blog (category: social)
nexus is defined as both a means of connection as well as the core or center. Biologically speaking, it's a specialized area of the cell membrane involved in intercellular communication and adhesion.
So we've interwoven:
- the means of connection
- the core of a connective network, and
- the part that provides that means.
Nexus comes from the Latin nectere, to bind, (not to be confused with nectar, which is the Latin drink of the gods, but from the Greek for death (think necro.))
Now we have a new definition. Nexus (n): a tool for visualizing your social connections. (Found via information aesthetics: facebook social network graph.) Install the Nexus Facebook app, and it generates a semi-interactive graph of all of your friends and how they're connected. Mouse over a friend-node, and all of her or his friends on your graph are highlighted.Here's my full Nexus graph. It helped me find out that Ilya knows Greg, and that Melvin is the only link (besides me) between my college and high school networks, making him my nexus, (like core, not like connective tissue.) Or maybe it makes him my nemesis (from *nem-, as in to divide, also, nomad.) Or maybe it just makes him a good bridge.
But ... means and membranes ... What are the means of personal connections? Business, love, work: are these just platforms, and communication the only means of direct connection? (Is that a cop-out and re-definition?)
The comment box at the bottom of this post is also a means, (means: instrument or agency.)
Show me your membrane.
A jarring reminder to diversify social connections and information sources, Adam's quote from The Polarization of Extremes relates how the internet aids in the "the creation of enclaves of like-minded people," making groups more homogeneous, and "squelching diversity."
But that function is only part of the story, and, really, a feature, [not a bug,] if viewed in context of longer and larger processes. The web is the frameworks for -- and accelerator of -- constant connection, explosion and re-arranging of minds and ideas.
Individual talents and perspectives don't have to shrivel within a retribalized society; they merely interact within a group consciousness that has the potential for releasing far more creativity than the old atomized culture. Literate man is alienated, impoverished man; retribalized man can lead a far richer and more fulfilling life--not the life of a mindless drone but of the participant in a seamless web of interdependence and harmony. The implosion of electric technology is transmogrifying literate, fragmented man into a complex and depth-structured human being with a deep emotional awareness of his complete interdependence with all of humanity. The old "individualistic" print society was one where the individual was "free" only to be alienated and dissociated, a rootless outsider bereft of tribal dreams; our new electronic environment compels commitment and participation, and fulfills man's psychic and social needs at profound levels.
the global village makes maximum disagreement and creative dialog inevitable.
-- Marshall McLuhan, The Playboy Interview: Marshall McLuhan (March 1969)
I'll split hairs and suggest that McLuhan was wrong when he said seamless. Separations exist, and are essential for growth within: polarization/contraction provides focus, cooperative motivation; pressure-cook. But the seams are more porous and flexible than in meatspace, due to the web's openness and allowed dynamism in personal identification.
(Build a highly-adaptable, low-bandwidth medium, and all sorts of social norms are discarded because of ease of anonymity. As bandwidth has increased and patterns have been been formalized, anonymity is somewhat less available, but adaptability and fluidity of interaction remain.)
Not that competition ever goes away because everything happens at once all the time. It's a rich situation. But we are learning global harmony.
Our social models, including our corporate world, were designed as mechanical models. But organism and mechanism are very different [...]
At present we're moving away from inventor-created, allopoietic systems to autopoietic systems -- literally self-created systems, living systems in holarchy instead of hierarchy, with negotiations instead of top-down command; systems that negotiate cooperation and thus design themselves from within instead of being engineered and repaired and redesigned by inventors or designers.
Paul Hawken gave examples and a very nice metaphor for this phenom in his Blessed Unrest SALT talk, (mp3 | summary.) ... Don't sweat global: think local and act local, and more appropriate large-scale results will emerge as aggregate.
The last time we were at River's Edge the audience was largely composed of the Sisters of St. Joseph from the congregation next door... I'm happily certain this won't just be an echo chamber for my pre-conceptions.
Citizen journalism, citizen medicine...
[Physicians] don't have the same investment in our health as we do, and they can only devote so much time to each case.
This makes me think of blogs as opposed to mainstream media. A mainstream journalist devotes a limited amount of time to a story, then moves on to the latest, more "newsworthy" thing. [...]
"The old, Industrial Age paradigm, in which health professionals were viewed as the exclusive source of medical knowledge and wisdom, is gradually giving way to a new, information-age worldview in which patients, family caregivers, and the systems and networks they create are increasingly seen as important healthcare resources." (Dr. Tom Ferguson, aka DocTom.)
-- Jon Lebkowsky, Empowering Patients With Information Technology (WorldChanging)
It's just what happens when it's easier to share information. But, individual empowerment is dangerous to some:
I suggest that the noble amateur is itself part of an ideological construct; it's part of the idealization of innocence, of authenticity [...]; it's a dangerous romanticism. It's dangerous because one of its unintended consequences is the undermining of authority, the undermining of mainstream media, the undermining of expertise.
Undermine: dig beneath the foundations and make them shake.
