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November 09, 2006


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The points are good, and ...

It takes time and reciprocal interaction of some sort or other ... essential ingredients in building trust, credibility, and knowledge and allows for noders to decide upon what kind of "results" they want to or should pursue ... all aspect of online interaction and "community" we have seen or felt some stuff of here.

Ideant is correct in identifying the echo-chamber phenomenon, which is not new in the social process. "Discriminating against the space between the nodes" is a little like saying that if you are a travelling salesman you don't get to know every potential customer between Terre Haute and Chicago even if you travel between the two regularly .. but if you do it long enough and with enough contacts and introductions, you will fill in or address the discrimination between spaces with some type of meaning, or the foundation upon which some meaning .. and then some trust and credibility, and then si=ome purpose and maybe action .. can be built.

In my experience lots of "nodes" are starting to close that physical distance and meet with each other in reality 3D .. and what I have experienced thus far is that meeting a "node" that I have connected with and formed some bond with through mutual interests, when meeting in real life, makes the bond pretty solid, gives it shape and lends it endurance. From there something else or more may (or may not) grow, whether it is local or distant to me.

There are worse and more nefarious aspects of hyperlinks, interconnected digital infrastructure and being connected to networks to worry a lot about, imo.

Denigrating a "nodecentric" structure because it "discriminates against the space between the nodes" confuses the map with the territory: it equates topological abstraction with living communities. The argument is a politically correct complaint against an abstract mathematical model. If taken seriously it could prevent the very development of tongs, of the communal hubs and nodes that need to exist in the real (bio-regional) world before they exist because of the misplaced worry over a non-issue; it's sending the Judean People's Army back to the table just when action is called for.

If there are communal nodes and hubs, and they connect, and adapt, then the space between them is ever fluid as the nodes themselves morph and change and grow. The topology does not need to be mapped as discrete nodes connected along vectors where we feel sorry for the gaps; the nodes, on the contrary, can be considered biologically, on a cellular level — single cells functioning in their own right yet adhering to others to create a functioning organ: each cell is a self-contained, functioning unit, always moving, always changing, always interacting with other cells. Cells are born, cells die, cells split, cell mutate; cells get together and form multicellular organisms; then these multicellular units get together and form organs... But I suppose we can create an argument called "cellism" that mourns for the space between cells, or some such nonsense, and abandon the notion before it begins.

Unfortunately using the term "cell" to describe this process uses a dangerously perjorative keyword that will draw the panoptic gaze to it from its datamining robots. Hence another reason to develop our own new vocabularies and metaphors.

"Nodecentrism" is a straw man, and a dangerously distracting one.

Woops — my face is red.

I read it again and realized I missed the fundamental point. My bad.

Just a quick, more apposite response: the challenge is still to move between the virtual and bio-regional realms. It is happening in concrete ways already, but blogging tongs need to develop their own networking tools to move between these two realms, to bridge that "dark matter" so that actual bio-regional cells, nodes, tongs, etc., can communicate with others.

Actually, I think your point about the map vs. the territory is key here. The graph-theory abstractions of nodes and links is thin, infinitesmally thin. No volume in it, not even an area. It is quite a metaphor for thinking about this polarity. When the graph gets thick as JJ describes it becomes like a fractal and has a dimension greater in the limit than at any finite point.

The point is exactly to begin to think about what else the nodes and links represent when you zoom down into the local topologies. As I pointed out above, a graph has no substance to it. The surfaces and volumes are not even part of the map, not even as a ground to its figure. The graph is already an abstraction, but the territory it represents in none the less real and substancial.

Not sure quite where to put this, so I'll park it here.

Since the Lohmann's Latest Assay thread (or thereabouts) would you guys say you are "playing", in the simplest sense?

I mean does it feel like play to you?

Just curious...

"Denigrating a "nodecentric" structure because it "discriminates against the space between the nodes" confuses the map with the territory"

That's true, but let's also not confuse the finger (the notion of nodocentrism) with what it is pointing at (the effect of nodocentrism on the local). My argument is precisely that it is problematic to overlay the map of the network over the actual territory of the local. All metaphors have limitations in their application, and to use networks (with their privileging of nodes) as a model to organize social realities may open up new ways of experiencing the glocal, but at the cost of imposing a certain epistemic exclusivity. That's as true of nodocentrism as it is true of any other approach to interpreting the world.

