Tuesday, August 05, 2008

NetDraw / UCINET tutorial; networks = organizing

Link of the week: Network Mapping as a Diagnostic Tool, by Louise Clark. This is the best NetDraw user's guide I have seen. Thanks to Cai Kjaer at www.onasurveys.com (via his helpful wiki) for alerting me to this resource.

A few weeks ago I got an anonymous email with nothing but this quote:
"Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life."
--Immanuel Kant
That is some interesting spam. It got me thinking: Is "organized" really the fundamental property of science and wisdom? No, I decided; it's just a word making a pithy quote. I then forgot the matter, only to remember it today, when I read "Using Emergence to Take Social Innovation to Scale," by Meg Wheatley and Debbie Frieze of The Berkana Institute. They say:
"Networks are the only form of organization on this planet used by living systems."
True enough, but I claim their statement is too weak. I would rephrase it "Networks = Organization." If you disagree, please send me a counterexample in the form of an organizing principle that does not invoke things (i.e., nodes) and relationships (i.e., links). And feel free to consider other planets, non-living systems, dark matter, alternate universes, etc. You must also agree to let me use confusing mathematical machinery in order to refute your counterexample. The best "counterexamples" I have so far are organizing by space and time. For example, jellyfish organize by drifting near the surface of the ocean, and people organize by sleeping when it's dark.

Once you accept that Networks = Organization, Wheatley and Frieze's assertion becomes somewhat less interesting; however, it does (somehow) lead to the Berkana-esque question: Isn't it odd that the words "organization" and "organic" have the same root? Doubters like myself can verify right here the etymological network connecting "organization" with "organic." The root is the Greek organon, literally "that with which one works," and which since the 12th century has described not only tools but also musical instruments and body parts.

Putting all our quotes and equations together, we have:
"Science is knowing tools, musical instruments, and body parts. Wisdom is living tools, musical instruments, and body parts."
And that, dear reader, is an org chart that really counts.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Have you had a chance to check out www.keyhubs.com ?

What are your thoughts?