Reading: The hub owns you

Though this week’s reading did give me some unwelcome memories of Year 12 Math Methods last year with its talk of normal distribution curves and exponential functions, I did feel that it illustrated quite well the nature of online networks, so that was nice.

These ‘hubs’ that the reading describes – nodes (or sites) with an anomalously large amount of links to and from themselves – do dominate spaces such as the Internet. Looking at the tabs I have open on Firefox now demonstrates this. Facebook is always at the far left, then YouTube, then Gmail, then a bunch of tabs for random sites that I’ll open and close intermittently. The way I navigate the Web is basically dictated by the hubs that I choose to hang around. Facebook, Youtube or Google will be my home bases, where I will spend 80% of my time, and every now and then I’ll encounter a link that will take me out into that seedy, unknown world that is, you know, the rest of the internet. I’ll spend a bit of time out there, exploring, but I’ll always end up closing that link and returning ‘home’, to my hub. Of course, for other people their hubs may be slightly different: Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Flickr, whatever, but I feel the experience is the same. Stay at the hub, go for a walk, come back soon.

The fact that these hubs have so many connections to and from themselves means that it gets pretty hard to not become anchored to them, which does restrictively shape the way we explore the internet. It might be a bit cynical to describe us as dogs on a leash or children under strict supervision, only being allowed to go and find the places or people (those ‘many’ sites with few links) as long as our owners/parents (the giant hubs/nodes), but I guess that’s the nature of navigating the network (dat alliteration doe) via links. It could possibly make for a lot more lost wandering through the wilderness if every page had the same amount of links (following a bell curve or normal distribution), and there weren’t home bases which we could consistently return to and expect to find some sort of direction (even if that direction is towards the realm of procrastination and random seven second videos). What other choices do we have anyway? Should we be just sitting and typing random addresses into the URL bar, in the hope that we’ll eventually happen on something interesting or useful?

I seem to be lacking in the poignant closing sentences department, so I’m just gonna grab the last picture I looked at before typing this post and put it up. What is relevance?

It’s a picture of a tank top I was considering getting for the gym on Etsy.

1 thought on “Reading: The hub owns you

  1. Pingback: Long Tail Vox Pops | Networked Media

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