If everything is a network, nothing is a network

Mushon Zer-Aviv, Visualising Information for Advocacy, Apr 29, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Good article that will push your think on networks a bit. The bulk of the discussion is devoted toward convincing people that they ought to look at more than just nodes and edges "to also include flows and (as per Galloway and Thacker) protocols." This makes sense to me, and there are other network properties that should be discussed more as well (connection weights, activation functions, and more). But the author also says "networks need narrative" because "we experience life as a narrative, not as a map and certainly not as networks. A network diagram rarely represents static relations. Narrating a flow through the nodes in the network is a useful way of examining it." To me, that's a lot like saying "we need abstractions". And in a sense it comes down to being able to visualize what's happening. "Visualising algorithms is still a small fringe in the visualisation world. It is mostly academic and so far has mainly served an internal maths and computer science discourse."

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