There is something powerful in stepping back, looking at the big picture, and recognizing your own existence is something much bigger than yourself. Linked by Albert-Laszlo Barbasi (2014) takes us on a scientific introductory journey of what networks are and how they evolve. Barbasi’s aim in this book was to open the reader’s eyes in taking notice to how every encounter we make, relationship we build, or key-stroke on our technological device builds a network. Readers can be reassured Babasi’s explanation of networks is both a fun and insightful introduction to scientifically based research on networks and all the world’s interconnectedness.
Invisible networks, even though we may not see them, shape our lives in many ways. Barbasi uses the internet as one example of how networks connect us. The internet is one of the largest human-made networks made up of links connecting webpages, all connected by clicks of a mouse or swipes of the finger. By understanding the links of a network, in this case links between webpages – we then have the power to examine a network that allows us to measure the distance between any two webpages.
An example of how the internet shapes are life is brought into reality by Barbasi considering how huge the internet is (made up of billions of nodes) he states, “While surfing (the web) might give you a different impression, in reality the web is a small world. Any document is on average only nineteen clicks away from any other” (p,34). However, it would be a misconception to think that nineteen clicks would be an easy task to find what you were looking for. Internet networks have the power to track or interests, beliefs, and affiliations by the cites and webpages we frequent as users. Subconsciously we are being ambushed with consumer marketing and subliminal messages and ultimately alter the way our lives and interests are shaped.
I completely agree with Barbasi and his stance on everything being connected. As I begin this journey learning about SNA it has been interesting to take a step back, look at the big picture, and realize I am connected to a much bigger world linked through both direct and indirect encounters with others across many mediums. Before reading this book, when I traditionally thought of a network, I thought of something like this picture….
Those I am directly connected to and linked through personal experiences. However, our networks and communities are created by links that reach a lot farther than the direct relationships created through personal experience.