Our eyeballs can see nodes, but not connections unless they're hard wired. Most connections are subtle, hidden or implied without taking form. As result, there is excessive attention on nodes, as Ailsa recently explored on her blog: Exploring the dark wood. In the comments I added there over the last few days, I explored some connections to Bruno Latour's Actor Network Theory. Since then I've been reflecting on what else is missing in all this exploration of connections. Interfaces, users and edges came to mind.
When systems are closed they lack interfaces. They seem to be for internal use only. They don't share information, make access easy or attempt to connect outside it's own boundaries. yet these closed systems are very well connected internally. Their lack of external connections is usually an indication of internal availability to every kind of resource, support and information they need.
When networks are self serving, there are no users to be served. It's all self-service and DIY functionality. There's no need to understand users or uses made of the functionality. Everybody is free to do what they want as if that will be useful to them. Providing structure to guide uses or advance the users abilities seems excessively imposing, authoritarian and industrialized.
When networks are ubiquitous, they lack edges. They seem to be everywhere in a way where there's no way to cross a line, reach a limit or hit a wall. Thus there is no supporting those who may have come to an edge, gotten stuck or maxed out. Everyone is getting connected as if that's an end in itself.
If a network had interfaces, user support and edges, many would say it's no longer a network. They make a purist argument about connections between nodes that handle anything that comes up. They might also argue that a system with interfaces, user support and edges needs to be more networked, interconnected and complex. Interfaces, user support and edges are missing from the focus on connections because connections and edges are mutually exclusive in the minds of these advocates.
What if connections and edges are two sides of one coin when we give less emphasis to nodes? What if there is a both/and alternative to replace the either/or conceptualization? What if nodeless networks are comprised of connections that require interfaces to compensate for the absence of nodes? What if a network that embodies wonder, questions, unknowns and ongoing explorations would easily imagine it serving users encountering edges in spite of all the connectivity? What if I explore this further tomorrow?