Difference between revisions of "Netness"

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Latest revision as of 23:52, 17 August 2011

Definition

The concept of "Renan's Law" or "Netness" was developed by Sheldon Renan, an early observer and writer in the high tech industry". "The more things you connect", he says, "the better things work; the smarter they are; the safer they are; the more opportunity is created for sharing resources and collaborating." Conversely, says Renan, "If you limit connectivity, you decrease opportunity. You decrease safety".

One of my favorite examples of Netness deals with intelligent systems installed in everyday objects. If an elderly man slips in his bathtub, the bathtub should be able to check his pulse and other biomedical indicators. It should be able to call an ambulance if necessary, or the next of kin if nearby. The bathtub should also know which nurse or caretaker is closest and on shift, and how quickly one might be able to arrive.

Now the scale and intimacy of connectivity is increasing (accelerating) at a scary rate. We don't see it, but we do sense it. The term "netness" characterizes our new state-of-being as connectivity becomes increasingly ubiquitous, our lives increasingly "entangled."

Recognizing netness leads to recognizing this simple principle: connectivity is the most important enabler of creating of new value.

Principles of Netness

  • 1. Everything wants to be connected (or at least to be able to "converse" frictionlessly on an ad hoc basis)
  • 2. The more things are connected (able to communicate) the better things work.
  • 3. As connectivity becomes ubiquitous, systems (networks) become fields... connectivity fields...
  • 4. A new class or state of connectivity is emerging which i've been calling "entangled" (many threaded, loosely but deeply connected) as in entangled conversations, lives, communities, networks...
  • 5. As networks become fields, as lives and things become entangled, two worlds > the world of atoms and the world of bits < become one, greatly enhancing future opportunity and potential capability of all participants
  • 6. The ability to connect, coordinate, collaborate and share easily everywhere on an ad hoc basis is now replacing Moore's Law as the most important source of opportunity."

Negative Isolation

In his Phenomenon of Man, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote that connectivity = life, and isolation = death. That is why all things absolutely want to be connected. 

Sociologist Emelie Durkheim did a study on populations – he found that those of Catholic faith were less likely to commit suicide than those of Protestant faith. Did it have something to do with religion? Further research suggested that those with Catholic faiths were more likely to have stronger family ties and be part of a community, whereas those with Protestant ties were less likely to be community oriented. He found that those who were isolated from others had fewer connections. 

In Emelie Durkheim’s perspective, a malnourished public sphere deprived individuals of real social connections. In the face of this anomie, the cell phone allows an organic social network. Through the subject and the technology combined, the subject can become an Actor on the larger Actor Network. If the human spends time in a non-place, then the addition of a non-place accessed through the telephone tears through the solitary contractility characterized by the non-place. Both the place and the non-place can exist at once, because in the supermodern perspective all dichotomies blur into one another. Compare this to the former world of forward focused isolation --- TV, one way signals, into a world of interactivity. Before, the screen was far away. Now we live in that screen.

The isolated human in the non-place seeks to reconnect with those in proximity, but cannot. The cell phone is used as a substitute for interaction, but the cellphone user really wishes for face-to-face interaction over virtual interaction, and thus manages face to feign importance. The isolated human in the non-place seeks to reconnect with those in proximity, but cannot. The cell phone is used as a substitute for interaction, but the cellphone user really wishes for face-to-face interaction over virtual interaction, and thus manages face to feign importance.

I would say that yes, mobile is essentially our individual connection to this network. The history of the phone and the personal computer saw communication across distances from static positions. Now we are mobile. Things change with mobility. We can carry our closest family members in our pocket. We never have to feel alone. 

References