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Find the Network

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Through developing this site, we've run across our fair share of network-related, but not necessary site-appropriate, content. This actually happens to us a lot - yes, much of what's good, bad and just totally wacky has a network lesson to share.

Many networks are still young and the use of network technology often starts off as "Fun". Watching network dynamics, can feels like watching a wild cat that plays, wrestles and sneaks up on its own shadow. It is all cute and fun. However, the cat is really learning how to be a hunter. It is all fun and games until the cheetah has you by the throat. Watching network "play" in an important foreshadow to serious uses of networks for social change. We played with video cameras during holidays and for family vacations then turned them on oppressive governments and human rights abuses. We watched as silly flashmobs took over the streets in big cities for instant games of freeze tag. We then watched flashriots, flashgangs mugging people on the beech or flashmobs eat ice cream in a town square as an act of defiance. We watched the network play with youtube and the evolution of dance in 2006 then watched George Allen loose his US Senate seat as a result of a youtube video.

They say you only get strategic advantage in a struggle when you do something your opponent can not.

So we'll start collecting some of these oddities here. And while we're at it, we invite challenges from the community to 'find the network' in a situation or example. (And remember, YOU'RE the WE here too, so feel free to add your 'finds' and answer 'find the network' challenges too!)

Found networks

One of my favorites: Rickrolling. Don't know what rickrolling is? Have you seriously not been duped into opening a fake URL leading to a video of 80s pop legend Rick Astley's 'Never Gonna Give You Up?' Check out the [Urban Dictionary's more complete definition] - and I swear, that's really a link to the Urban Dictionary - you are not being rickrolled.

Is there a network lesson here? You betcha! This phenomenon illustrates how completely connected we all are. Could over 1 million people (according to the Urban Dictionary) have been so easily and individually pranked prior to the rise of the internet? Unlikely. We are all online, talking to friends with similar interests, joining communities, and generally connected. We send and we share information with new speed and efficiency.

Now think about how you could spread a message for a rally, or a sign-on letter, or another such action using this same 'connectedness'. Our networks include alumni associations, other new parents, religious groups, fans of certain sports teams, etc. Rickrolling is made possible through similar networks of social and professional ties. Rickrolling is a great and funny example of the new possibilities of our increasingly interconnected space, and the new possibilities available to networks.

Update: Since writing this post, I've been forwarded a new "Iraqrolled" video clip, making light of Republican presidential candidate John McCain's timeline for US withdrawal from Iraq. Check it out below. This is a great example of how these ideas spread.

| Watch the video on YouTube (they've disabled embedding of this video on other websites...)

Find the network: challenges

Please format as follows:

  • Enter your CHALLENGE
  • Responses should begin with "RESPONSE:".

We'll just keep a running list until we have the need to archive or otherwise organize.