It seems that there’s a broad misunderstanding these days about networks and what a network can do based on the connections between elements in a network. Today a lot of people seem to want to form control networks instead of open networks. For example, cancel culture is about forming networks to exclude the participation of some potential members and to favor the participation of others. As soon as you do that you create a net instead of a network. That net is meant to trap some and block others. When you do that, you stop the network from growing to become whatever is needed.
In politics, the idea lately has been to promote participation by excluding some so that everyone knows that unless they pretend to believe in certain ideas, they will not be welcome to play any part whatever in what the network can accomplish. That seems like a terrible error that is unwise in the context of what happens in nature.
In nature, networks form spontaneously in an ever changing set of connections that come and go depending on what energy and opportunity there is to connect. Think about the way water behaves as a fluid substance because of weak and ever changing connections called Van der Waals forces. These are weak connections between H+ and OH- or hydrogen and hydroxide. These connections mean that water is wet. Van der Waals connections also mean that water can move into any space and fill it. Water can have surface tension because of weak forces. That’s what makes life on earth possible. Where would we be without water?
Among people, social connections that form spontaneously can also be extremely valuable. Instead of selecting people because of what they believe or don’t believe, or by some other trait, I think that it works better to allow connections to form between people to do something that needs doing. In our economy, an openness toward people who want to contribute is valuable. Too much emphasis today on using networks to control access leads to less participation and less energy and opportunity to do anything.
For example, getting an education that provides a basic set of skills and understanding can allow more people to participate in the economy than over-credentializing education into very narrow specialties. I’m amazed to see that a lot of employers expect people to pay for retraining when their basic skills already should allow a simple transition into another career in our quickly changing times. Today the average span of each job is so short that there’s a lot less return on investment for retraining. Wasting anyone’s ability to contribute, wastes what a more inclusive society can accomplish when more people can work together.
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