I’ve been a massive fan of the Digital Human, the BBC Radio 4 series that Krotoski writes and presents, that covers similar territory.
Untangling the Web takes a slightly more analytical angle, focusing more on scientific studies of online social interaction and theories of online psychology, but it is all the richer for it.
It covers almost the entire range psychological debates: friendships, how kids are using the net, debates over whether the net can ‘damage the brain’, online remembrance and mourning, propaganda and persuasion, sex, dating and politics. You get the idea. It’s impressively comprehensive.
It’s not an academic book but, unsurprisingly, given Krotoski’s background as both a social psychologist and a tech journalist, is very well informed.
I picked up a couple of minor errors. It suggests internet addiction was recognised as a diagnosis in the DSM-IV, when the nearest things to an internet addiction diagnosis was only discussed (and eventually relegated to the Appendix), in the DSM-5.
It also mentions me briefly, in the discussion of public anxieties that the internet could ‘rewire the brain,’ but suggests I’m based at University College London (apparently a college to the north of the River Thames) when really I’m from King’s College London.
But that was about the best I could do when trying to find fault with the book. It’s a hugely enjoyable, balanced treatment of an often inflammatory subject, that may well be one of the best guides to how we relate over the net that you’re likely to read for a long time.
Link to more details about Untangling the Web.