Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Network Model of Biological Evolution?

Finishing Tim Ingold's piece and the book Linked by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi in the same day was more circumstance than anything, but the overlap was unavoidable.  Barabasi, a Hungarian physicist at the University of Notre Dame, has been forging a new line of research known as Applied Network Theory.  Seminal work in the field includes The Strength of Weak Ties, The Small World Problem, and more recently on power-laws: Power laws, Pareto distributions and Zipf's law

Inspired partly by computer networks, applied network theory takes the basic data structure of a network of interconnected nodes and applies it as a model to various naturally occurring phenomenon.  Some particularly good examples revealed in Barabasi's book include social networks, cell-biology and genetics, international financial markets, and everyone's favorite network, the world wide web*.  Interesting properties, of varying degrees of complexity, fall out of simple network structure like "hubs" of proportionally large inter-connectivity, "islands" of relatively segregated sub-networks, and of course weak links such as those found abundantly in social networks.

The connection to Tim Ingold's call for a organism-centric biology is not hard to see.  Network theory offers a simple and scalable model for organism-culture interaction.  A directed graph (one in which nodes' connectivity distribution is said to follow a power-law) could explain mimetic / culturgen heritability and expansion.  Networks have been used to show how companies rise to monopolies, how youtube videos go viral, and why child-naming patterns exhibit momentum.  Networks offer what could prove to be an elegant reconciliation of implicate organismal traits and their relationship to culture.

*One emergent feature of directed networks are sub-structures referred to as "tubes" which are segments in which elongated, one-directional flow occurs.  Thus, U.S. Alaskan Senator from, Ted Stevens, wasn't completely full of crap when he so elequently characterised the internet as a series of tubes.


  1. India Is Us works closely with these NGOs helping them spread a word and encouraging people to do good. Go more information :

  2. Great Article
    Best Brand Building Agency India-CHL Worldwide is top integrated advertising agency in India which provide best brand building and brand custodian services. Go here:

  3. CHL Software Technologies acknowledges this need and is geared to provide top notch digital solutions for your


  4. International Communication Services (ICS), a global consortium, is the premium provider for marketing communication services specializing in multilingual and multicultural projects. Click here

  5. CHL is the preferred localization partner for Indian languages and international languages by most of the leading international localization companies based in Noida. Click here:

  6. csr consulting agency chennai

    The India is us is a CSR Consulting service provider firm in India. We help our partners co-create inclusive businesses that are scalable, sustainable and global. Click here:

  7. Digital Printing in Dubai. ICS Dubai Printing services encompass all sort of digital printing services from ordinary laser

    printing to large format printing. Click Here:


Keep it real