Networks

Visualization of the various routes through a ...

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The broader lesson… is that it doesn’t make much sense to discuss properties of network structures – such as small-world or scale-free types – without also discussing what it is you want to do on them. Different types of networks are better at different types of problems. Depending on the challenges an organization might be facing, for example, greater connectivity among workers or departments might be a good thing or a bad thing. Some organizations function best as a loose collection of tribes, each with its own specialists and experts, while others work better if they involve more collaboration. Tribal networks make it easier to differentiate one group from another, while greater connectivity makes it easier for an organization to reach consensus.

Peter Miller, Smart Swarm, p. 149.

It’s a fascinating book, pulling examples from animal swarms (ants, bees, termites, birds etc) and describing how they apply to our world’s dazzling array of networks (social, information, communication etc.). Then again, I’m an INTJ, so I love stuff like this. Patterns and networks and flowcharts – oh my!

What I find particularly fascinating is the distinction between small-world (think village) and scale-free networks (think Internet) that Miller makes. Not something that’d readily come to mind.

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