Wednesday, March 23, 2005

New Projects in Rhizome & Weak Network Development

Just a couple of updates on projects that are experimenting with the potential of rhizome structure and weak networks:

Locus: Billed as an "Experimental Social Interface", Locus examines your instant message patterns, compares it to the characteristics of other IM users, and identifies shared interests and similarities that you may not have been aware of within your existing network. This raises the possibility that the expanding connectivity and power of the internet may automatically suggest to rhizome nodes potential link partners--either online in the sense of suggested blogs to link to, or off-line in the sense of business networking, etc. The potential to partially automate the process of creating weak links (See TOP Chapter 9) in a social or business network provides rhizome yet another advantage over hierarchy, as hierarchy cannot effectively utilize such a tool without jeopardizing its structural command and control.

(Above) Diagram from HP's analysis of social networks

HP Leadership Diagrams: Hewlett-Packard is now experimenting with a process of analyzing the email flow within an office to identify the de-facto leaders, and the most critical participants in various fields. By examining who sends emails to who, and in what proportions, along with the content of these emails, HP is diagramming the power relationships within business structures. As expected, they have identified that most leadership and power is held by hubs in these email communications networks, and not necessarily by those appointed with positions of formal power. As email communication (or other forms of easily diagrammable communication) become increasingly ubiquitous, what impact will this type of automated analysis have on the evolution of hierarchal or rhizomatic power structures? Does this type of diagramming represent a tool to better control the information processing problems within hierarchy, or does it represent a tool to better adapt rhizome structure to areas previously dominated by hierarchy?

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