May 21 2009

Small-world networks and exponential effects

by at 2:25 pm under Uncategorized

From my coworkers and the upper-level administration at my job to CCT graduate school faculty and students, my intellectual network is built from very differing styles of networks. In a sense, graduate school is one of the easiest ways to make ties to a very disparate network. As we all begin through a link to the program, our paths are connected through a very large node (CCT) to a very extensive network and we each bring our own smaller intellectual backgrounds with us. I exchange ideas within graduate school to perhaps a greater effect than within my work, where the level of participation is much more like a traditional hierarchy.

In analyzing Buchanan’s theories in relation to my experience, it seems as if the Washington Consensus was built upon a more traditional dissemination model. On page 146, Buchanan notes that “more complex networks tend to fluctuate less and are more stable than simpler networks.” This could be a telling insight into how the small-world network effect, where one chopped link can effectively “destroy” an entire ecological (or economic?) network. The link may have been the dialogue between each and every nation.

Development strategies that might make the workplace more effective is to treat it more like a “graduate school” environment and less like a traditional hierarchical workplace. By allowing in a collection of policy-makers with diverse backgrounds in education and culture and encouraging discussion between them, the force of knowledge would be cumulative rather than disseminated from the top.

“We are living in exponential times…”  If you haven’t seen the “Did you know” video created by Karl Fisch, a high school teacher in Colorado and modified by Scott McLeod, Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Iowa State Univ, you should take a look.  I think the video’s content effectively demonstrates many of the theories that Buchanan expounds in his book about information technology and the interconnectivity of our networks.

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One Response to “Small-world networks and exponential effects”

  1. D. Linda Garcia on 25 May 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Suz.. this is a very nicely written, and intelligent blog. I enjoyed it thoroughly. LInda

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