I'm having fun. So yes, it feels like play to me.

"Glocal" — I like that word. It may be a typo, but it's a good one.

I agree with you about the mapping for the reasons Gerry stated. In this case I think the choice of topological abstraction may metaphorically limit what it represents. I think your phrase "imposing a certain epistemic exclusivity" is apt in this case. That's why I thought the cellular model might be a more appropriate model. Perhaps some sort of "cellular/network" model might be appropriate...? Something that depicts a network operating in four dimensions... Perhaps even five, as it traverses between the virtual and bio-regional dimension...?

Much of what is effective collaboration have underpinnings of play theory to the initiatives. Lego in Europe has an OD (organizational development) offering based on playing with Lego bits. Many teams that collaborate effectively with each other will tell you that they play together.

Wim Veen of the Technical University of Delft has been studying for a t least a decade how what he calls "Homo Zappiens" play, study and work together, etc.

Bonus link: The Learning Citizen and Homo Zappiens"

Yes, the cellular model would be much better here. Topological abstractions are created to abstract away many details. What remains are more general principles and behavior that hold true in many more situations, but as pointed out, it does't leave any meat on the bones.

Several years ago I collaborated on a paper on "Organis Design" where the model of networked organizational growth was explicitely linked to organic, cellular growth models. My web site has a version of it, but is in transition at the moment. Maybe I'll dig it out of my source archive and put it under WB when I get home.

Oh, and a note on play. In an unpublished paper that I have by Fernando Flores and Michael Graves, Play is one of the "permanent domains of human concern".

The domain of play, they also call Aesthetics, and it is associated with the things we do without really thinking about it. I see this as related to flow states for example Samadhi or similar from other traditions.

I have typed the content from the physical paper, formatted in html, but I've been reluctant to post because of copyrights. I can send a copy to any of my friends who drop me an email. It has distinct domains for Work, Career and Money (also called Prudence) which are helpful compared to the way WB tends to crush them all together.

And, yes mole, I do consider this play and fun.

Serio ludere, Mr. Mole. Serious fun.

I am not at all mathematical, so my appreciation of the network diagrams is more aesthetic, particularly as they develop over time, like something growing in petri dish. Dense cluster A is my colleagues at work. Dense cluster B are philanthropic specialists. Dense cluster C is Tracy Gary's Women Donor's network. D is the friends of Peter Karoff. F gifthub readers. G is WB Dumpster Denizens. These clusters do not have many common members spanning their boundaries. Over time, as I introduce people to one another and they introduce the dense clusters to which they are attached to members of my dense clusters, and me to theirs, we build something truly new - a Tong of Tongs, not a hierarchy, but a growing community or confederacy of Tongs, and these are not all on line. Many are offline, and behind the curtain, in safe places, where people of wealth and influence meet independent of the public whose interests their giving allegedly serves. This sociological position, that of the monkey in the middle, fascinates me, and echoes with so much in literary history and in mythology. I tried to get at some of those liminal figures in the post on Wealth Bondage at the Cross Roads.

Tongs cohere on the "little grid" of personal association and friendship. The big grid is dominated by the cartoonlike figures in the media emitting brand moments and soundbites like robots in lovely charismatic bodies. As Tong joins with Tong and find a common mythos, face to face and on line, things are going to change.

If philanthropy is private action in a public space, so is Wealth Bondage, and its comment section. Very private and very public. Many lurk here, or pass through, from other Tongs, including the Tongs at the top, whose members have authority, and resources and can move others through brute force of money, influence and delegated power.

The network diagrams, in my visualization, grow like an embryo, taking form, shifting forms, inside a body politic that is already sclerotic. The cells make organs, and the organs make a body that looks now like a tadpole, truly comical. The birth may be monstrous.

The tough things to change at a fundamental level are ideas, beliefs, frames of reference and perspectives. That is a key part of where being 'wired" comes in .. the conversations may be public, are usually archived, links tend to endure and are searchable, and a wave-like geist of the moment develops but attachs to others .. presumably to build greater awareness, educate more, seek eventual excellence.

Thence the "archy" in being wired .. in an optimal stae of "knowledge is power", true knowledge coupled with wisdomm and an understandiung of the human condition would lead to an ever-changing but manageable demos.

As it as (and probably will be), being wired all around and throughout will probably govern us all, and create as much appetite for control and as many troubles as it does real opportunities for positive progress and growth.

