CCK08: Networks, groups, nodes

Life struggles to emerge from the inexorable increase of entropy stated by the second law of thermodynamics with two legs: groups and networks.

As usual, we tend to dichotomise the discussion.

Groups and networks are synergic. Nodes are not a sort of dimensionless points but have structure. Internal structure of nodes is related to their functionality within the network.

Nodes “are” groups. I mean, Nature creates groups to function as nodes in networks.

Nodes require internal structure and hierarchical organization to function. Networks grow spontaneously, or better said, chaotically. Our world is entirely made of chaotically grown networks made of structured nodes.

How do we build a car today? I read of a new chinese car which is chinese because its conception and the management of the industrial process took place in China. However, the various systems that compose the car are manufactured in US, Germany, Austria, China and some other places. The car will be assembled in south Italy. This is the trend. Today you buy a car of a given brand but more then 50% of that car has been designed, built and assembled not by the brand you choose but by a worldwide network of suppliers. Do you need brakes for a new car? Well, you have to choose among all the available brake manufacturers and you will connect to those who will be able to provide the brakes you need at the lowest cost. The nodes of this industrial network are companies. Companies are highly structured groups of people. All the employers of a company are members of a group organized in a strictly hierarchical way. The company, in order to function behaves as a node in a network characterized by a very well defined set of rules. However, the network grows chaotically.

Our society is made of communities, ranging from minuscule villages to very large metropolis. All these communities are very structured groups of people. There have always been communications among communities, even a long time ago. Our society have been always shaped as a network of communities. But the network of communities grows spontaneously. Villages and towns rise because of a very complex blending of factors. Nobody has planned the whole distribution of towns in a country. Scaring experiments, such as in the implementation of communism, have been made but they all ruined in human tragedy.

The world of open source is a network of software developers. Each developer acts as a node in this network. Each developer is a human being, that is an extremely complex group of cells organized in a set of very complex structures.

The most complex of these structures is the brain which in turn is a network whose nodes are nervous cells. A single nervous cell is a very structured group of macromolecules.

And so on.

Our discussions are always too anthropocentric. We believe to take fundamental decisions about the use of groups or network. It is not so. Things happen. Just happened that way before us. And they will happen despite us.

This does not means that we are condemned to be passive observers of our destiny. Not completely. The world changes continuously, evolves continuously and we find ourselves in the mainstream of evolution but, fortunately or unfortunately, we have consciousness and we are able to take decisions.

Here it is important to improve our understanding of the relationships between networks and groups because the world use both of them. I would like to understand better the role of groups as nodes in networks.

I would like to understand better the balance between chaos and structures which produce stable stratified networks, despite the second law of thermodynamics.

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