Almost Poetry: “The Network is the Blog”

On this post, I have almost little to say as Jon Udell’s “The Network is the Blog” is so on spot and astute, and, well poetic. He hits some things which sound obvious in reading but easily to forget- the electricity of the blog-o-verse has everything to do with the human network it travels upon.

The dictionary definition of “blog” is correct, but it says nothing about the network in which the blog participates.

By way of analogy, consider a dictionary definition of a telephone: “an instrument that converts voice and other sound signals into a form that can be transmitted to remote locations and that receives and reconverts waves into sound signals.” That’s fine if you already know what a telephone network is, but the definition doesn’t work on its own.

Just as telephones are meaningful only when connected to the telephone network, so blogs are meaningful only when connected to the blog network. Both are carriers of human communication, but where the telephone network is essentially fixed — at least for now, until VoIP softens its structure — the blog network is malleable and is shaped by our use of it. It’s more like a nervous system than a computer network, and for good reason.

We can’t say exactly how the trick is done, but we understand the basics: a network, a message-passing protocol, nodes that aggregate inputs and produce outputs. The blog network shares these architectural properties. Its foundation network is the Web; its protocol is RSS; its nodes are bloggers. These ingredients combine in ways that are not yet widely appreciated.

The blog network is made of people. We are the nodes, actively filtering and retransmitting knowledge. Clearly this architecture can help manage the glut of information. More subtly, it can also help ensure that no vital inputs are suppressed because nobody has to rely on a single source. If one of the feeds I monitor doesn’t react to some event in a given domain, another probably will. When they all react, I know it was an especially important event.

The resemblance of this model to the summing of activation potentials in a neural system is more than superficial. Nature knows best.

And this network is no under a dominant corporate thumb or government grip (yet? that we know of?).


Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


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