In this week’s discussion of networks, the topmost of the three layers (social-external, conceptual, and neural) seems to be the most attractive, probably because research of the large numbers of social nodes involves both qualitative and quantitative interests.
I am particularly fascinated about how this social level interacts with the conceptual level through mechanisms like “People who read this also read that“. In a way, this makes people’s networks function as a fuzzy sort of classification scheme for concepts or subjects that is much more flexible and powerful than explicit taxonomies.
Within the analysis of conceptual networks, of course the tree vs. web dichotomy is the most obvious issue that has intrigued me ever since my very first blog post in 2004, and it also constitutes the difference between mind maps (trees) and concept maps (webs).
Bradley Shoebottom and his commenter Ailsa discussed about how hierarchical our “noodles” are. Here is my yesterday`s comment that is still waiting for moderation:
I wouldn’t see hierarchies/ trees as an incompatible opposite of networks/ webs. They are a border case, and mixed forms like this map (containing a cross link) are very useful. The more certainty we need the more hierarchical topology will emerge (i. e., the connection strengths will be binary). So for a belief system its no surprise to become a tree. However, software and industrial office organization have indeed skewed the balance in our noodles unduly towards trees.