SOCIAL NETWORKS SQUARED – collaborative time-weaving

  • Recent research confirms that “who we are” is more determined by the trajectory over life of our social network than from personal agency. We are all nodes in a changing network.  The relative roles of person vs node has yet to be adequately researched. Here I use this conceptual scheme in analogy for how we “view” <events, happenings, issues, causes>.
  • Whenever I witness a “report” about an <event, happening, issue, cause>, ranging from Climate Change to family issues, I immediately flash on the embedded nature of my concern within the vast network of other potential concerns. Although the information in the report may be valid, it appears quite moot to “solving the problem”.
  • This is a variation of the theme discussed by the Club of Rome leading to their coining of the term “problematique” to label a situation comprised of many highly interdependent problems. The Problem/Solution paradigm, as useful as it can be in many situations, becomes a powerful barrier to the “resolution of problematiques”.
  • The Problem/Solution paradigm works only if that which is ignored as irrelevant in defining the problem are truly irrelevant.
  • What is clearly evident (to me) on learning of proposed solutions to reported problems is that their implementation requires the concurrent solution to many other problems in the network of <events, happenings, issues, causes> . What concerns me is that this observation appears to be in a blindspot of those reporting on the problem and proposed solution. Most truly believe that their proposed “solution” will solve the “problem”. Some (politicians) believe that simply stating a problem implies a solution.
  • The identification of the meta issue, problemateques, doesn’t immediately lead to ideas on what-to-do. Problematiques immediately become just another category of problem to be solved. This article  reduces a problematique to a “graphical portrayal – a structural model – of relationships among members of a set of problems” in historical context back to Aristotle. In my opinion, this still leaves a problematique as a problem to be solved.


  • I speculate that this meta issue requires major, concurrent  shifts in many paradigms and perspectives.
  • We need to replace the traditional structure/process frame with a complementarity of two processes: Structuring Process & Processing Structure. Exactly what-to-do with this insight remains our challenge.
  • I grok the meta issue to involve the STRUCTURE of our interactive online, social-networking systems AND the PROCESS competencies we have habituated. These are locked-in with each other and strongly resist fundamental change. We appear blocked in creating ways to collaboratively navigate very large and complex conceptual schemes – partly because most can’t imagine the need or believe that is what they are already doing.
  • I speculate that what is missing are appropriate tools for “collaborative time-weaving”. The past as fixed references in preserved archives, even when access is easy via hyperlinks, forces interaction to be primarily presentations, comments, and exchanges. The active semiotic system is always “the present”.

We may comment on an item published in the past, but the comment is made in “the present”.  All context becomes historical and in the background of present interactivity.

Time-weaving calls for a semiotic system of continually edited/organized recent & historical docs (linked to the fixed historical record), with advanced methods of navigation and management. Wikipedia is an experimental first step. Another metaphor is a “Global Brain” – for which there has been considerable discourse, most of which I am not familiar with. The relevant past must be brought into the active present. Contexts will become transparent.


  •     Humans will need to be trained to work with the new systems.
  •     How to explore, catalyze, and moderate this process is our challenge.


Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.