When we talk about human networks – as in the Milgram-influenced thinking of Tipping Point etc – we tend to think of them as if they were information networks (i.e. as networks or systems through which bits of information can be transmitted like Milgram’s parcels).
I think this may be wrong (no, ok, I believe this is wrong): human-human interaction is not largely about information; human social networks are not largely information-based but behaviourally based. Each of us in a network does stuff because of what those in our network (or those without) are doing not because of the information which is transmitted to us…remember ‘phatic‘ and aizuchi communication (communication without informational content). Behaviours and not information is what moves around human networks
Of course, there’s a lot of sense in the “as if” here. Human social networks are “like” informational ones, but they aren’t the same as, are they?
I suspect that this error derives is another example of the ueber-influence that information tech stuff casts over all our thinking about human behaviour.
What do you think?