2014_1_4_58_15_24877 (by the pain of fleeting joy)
06237 (by the pain of fleeting joy)
It’s my contention that because complexity-based network models have been mostly ignored, the arts and humanities have produced rather poor analyses when it comes to the Internet, the Web, and networks in general. For example, the rhizome is a simple plant root system that succeeds primarily in the reproduction and distribution of plant life. But the rhizome, at least as a meaningful symbol for the power of networks, is something of a myth. Many or most interesting networks, including the Internet and Web, are not rhizome-like.
The power of the rhizome as a metaphor is probably due to its use by Deleuze and Guattari. It is also, not coincidently, the name of a web-based arts organization. The rhizome is typically suggested as the alternative to hierarchical networks, i.e. tree- or star- structured networks. The rhizome is presented as a network where all nodes are radically equal. But this is a false binary choice.
More typical is a third type of network where, while there are typically multiple paths to any given node, some nodes are more popular and well connected with higher bandwidth than others. These ‘scale free networks,’ where some nodes are more equal than others, can be created through a process called preferential attachment. The driving principle is that the more links a given node has, the more likely it is to collect additional links in the future. As in a chaotic system, slight differences in initial connections can result in radically different networks. This mechanism isn’t merely theoretical or mathematical. For example Google presents nodes in search results based in part on the count of incoming links. This leads to some nodes being found first in searches. And that leads to the increased probability of those nodes gaining new links.
Great essay by Philip Galanter