Usually I leave class every Thursday with a question rolling around in my head. But, this week there wasn’t. Network theory seems relatively straight forward to me. I think what intrigued me the most this week was when I left class was talking with a friend about what we discussed in class. Simply put, the conversation went something like this.
Friend: “So, how was class?”
Me: “You know. We talked about networks today.”
Friend: “Like facebook?”
Me: “Sort of.”
Friend: “Awesome! You’re getting your masters in tumblr.”
The conversation is silly, I admit that, but it did get me thinking. Networks are in fact everywhere in my life. On facebook, I have a network of friends as well as a network of friends on twitter, and tumblr. The idea of the network, or the relationships between nodes as a network can be defined, has in fact changed the way that I look at interactions between myself, my friends and even my acquaintances. Networks change the way we work in terms of space, as Adams points out. No longer am I just a vague person who knows another person (for this purpose, we will call him Person X), but I can connect with Person X by the sheer knowledge that I know a mutual friend. This is a very different way in which I view the world as opposed to how the world would have been viewed in the past. In the past, everything was less about networking and more about the hierarchical structure. We now see every one as an opportunity to get to know someone else, or advance ourselves in someway.
I feel like I’m slightly picking on the idea of networking with people. It’s not all bad and it definitely is not all about how to advance your career further. Sometimes, as with platforms like tumblr, the idea of the network is much less formal and more of a convenience in terms of meeting people from all over the world, as opposed to creating a world of acquaintances meeting one another.
But, perhaps I’m thinking about the term networking in a completely different way than how it was originally intended to be used. I think Manuel Castells and Bruno Latour might argue that I’m thinking about networking incorrectly. I’m thinking about it in terms of content (what can be communicated through each network), whereas I believe Castells and Latour are referring to the actual structure of a network.
Overall, the concept of a network and networking have become such part of my life that it is almost hard to believe that at one point in time, this idea was new/or that it didn’t exist before. Networks have truly changed the way I work on anything.