Scientists find themselves abandoning a theory of anthill organisation that depends on commands from the queen, and replacing it with a bottom-up model of emergent organisation that depends on the free flow of information between every member of the colony. More importantly, however, these flashes of insight and radical reappraisal of formerly sacrosanct ideas are followed not by a retrenchment but by a new openness to reflection, collaboration and change.Douglas Rushkoff, Open Source Democracy
And, a different sort of bug:
given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow
eye and I and I:
perethuvaedayana : 10,000 eyes, high, with full knowledge
-- Manly Palmer Hall, Secret Teachings of All Ages
It's too bad more folks didn't attend Defrag Ohio ("Linking Ohio's Rich Media Resources and Renegades") two weeks ago -- some excellent stuff going on there.
I took that Friday off work and bicycled out to Lorain Community College for the second day of the conference. Very pleased to have gone; heard some inform/inspir-ational presentations and panels, got to meet some greats (like social networking guru Valdis Krebs, a few from The Institute For Open Economic Networks, and multi-faceted Susan Miller,) and enjoyed my rides out and back, despite the wind-tunnel I strained against, and the sickly suburban sprawl further out.
Here are a few take-aways and thoughts from the sessions I attended:
- American Solar Energy Society and GEO are holding the SOLAR 2007 conference in Cleveland July 7th-12th. All-day the 8th is free and open to the public. (See who's going (and show your interest) on Upcoming.)
- The GLSC is installing a solar array to complement the new wind turbine.
- Ohio is host to 30 of the 50 most polluting coal plants in the US.
- thought: The Science Center has the resources and positioning to transform itself into a center for community discourse around renewable energy and emerging green tech, instead of being just a showcase.
- Your organization will monetize and find success it its differentiation. Open-source (or use open source for) the non-differentiating aspects.
Research: 20 Years of Social Network Analysis: Valdis Krebs (Orgnet.com):
- Social connectedness within an organization correlates to commitment to that organization.
- Innovation happens at network intersections.
- Who needs to be introduced to whom? For example: A good bridge in a network can become a bottleneck if too much traffic must pass through them. Directly connect the people between which this bridge is the only connection.
- thought: With many web organizations opening up their data (web 2.0 companies with open APIs, Google Groups, open source project revision control systems, etc.), there's opportunity for (low-cost) large-scale analysis.
- thought: Orgnet's InFlow software could be amazingly useful in re-defining how we understand and view social interaction on all sorts of levels, if made more accessible and extendable. Orgnet's no longer alone in the industry; the field is growing and other solutions are emerging. I'd love to see InFlow open-sourced, or at least made to be web-based and extensible. Orgnet can monetize on differentiators of experience, expertise, and consultation, and allow the tool widespread use and evolution.
Strategic Doing: Open Source, Collaborative Leadership and Social Networks: Ed Morrison (iOpen)
- Everyone's got an idea or two about what needs to be done to strengthen the region. How do we aggregate these ideas and passions? The aggregates are the really important things, and, made material, will gain critical mass.
A brave, almost presumptuous world stood before me. I kicked it square and sent it flying, face-first in the dust.
This weekend was a blast. Friday night in Buffalo with my cousin, Mark, and Saturday the Alexander Street Fest back here in Rochester. Old friends were by my sideways and new encounters set me spinning. Good to climb out of some of the stagnant water I've been wading in for the last few weeks. Opposite of way-nonplussed.
Before the eatdrinkdance festivities began, I sent my computer ninjas to work Thursday night on catching me up in social software trendiness. I've avoided the whole Friendster bit, (and am determined to continue so,) but the Friend of a Friend (FOAF) project interests me and merits mention. From their page:
The Friend of a Friend (FOAF) project is about creating a Web of machine-readable homepages describing people, the links between them and the things they create and do.
My ninjas speak RDF, so they suited up and hacked out my FOAF file. A helpful resource was Getting Started With FOAF, along with the current FOAF spec. And if your ninjas aren't so skill'd, FOAF-a-Matic will sort of automate the process.
My ninjas haven't yet begun listing folks I know in my FOAF file. I gave them the weekend off so they could have a beer and meet some people.
Emergence is what happens when the whole is smarter than the sum of its parts. It's what happens when you have a system of relatively simple-minded component parts -- often there are thousands or millions of them -- and they interact in relatively simple ways. And yet somehow out of all this interaction some higher level structure or intelligence appears, usually without any master planner calling the shots. These kinds of systems tend to evolve from the ground up.
A threaded discussion board turns out to be an ideal ecosystem for that peculiar species known as the crank-the ideologue obsessed with a certain issue or interpretive model, who has no qualms about interjecting his or her worldview into any discussion, and apparently no day job or family life to keep him from posting voluminous commentary at the slightest provocation. We all know people like this, the ones grinding their ax from the back of the seminar room or the coffee shop: the conspiracy theorist, the rabid libertarian, the evangelist-the ones who insist on bringing all conversations back to their particular issue, objecting to any conversation that doesn't play by their rules. In real life, we've developed a series of social conventions that keep the crank from dominating our conversations. For the most pathological cases, they simply don't get invited out to dinner very often. But for the borderline case, a subtle but powerful mechanism is at work in any face-to-face group conversation: if an individual is holding a conversation hostage with an irrelevant obsession, groups can naturally establish a consensus-using words, body language, facial expressions, even a show of hands-making it clear that the majority of the group feels their time is being wasted. The face-to-face world is populated by countless impromptu polls that take the group's collective pulse. Most of them happen so quickly that we don't even know that we're participating in them, and that transparency is one reason why they're as powerful as they are. In the face-to-face world, we are all social thermostats: reading the group temperature and adjusting our behavior accordingly.