Thursday, March 1, 2007

Living in the corner of the network

I've been thinking about what it is like to be a node in different kinds of social networks. How does the subjective experience of a node (if its also a person) depend on the structure?
Consider a star-shaped network like the one in this post . The hub and the spokes must have each a very different outlook on the world. The hub must feel very important, but also very pressured by the information, desires, messages and everything else flowing from its spokes. If the hub is, for example, a politician, I can imagine how she might be both important to the spokes (constituents, staffers, etc.) as well as constrained by them, bounded and defined by them.
What about a more regular network, in which the number of links to vertices/nodes/individuals are more equal across all nodes?

This network is a little more evenly distributed. Every node in the network is an individual, with a full complement of emotions, thoughts, dreams, plans and experiences. And each has a different perspective on the world.

Imagine the red node is you. Your entire experience of the world is limited to a very small part of it. This is as true for dots as for people. How do you decide what to trust? What to believe? I know these are questions much discussed already, but it is the kind of question that is always useful to go over more, I think. After all, each of us dots has a unique perspective on the world, and it may be that only by sharing our perspectives can we get a sense of the whole picture.

Related tid-bit: this book describes a philosophy of the universe which originated in Asia: the god (or gods, I can't remember, or find the exact passage) has a net of an infinite number of gems with an infinite number of faces on each one, and all the gems are tied together. And in the infinite faces of each gem are the reflections of all the rest.

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