But what it clearly has done and can continue to do is let minds express themselves and find each other and share information, which can and may lead to action that engenders positive change.

It is the people behind the intent and action, and their motivations and principles, that will determine the outcomes over time.

I like the balanced perspective, JJ. Wisdom at one node, spectacle at another. See which has the most hyperlinks.

I'm sure that we'll find that balance is as balance does, especially in a wholy-wired (1st) world.

My sense is that there are millions of cases of imbalance walking around now while the pretense of ongoing stability is a key goal of all propagandists ... and I find it supremely ironic that in a world of constant and ubiquitous connection the ultimate connection-competency is to be as connected as possible to one's own self, and be conscious of that.

I'm pretty far out of balance myself, but I doubt it would appear that way to most .. until I open my mouth.

Wisdom tolerates spectacle, but spectacle envies wisdom.

(Incidentally: I thought "overarch" might have a common root with "hierarchy", but apparently not.)

In the film Crumb, oldest brother Charles speaks of the homicidal tendencies he felt as a boy toward middle brother Robert, with whom he collaborated and competed in creating comic books:

Zwigoff (filmmaker): What is the connection between narcissism and the homicidal tendencies?

Charles: When narcissism is wounded, it wants to strike back at the person who wounded it.

Robert: Did I wound your narcissism?

Charles: Many many times, Jack, many many times.

(btw, this film is all about the space between the nodes, imo)

Thanks, all. Serio ludere. It's intriguing. I puzzle at it, but not in an unpleasant way.

Lohmann, was there a sense of play in the composing of the essays, or only, or especially, when they were "turned-out" and the interaction began?

loved that movie, love Crumb's "work" ...

"Keep on truckin.'" Lohman, I think, was playing with ideas, but play can be strenuous, when the score is tight and your team is down 231 to nothing in the first quarter. The thing that occured to me is the same thing that occurs to me reading most literary criticism: Lohman wrote about comedy, but did not write in the mode of comedy.

By contrast, say, Harold Bloom writes as a Romantic, in hyperbolical, some might say, narcissistic prose, about the Romantics.

I try to write satirically about satire. Getting the mode and the point of an essay to coincide is very difficult. (c.f. "The Importance of being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde, a playful subversion of earnestness.)

When you're striving too hard to win, is it play ? .... I love the North American lens of a desperate football team desperately down being used to define one pole of "play". Sports ain't play, it's bidness.

Play is play, I think ... and it can be found almost anywhere .. the absence of practical or expected results might well be one of the defining characteristics, non ?

Preparing for the party can be just as much fun as having it. (Even cleaning up afterwards can be fun if approached with the right spirit.)

The greatest fun, the greatest play, is working hard at something you love. And the greater the task, the greater the rewards of focus and commitment. And if you share it with others who appreciate it then you extend the fun, with the side-effect of creating a community, whether an ephemeral one, or one that grows and blossoms.

I wouldn't use what little precious "free" time I have — even going so far as to take an unpaid day off work on occassion — to compose such wordy essays if I wasn't having fun doing it, if I wasn't "playing" with the process of the creation of meaning that writing is for me.

A labor of love, especially one that is shared, is the greatest manifestation of play. What matters is the enjoyment of the process that aims towards a goal, not attaining the goal itself.

Woody Allen, for instance, when he finishes a movie, never watches it again -- he moves to the next one.

Play is distinguished from Work in that work involves commitments that one makes to others. It isn't a job, and neither is a Career which is our relationship to the historical practices of our fields of work and the interventions we may make in them. The nice man ad Gift Hub now has a Career that exends well beyond the colleagues at his job to even include fetish action figures who occasionally comment at his blog.

I took the train today because the weatherman says it will rain. That gives me a chance to read that I don't have when I ride the bike in, and I finished A Different Universe walking from the train to the office.

In terms of this discussion of networks, focussing on the nodes is the reductive process that Laughlin says is at its end. We need to consider the level of the network as a whole and what are its dynamics that are independent of the properties of the nodes. That makes it the same phenomena when Democrats use it to take back the house and senate (not that that is a good description of what happened) or fundies use it to organize their networks.

A point I have been trying to make for a long time about the study of social networking is the same one Laughlin makes about physics. There is a lot of critical research to be done, and a lot of it is hard work to do; it requires much patience and dilligence, and it isn't the fad of the day.

