The network of life

Manuel Lima challenges the prevailing metaphor of the tree for understanding systems. The metaphor has deep roots (see what I did there?), for instance when we casually say genetics is a branch of biology.

We can now visualise systems as networks, revealing far greater complexity and interconnectedness. A tree model of species creates categories that seem clearly divided; a network model reveals far more elaborate bacterial interconnection.

We can shift from seeing a tree of life, to seeing a network of life.

There’s an immediate connection to my work here. I’ve posted before about how many meeting formats reduce the potential for interconnection between participants. On the other hand, it’s possible for simple approaches to help make us more aware of the richness of connection that already exists. For instance, the Unhurried format I’ve been using for a while now.

Also, in doing training work, I’m really interested in seeing participants as a network in which all can create and share knowledge ideas, rather than as a tree in which knowledge cascades down from the expert.

Hat tip: Brain Pickings

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.