We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate-Henry David Thoreau1 One of Durkheim’s insights concerned the role of integrative mechanisms under conditions of growing social heterogeneity. One of the concomitants of a growing division of labor, (differentiation), he argued, is an increase in mechanisms to co­ ordinate and solidify the interaction among individuals with increasingly diversi­ fied interests.—Neil J. Smelser2

Of all the factors giving birth to the dawning of the Information Age, that which appears most personal and most global, is the degree to which everyone-and everything-seem to have become interconnected. Whether one measures personal contacts or the total volume of international telecom­ munication traffic, the increased frequency of communication events is al­ ready striking and continues to accelerate. Even more impressive is the degree to which we have come to depend on these contacts. In fact, this increase in communication volume would be noteworthy even if we were merely flood­ ing the network with small talk, as Thoreau feared would happen. But something much more important is underway. By increasing the flow of in­ formation, Americans are attempting to amplify the scale and scope of social organization. Interconnectedness is actually a technology for coping with interdependence.