Networks – Bound by Love

Backlinks — Love
Jon Udell using a biological analogy to look at blogspace

O’Reilly Network: Blogspace Under the Microscope [May. 03, 2002] I said in an earlier column that blogspace is a laboratory for group-forming experiments. As we conduct and observe those experiments, it seems useful to reflect on how life itself uses information loops to sustain multicellular collaboration.

The analogies are compelling — though also, let’s admit, fashionable and subject to abuse. Happily, biologists and information scientists are now talking to one another more and more. Having that conversation in blogspace might be a good way to get to the root of what blogspace is becoming, and how, and why.

“It’s hard to avoid the sense that there’s some biological force at work here.” This reminds me of the physical analogy that Moreno uses with the notion of “social atom”. There really is a pattern to seemingly random behaviour, chaos theory works with that, social net-work theory does too. However Moreno enabled the psychological work as an integral inescapable part of that investigation. Social net-works are patterns of what he called tele, feelings projected into… space. What is that space! Now it is blogspace! Moreno called it the sociometric matrix. (Hence the movie? 🙂

By going for the biological analogies it becomes easy to avoid the psychological. How about this: Patterns of linking – new norms and technology for doing so – are expressions of archetypal forces. That leads us to examine them as stories, myths, gods.

So what is the backlinking an expression of psychologically? On the net we tend to keep strict control of how public we make our choices and also our chosen-ness. We reveal our popularity, say being in the top 40 of daypop, or showing off the hit counter, but keep access to the logs private. Biologically, technologically there are reasons for that… from a marketing perspective there are economic reasons. Psychologically? Our chosen-ness, our choices are both the stuff of cyberspace, and the stuff of who we really are. What we click and what we link reveals a lot and who clicks and who links us does too. What are these forces of attraction? Forces of attraction on a physical plane… are magnetism, gravity. But see where it leads when we look through that psychological eye: Love. Eros. We want to control Love. It can’t be done. There must be a story there.

How about this passage by Stanley Richards: Eros, Master od Perversity

It comes about like this: Eros draws us to what is opposite because he is the desire for union. Giving way to Eros means permitting yourself to be attracted, not merely to what you like – but towards what is different from you, even radically different, even to what repulses you. For Eros is the great joiner. He reaches out to join you to what is unlike you: the opposite sex, the opposite idea, the opposite way of life, the opposite goal, the opposite course, the opposite god and, heaven help us, the opposite morality.

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