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Our Network is Alive

The British novelist Ian McEwan said, “The naming of what is there is what is important.” But there is a thing, or an idea, a system or network, that we live with every day, that we live in, that we, in point of fact, are, which has no name.

When apprehending and recognizing something new, we humans name it. Some say we name things in order to control them and there might be some truth to that. But who would not elect to control an earthquake than be controlled by one?

Our information gathering network has changed out of recognition, but its taxonomy has lagged behind. We need to name this new network, and we would like the readership of ReadWriteWeb to help us.

In the Big Room, our editorial chat room, we were speaking about the earthquake that struck Baja this afternoon.

Before the media, even the new media, got it, we had read it on Twitter. ReadWriteWeb has written before on the ability of this new tool, and others like it, to gather and disseminate information.

In the course of this discussion, we came to a surprising realization. Twitter was no more the issue than the so-called mainstream media was. We were beyond all of that now. Our network was not restricted to three news channels, or the cable news networks, or a handful of social media websites or thousands of Facebook accounts, or even all of those things taken as a whole. Our access to information, our ability to exchange it, was no longer bound by anything at all, with the possible exception of time. The reason for this sea-change is that we ourselves have in part become the system formerly we only used. We have become the fulcrum of our own network. Prometheus is well and truly unbound.

This network, the one that connects us to virtually every part of the world, to every person on the globe, branches like a Mandelbrot set. It consists of computing devices from desktop computers to laptops to tablets to phones; it consists of every program written to run those devices, every website and service that helps us to process and move the truths we witness or create; it consists of cell towers and server farms; it consists of social media tools and word processing programs; but above all it consists of, it is powered by, human beings, both singularly and in aggregate, minds and mind.

Our network is alive.

But it needs a name, and we don’t have one. Jokingly, one of us called it The Culture. It isn’t. It isn’t even a culture. Just a network. But a vast one, a possibly game-changing one and, above all, a nameless one, one which we should control rather than allow to control us.

Help us assert control over an exciting, but daunting reality. What should this global network, this lace of machine and human, location, data and feeling, thought and thing, observer and observed, speaker and listener, be called?

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

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