His descriptions of physics funding boondagles would be right at home with similar ones at Gift Hub and here.

Tim Berners-Lee has proposed an initiative to study the science (I presume including social science) of networks and the Web. No doubt he is correct in proposing that we understand (much) better this massive change in how we communicate and interact, purposefully and otherwise.

To date it has been mostly ad hoc and quickly, of course, subjected to the science of commercialization.

Work in Wealth Bondage. Play in Wealth Bondage. A full service solution to all your human needs.

Bush probably plays at being President, on his own time, don't you imagine? Amuses Laura by jabbing his finger at The Axis of Evil as she playfully rolls about on the bed?

Another question: What does it take to silence a box on the org chart? An order. What does it take to silence a node on a network? - Very different answer. To silence the node you have to cut the ties, and the ties may be redundant, and even the node itself may have replicated itself here and there in other nodes. Controlling a network - how do we do that? Isn't that essentially what Web 2.O is all about? Owning, controlling, exploiting, and optimizing for the gain of the owners a free-forming network? I wonder if O.net is much different. I hope it is, but I wonder.

It gets harder and harder to hold Carnival inside Web 2.0. We become a true freakshow inside a sprawling Disney village. Our very presence puts people on edge. The little kids start crying, the Moral Majority is outraged, and the guy in the Micky suit starts laughing, and saying "O shit, that is funny." And pretty soon the security people in uniform in their golf carts are showing up. Only this being the web, they can't escort us off the premises, not yet. Instead they say, "Please mind your manners."

I think you are talking about Web2.0(c), the commercial version. What I understand of the 2.0 idea is it is the editable Web, where Wiki is the leading edge and more and more content is customizable by anyone.

Good point about silencing nodes. Benkler goes into this in his book. One example was the voting machine stuff where internal emails were published and the high profile sites that had them were targetted, but the cat was out of the bag and it just couldn't be contained. By the time the "authorities" shut anything down, thousands of copies have been made and there is no way to track them all down.

...playing with the process of the creation of meaning that writing is for me.

I just had the image of a fountain, a strong stream rising straight up and then, suspended momentarily and continuously in the process of rising and falling, creating myriad patterns of force and withdrawal, kissed by the sun, caressed by the wind, blown about, even rained upon...

"Hey, Charlie, cut 'the ejaculator', it's rainin!" "Nah, Vern, let 'er rip, she's kissin' her sister..."

Probably not what you meant, but I had fun writing it...

...the absence of practical or expected results might well be one of the defining characteristics, non ?

Here is my working definition of art:

Craft elevated by mystery.

So could I say play is:

Work elevated by mystery?

Yes, I could, and just did.

Play is distinguished from Work in that work involves commitments that one makes to others.

Unless it is "committed play" (an example of which I could relate but won't out of respect for spookable horses. Tutor, however opens a door I wouldn't have thought to -- and now I am forever left with the plausible image of George and Laura conjugating. Thanks, Chet.)

Job/Work/Career are useful distinctions for me to ponder. Especially the career part, which I've never had nor aspired to.

"...when the score is tight and your team is down 231 to nothing in the first quarter."

Sounds like the scorekeeper is "tight".

(btw, I really liked your post beginning "I am not at all mathematical..." and ending "...The birth may be monstrous." It was satisfying somehow.)

A labor of love, especially one that is shared, is the greatest manifestation of play.

I've often wondered about Scrug gs' process in creating his complex video abstracts. For me the process of repeatedly point-clicking through layers and layers of program parameter arcana is a form of hell, irrespective of results. Maybe his "tools" are well designed, or maybe the process is largely "keyboard-shortcutted" and he can wail away with ten fingers arms and body like Ludwig or Amadeus or even Glass.

That was the most fun I've ever had without laughing.

Woody Allen ← Humphrey Bogart ← H.L. Mencken

"[Annie Hall's] working title was "Anhedonia" - the inability to feel pleasure. United Artists fought against it (among other things, they were unable to come up with an ad campaign that explained the meaning of the word) and Allen compromised on naming the film after the central character three week's before the film's premiere. -imdb"

"Homo Ludens," mole, is a book you might want to look into. Haven't read it in years, but the idea as I recall is that man is by nature the animal that plays, with words, art, toys, armies, all he can touch.

Wealth Bondage is what we do at work in propria persona toiling without pleasure for pay; Wealth Bondage is what we do after work, playfully juggling the signifiers that are so heavy at work we can hardly bear to lift them.

