Monday, March 15, 2004

"New information technologies, by transforming all processes of information processing, act upon all domains of human activity, and make it possible to establish endless connections between different domains, as well as between elements and agents of such activities."

Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society 1996, 2000. p78

A change in the technology of linking leads to a change in the network. Exactly how of course depends on many things. The technology of linking (or, the means of communication and transport -- that should cover the universe of interactions between nodes shouldn't it?) has a deterministic (but not predictive) affect on the network. In the case of speeding up, cheapening (i.e. an economic metaphor for allowing more links to develop), "network behaviors" can emerge that before were impossible, or smothered, dormant, potential. That is, emergent behaviors.

A change in the technology of linking also allows a re-architecting of the network. E.g. links can be thrown across the network without going through the old hubs (gateways, filters, editors, censors).

In biological processes, the linking technology might be chemical exchanges, sound waves, electrical signals (that wd include touch in the final analysis? or if not, touch), etc. In human society, what we think of as communication and transportation technology (see the chapter Michael Stack and I did on digitalization: The Digital Advantage for more).

For language -- what is the networking technology of language? Words link in specific ways -- syntactical or grammatical rules. Some words, as I think Barabasi points out, function as super-connectors (or, if you mapped out the usage of words, they fall into a power law distribution, the signature of a network architecture). This may be trivial and irrelevant, but I suppose if the syntactical rules or grammatical rules were changed -- the means by which words link, that you would have a change, perhaps profound, in the language.

The relationship, and the nature of the relationship, between the technology of linking and the nature of the network is an analog to Marx's fundamental observation that productive relations must correspond to productive forces.

Monday, March 08, 2004

appropriating the internet for global activism from Yes! magazine:

"Nearly all activists use the Internet for e-mail and websites. But only a few have begun to harness the full power of the emerging networked world."