Musing: Think Networks


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Imagine you’ve always seen the world in 2D and then one day, BAM! You can see in 3 dimensions. Wouldn’t that be life changing? Now imagine if there was one more “dimension” to add (rest assured, no quantum theory ahead). Wouldn’t you want to consider it as well?

One dimension is more than game-changing. It will rock your perception of the world. It may demystify complex concepts, uncover hidden causes and give you access to information you’ve never knew existed…What kind of dimension I’m talking about? Make it more a “layer” to add up to one’s conception of the world: Networks.

We are very familiar with the power of social networks, of the www or Facebook’s open Graph. But what most of us don’t know is, researchers found these networks not to be that much unique. The same rules organizing today’s WWW (Believe it or not, there are rules! It’s not as chaotic as it may seem) have been observed in other networks ranging from genetic, neural*, electronic, to social organizations.

In his highly interesting book “ Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means”, Barabasi walks us through the time-line of the network science while using a very non-mathematical smooth style. From the Euler Era, father of the Graph theory, to today’s complex economic models, the ultimate take out from the book is to never rule out the Network thinking

“No matter what organizational level we look at, the same robust and universal laws that govern nature’s webs seem to greet us. The challenge is for economic and network research alike to put these laws into practice”

So, what if everything could be seen as a network? What if adding a new “Network layer” to our thinking process would bring clarity to everything around us and help us uncover the most complex mysteries (the map of life for example)? Let’s think Networks, shall we? What is there to loose anyway? 

*Neural networks are being the subject of a multitude of studies. You may want to check this very intriguing TED Talk by Sebastian Seung: I am my connectom.

Lamia Ben


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