Do media/entertainment technologies connect or disconnect people? That Americans have become increasingly disconnected from one another and the social capital that binds people since the rise of TV and the Net is an idea much debated since Robert Putnam published Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community three years ago (the book is now out in paperback). The Net — ironically the world’ s most connective medium — could be radically advancing that trend.

Putnam cites numerous surveys that show that interaction with family, friends, and neighbors, and participation in social activities — from joining civic groups and bowling leagues to voting — has declined as Americans find more reasons to stay at home. Online, fragmentation abounds.
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