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Re: <nettime> Network, Swarm, Microstructure
Alexander Galloway on Sun, 23 Apr 2006 03:50:11 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Network, Swarm, Microstructure


On Apr 19, 2006, at 8:38 PM, Brian Holmes wrote:

> quit saying a network is this, a network is that.

there is a long, fruitful history of people doing just that. so perhaps
this thread suffers not from a desire to define the term, but from a
lack of specificity in our vocabulary.

a brief, unorganized survey might help:

centralized network--a single hub connected to multiple peripheral
nodes; little to no interconnection between nodes.
examples: web server, software security updates, the panopticon prison,
sovereign (royal) fiat, LAN router, pyramidal hierarchy

decentralized network--multiple hubs, each with their own sets of
peripheral nodes; hubs are connected to other hubs.
related concept: scale-free network (Barab=E1si)
examples: Domain Name System (DNS), airline transportation routes,
municipal governments

distributed network--a flat mesh in which there is no distinction
between hubs and peripheral nodes (Baran)
related concept: rhizome (Deleuze and Guattari)
related concept: random network, a network having a random distribution
of links (Barab=E1si).
examples: TCP/IP, peer-to-peer, national highway systems

chain network--a linear input/output transfer system
examples: smuggler trade routes, IP routing

all-channel network--a star in which every node is connected to every
other node
examples: Ethernet, kin groups, collectives

(note, this list only approaches the topological/structural qualities of
networks. we would have to supplement the list greatly if we wish to
address the topic of network actors [example: the nomad, the virus]
and/or networked tactics of struggle [example: swarming, exploits,
nonexistence].)

we can and should say what networks are. otherwise networks sink into
the landscape as inscrutable, natural forms. such is the trick of power.

references:
Albert-L=E1szl=F3 Barab=E1si, "Linked" (2002)
Paul Baran, "On Distributed Communications" (1964)
Gilles Deleuze and F=E9lix Guattari, "A Thousand Plateaus" (1980)


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