Networks as “Organic Behavior in a Technical Matrix”

Think of Bees

Photo Credits: justus.thane

Photo Credits: justus.thane

In this Saturday’s class, Brent Friedman went over the details of his online creation, Valemont. What is most intriguing about this was, based on the premise of the story he was able to build a community of people so engaged in this world who were willing to put their time into building alternate personalities and creating relationships with other people doing the same thing. He created a network around this show. And, what was so interesting was the show was also based on a network – a physical network of cellphones hosted on Verizon and an abstract network of people connected to one common event, the death of a main character.

The success of Valemont was not the show alone, but the ability to create a community of invested individuals. This is an obvious point, though. What is less obvious is what made it so attractive to the demographic? What need did it fill for these people?

“The only factor becoming scarce in a world of abundance is human attention.” -Kevin Kelly

This is the secret sauce. And one that needs to be constantly reevaluated. Today it might be Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and cell phones. Next year it might be Tablets, smart gear and social network that we haven’t discovered or a new way to use one we already have.  There is no durable mutation on the Internet. This is where “organic behavior” really takes effect on a “technical matrix.” Ultimately, the networks we target are made of people, and people are finicky, bored easily, and distracted by the dimmest of bright lights. Catching this changing mob is like trying to contain a swarm of bees, not only would it be almost impossible to do, they get really angry when they realize what is going on.

But bees are also probably one of the most organized networks in nature and can be highly predictable when equipped with the right knowledge and tools. This is how a networker and communicator must think of their audience.

We know they are changing, we know they are suspicious, we know they have needs and are more than willing to engage when given the right set of ingredients. But we must not allow ourselves to ease into assumptions of what they will do or what they want, and to ensure that we don’t we must listen, even more that we communicate or produce content, we must listen to what the networks are telling us.

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