Monday, September 24, 2012

Networks as Models

This week I would like to think through Granovetter's essay in terms of Thrift's understanding of the role that calculation and computers played in the 20th century. When Granovetter presents his diagrams of social interaction and the relationships between people he seems to be practicing exactly the kind of 'qualculations' that Thrift describes. It is not simply the case that Granovetter produces quantifiable descriptions of social interactions but that these descriptions are in fact newly produced qualities that alter our understanding of the world as a whole. Thrift sees this as a similar spatial and temporal change produced during the transition from oral to written history. As such, his description of the rise of 'qualculations' in the 20th century seems to follow that of Benedict Anderson's understanding of the effects of print capitalism. Rather than being situated in a homogenous space though, the individual subject is forced to communicate with others in a, "continuously diffracting spatial montage" (Thrift 591). What is interesting to me in this regard is that this discontinuous but simultaneous spatial montage seems to be produced by the network model itself. I am unsure if this is entirely correct, but it does seem to be the case that Thrift argues that the complex models we are now able of creating (theoretically to provide ourselves with a totalizing view of the world) are contributing to our fragmented spatial and temporal frameworks. I am interested to what extent then the act of cognitive mapping (as in Jameson) or description necessarily alters our spatial or subjective orientation.

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