How about networks?

May 27, 2010

As a follow up to my last (and rather old) post I wanted to say something about networks as organizations and their aesthetics. I am most of the way through reading Connected, a brilliant book on the science of social networks by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler. Among the many insights is that we will be able to intentionally manage social networks as we understand more deeply how they operate. Given the power of networks to achieve many things I think it likely that many more organizations will seek to design themselves as networks.

There is much to admire about the aesthetics of networks including their emergent behavior, their resilience and their ability to evolve to be more fit over time. These are things that classically designed organizations have struggled with. Does this make networks beautiful? I certainly find the social network maps of the Framingham heart study, that the authors use to illustrate contagious behavior, quite beautiful.