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The power of network thinking

At their heart social media sites and applications are about networks.

In this step we will look at the arguments for an increased role of networks in our understanding of the world, and for a new science of networks. A discipline that would be a key tool for web scientists and anyone who wants to understand the way that social media works.

Networks are critical for Web Science; by understanding the digital, social and knowledge networks of the Web we can gain new understanding about how the Web is structured, and how people and communities behave.

But are networks important for all of our scientific and philosophical understanding? And is there a coherent science of networks that web scientists could draw on to support their work?

The power of networks

Take a look at the RSA Animation about the power of networks linked from this article. It argues that as we become increasingly aware of the complexity of the world around us, we must move from using tree structures to networks, in order to fully reflect, appreciate and interpret that complexity.

The video takes a very strong position on the importance of networks. To what extent do you think that network thinking is essential to the understanding of our modern world? Might it help us to think about social networks - can they tell us anything about individuals, communities, or even a whole society?

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This article is from the free online course:

The Power of Social Media

University of Southampton

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