network critical: immanent effects

Albert-László Barabási has written two beautiful books dealing with network theory. It is in the second, however, that what was only latent in the first becomes clear. It is brought out in three ways: in this book Barabási shows that he is a writer; Bursts deals with network effects in time; and where the real world application of network theory worked by way of analogy in Linked, in the second, and under the auspices of time, it is the real world that takes over.

My question is: at the very time that we are most connected, why is it that we are most isolated?

It is as if they are part of the same problematic, as if the network connecting us itself provided the anatomy for our isolation, as for our connection.

It is also as if the very time were part of the problematic and the question had as much to do with its realism – its adequacy to reality – as the reality of what is purported and what purports to be current, present, relevant, even critical: the current “crisis.”

We are caught in a movement between Barabási’s two books. From the analogical real world application of network theory to the immanence of communicating networks in a real world in time. Moreover, the intensification of this critical moment, of this moment of crisis – the intensification of the crisis, then – could itself be a network effect, in Barabási’s words, a burst. That is, the fact of there being power-nodes operating in a spatialised network produces a concatenatory effect in time. Time is not indifferent, but broken or cut by moments of crisis: bursts of intensity, self-intensifying and self-exacerbating according to network effects.

The very time, however, is it one of crisis or continuity? How to judge, when the space-time network is so resilient, has been engineered to be so resilient, as to withstand, continue and even thrive in times of crisis!

The crisis of these very times may be prolonged indefinitely, exactly continuous with and in continuity with the network.