What is the opposite of intellectual play, or art? How about talking points?

the editable Web, where Wiki is the leading edge and more and more content is customizable by anyone.

ommercial version ... give everyone and anyoine a username id, login and show 'em ads

enterprise version ... only give the people whose ideas and energy you want to nharvest, a username id and password, and keep it behind a firewall.

Thanks, Tutor, I'll check that out. Looks like a title I could find at the local used book barn.

What is the opposite of intellectual play, or art? How about talking points?

I'd say so. The forced smiles and laughter (laid over them) are the worst. Creepy. Deadening.

Something that inhabits the "space between the nodes" of political discourse is anger. Not the titillating sideshow pundit variety -- that is clearly of the node. The deep, compounded, wounded type, born of righteous indignation over constant insult. Strictly verboten to express it. Nothing will get you kicked off the "network" faster in both public and private spheres, large and small.

"Don't tread on me"? Can you rephrase that?


Thank you, mole, for the object lesson. It's less theoretical now.

Something that inhabits the "space between the nodes" of political discourse is anger. Not the titillating sideshow pundit variety -- that is clearly of the node. The deep, compounded, wounded type, born of righteous indignation over constant insult. Strictly verboten to express it. Nothing will get you kicked off the "network" faster in both public and private spheres, large and small.

"Don't tread on me"? Can you rephrase that?


It takes a while for some of this to sink in. I'm sitting here listening the the BBC news on public radio, and was struck with mole's identification of anger, and I would add hate, but also love and kindness. A man in Iraq who has lost all of his family, all of the children of his grandfather. Expressing no emotion and saying what he now hates. A reporter's story from starting and ending with the image of boots drying after having the blood washed off. Sorrow. An Israeli woman who is ashamed of the violence done in her name. It's not your fault. I know.

The power of networks isn't about the connections of an abstract network, it is the actions they enable. To be sure there is a dark side, the actions are too often violent, opressive or just cold, but there is also the possibilities of healing, compassion and assistance.

More than just satire and carnival are the invisible networks of actions, small gifts and exchanges that cannot be stopped by the control paradigm. All they can do is drive the network underground. Satire an comedy can be powerful tools when the control freaks put the hammer down because they allow for hiding in plain sight, they are the communication channels of the invisible networks.

The guest on Speaking of Faith this week is a man who says that poetry is for religion and sprituality like the telescope is for astronomy.

I'd like to extend an apology for effectively snuffing a pleasantly raging conversation. It was not my intention to 'buzz-kill' -- although I was aware of that possibility as I interjected in the way that I did.

My intent was to sit at the table and bring something useful and varied. At worst, I thought I would be cuffed and/or ignored, and the thing would rage on.

Some things 'fall flat' as OLM points out.

If no apology is owed, no matter. Better to offer in error, than not, when needed.

Nice coda, Gerry.

It's funny. Words like "hate", "sorrow". These things are deeper than the average person dares to go these days -- unless gut-punched so severely that all the bile spews out.

The distinction between anger and hate -- the transition, if it is a continuum/progression -- is something I didn't think about while writing that. Seems odd, it's so obvious now that you've pointed it out.

I've hated exactly one, and perhaps two, people in my lifetime. At everyone else, I've just been pissed.

What is the dark matter between the nodes, is one question. Another is, "what is a node made up of"? My sense is that if you take a microscope to a node it will be seen to consist of many, many lines all intersecting. These lines are signs, symbols, habit-patterns, languages that are all social in their provenance. We are each of us as a mode, a network, striated by any number of lines connecting us to one another, to the books we have internalized, to our teachers, to our predecessors. The node is "always already" a network.

Yeah, that's what I was trying to get at in the math/physics analogy and the mention of fractals. Each node is a network with many nodes and each of those in a network. If you keep doing that all the way down, you get something that is of a higher dimension.

An image that is used is that of a lakeshore. When you look from space it is a simple line, but I look from standing next to it and there are more features, and the water doesn't even stop at the surface, flowing in between the grains of sand. It is now a fuzzy thing that is said to have a dimensionality between one (a line) and two (a surface). The math defines this idea precisely.

in a network -> is a network. Preview might be usefule for me.

A node is already a network of networks. As an atom is a solar system. The "Solitary I" of the libertarian is an entire city.

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