Archive - Oct 21, 2010

Self

Yesterday, I posted a Wordless Wednesday image which I left untitled and invited people to share their thoughts on. Today, I’ll explain it a little bit more.

First, I should talk about Wordless Wednesday. It is an old Internet meme. Every Wednesday, people post images, typically with no words or a minimum of words. Wordless Wednesday participants visit each others blogs and share comments and links. It is an important way of being part of a blogging community.

My blog is decidedly eclectic. I write about politics, technology, psychology, media, marketing, what’s happening here in Connecticut, and anything else that captures my imagination. For me, it is important not to be a niche blogger, but to be a connector. I want to get people coming to my blog for one reason to stop and spend a little time and perhaps read about a topic they don’t normally pay attention to. Wordless Wednesday is a great way to do this.

The image, ‘Self’, ties a lot of this together. It is an image I created with Graphviz. Graphvix is a popular graphing program and my tutorial on using GraphViz continues to be one of the most popular posts I’ve written.

The image is a combination of Graphviz images. Each of the eight larger circles contain an image I created in Graphviz, and Graphviz was used to combine all of them into the one image. The smaller images were created with a PHP script that randomly created connections between 25 nodes in a graph. These smaller images are meant to represent neural networks. In biology, a neural network is the network of connected neurons and are associated with how we perceive and learn things.

This has led to work in artificial neural networks. These are computational models especially well suited towards pattern recognition. I spent a bit of time looking into artificial neural networks back in the 1990s, and it struck me that when you combine various networks with one another, you end up with an ‘internet’ or simply a larger network.

Social networking is all the rage these days. Our social networks are, essentially, networks biological neural networks, or a larger neural network. I don’t find a lot of people thinking about the social networks this way, perhaps because it is a bit too geeky, but I do believe there is importance in thinking about our connections this way.

I explored this idea a bit recently in my blog post The Self at the Intersection of Podcamps and Group Psychotherapy . I quoted a line from one of the keynotes at the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) annual conference in Washington, "The self exists at the intersection of our internal neural networks and our external social networks."

I believe it is important to explore our social networks as an extension of our internal neural networks and think about how they are affecting us. How does your blog surfing, email reading, Facebook status, twitter tweeting affect and change who you are?

I felt that a good way to illustrate some of this was to create my Wordless Wednesday image. Each larger circle is a person in a social network. The links between them represent the links they have in their social networks. The images inside of them are their own internal neural networks.

Is your social network changing your internal neural network? Is it a good thing? A bad thing? Or neutral? What are your thoughts about this image now?

Footnote: PodcampCT was a great chance to explore connections in our social network face to face. Today, Wendy from Life With Wendy wrote about her social media experience at PodcampCT. Check it out as you think about further explorations into your social network.