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.
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.