Complex and invested, this week’s reading is rich in examples and theoretical questions surrounding systems and their components. Illustrating the vulnerability within these connections, Watts not only remarks about individual behaviour, but also on it’s impact to aggregate collective behaviour. Scientifically, the pervasive ideas of connection and consciousness have been fundamental game changers.
‘How vulnerable are large infrastructure networks like the power grid or the Internet to random failures or even deliberate attack? How do norms and conventions evolve and sustain themselves in human societies, and how can they be upset and even replaced?’ – Duncan J. Watts
Following modern science, Watts discusses the intricate way of systems by describing their behaviours, almost at a molecular level. Looking at the chain of organisation and the application of individual parts, it is in the interactions to which present unlimited consequences and possibilities. Relating this to hypertext as a system of ever-expanding parts, the unique differences and links available not only surges information, but subsequently forms groups, systems and density.
‘All these systems are networks, but all are completely distinct in one sense or another. By constructing a language for talking about networks that is precise enough to describe not only what a network is but also what kinds of different networks there are in the world, the science of networks is lending the concept real analytical power.’ – Duncan J. Watts
So while networks are systems, it is their past reputation that can be seen as limiting their potential; being viewed as ‘objects of pure structure whose properties are fixed in time.’ This is not the case, especially with hypertext and literacy. Networks are constantly evolving and changing with time, adapting to decisions and driven by activity. Things happen depending on the hows and whys, integrating segments and expanding in multiple directions.