Networks of Power


biggest changes in history are the achievements of thinly documented, informally organized groups


 Niall Ferguson, The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook

Around the same time I deleted Twitter I started reading Niall Ferguson’s latest book, The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook. Not as good or concise as his The Ascent of Money which I read earlier this year, nonetheless it had a few interesting parts that made me think about historical causes from a different perspective. 


From Boston to Bordeaux, revolution was in large measure the achievement of networks of wordsmiths, the best of whom were also orators whose shouted words could rally the crowd in the square and incite them to storm the towers of the old regime.

Niall Ferguson

The personal application of understanding and observing networks in everyday life is fascinating and exceptionally interesting. For example, myself, and most of the readers of this blog are part of a lateral network of right-leaning conservative readers and writers of Science Fiction and Fantasy. A lot of us are also networked through different social media and share memberships in some of the same groups. A few of us have published work in the same magazines.

I would love to see a network analysis that plotted all of the connections and correspondence. It would be fascinating to see where the main nodes of communication and transmission lie. Looking at myself and how I fit into the network my guess would be that one of the biggest common nodes a lot of us share is Jeffro Johnson, closely followed by Cirsova. 

Understanding networks and subsequently focusing and harnessing their power is critical to success in a hostile environment like SFF writing. The traditional publishing world is made up of a series of interconnected networks and the last few eventful Hugo awards illustrate that fact. It’s no secret that a lot of the traditional publishers are very homogeneous in thought and style. You can map a lot of the publishers and writers through different nodes based on writing programs and writing workshops.

Networks are powerful. Building and cultivating a network of like minded readers and writers is critical. Supporting and being active members is critical. Comment on blog posts, share blog posts, encourage others to read works by independent writers you respect. 


Actions that help build trusted networks serve your cause

It’s the way to power. 

5 thoughts on “Networks of Power

  1. Interesting. I often fail to see the forest for the trees in networking. I look at individuals not groups and lose site of the power of them. I’ll add that to the stack. I’m about to tackle the Folgers Edition Henry the V soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s interesting to map how my network changed from when I first started blogging to today. I met Mike Duran somewhere in the middle, and a whole network of people congregated at his site. That’s how I found my original audience. It wasn’t huge, but it existed. Then everybody moved to Facebook and established Realm Makers; I ditched Facebook and lost many of those friends, but found I had more in common with the Jeffro/Castalia/Cirsova crowd on Twitter anyway. On a Venn diagram, I would find overlaps. But one thing’s certain–this “Jeffro” network is a harder nut to crack audience wise. So I’m left without an audience for books but with a lot of cool friends. Where to find my network? I don’t know. But studying interconnectedness is always fascinating regardless.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Really interesting way of looking at this, and that sounds like a cool book. Ferguson is an interesting cat.

    Me, I came across this network on Twitter, of all places (I know, I know) where I met Rawle Nyanzi . . . who happened to live near where I had just moved. So we hung out in person too, though not as often as I would have liked. From there, I met the rest of you.

    There is strength in numbers, and organization and network matters. None of this libertarian “I don’t join any groups, ever, because all groups are evil collectives!” nonsense here!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. rawlenyanzi

      As far as the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance goes, rugged individualists disprove rugged individualism. No man is an island; everyone needs some kind of support.

      Liked by 2 people

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