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My network has write permissions to my brain – THAT is the power of social networks

I’ve been doing a lot of interesting reading of some dead tree books lately (thank you, iPhone, for not having an eBook reader!). “Code v2.0” by Lessig. Open Sources 2.0, a collection of essays on open source, etc. Lots of stuff that makes me think, and hopefully makes me smarter. I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking about my job at Intel Software Network, and what I can add/contribute there.

I read Doc Searls’ essay “Making a New World” yesterday, and it was awesome. Mind opening, perspective changing. Doc is one smart dude, and I fully subscribe to the rule “If Doc says it, it’s true. Believe it. Live it.” :-) You can read the whole essay here on his site, but it was this paragraph that really struck me upside the head:

Information, we observed, is derived from the verb inform, which is related to the verb form. To inform is not to “deliver information”, but rather to form the other party. If you tell me something I didn’t know before, I am changed by that. If I believe you, and value what you say, I have granted you authority. Meaning, I have given you the right to author what I know. Therefore, we are all authors of each other. This is a profoundly human condition in any case, but it is an especially important aspect of the open source value system. By forming each other, as we also form useful software, we are making the world. Not merely changing it.

Emphasis mine. Wow. That crystalizes so many things I’ve been thinking about around my network – people whose blogs I subscribe to, who I follow on Twitter, who I friend on Facebook.

I have granted the people in my network authority – authorship – to form, inform, and shape me. They have write permissions to my brain. That is so true. chmod 775 mybrain.

THAT is the value of social networks.

THAT is what Twitter and Facebook and blogs and all of the other “social networks” are all about.

It extends beyond the geeky stuff on the web, too. The newspaper you read has authorship to form you. The music you like. The TV/video you watch. I guess we really are what we “eat”.

Agree? Disagree?

How do you choose who is in your network? Who you listen to? To whom you grant authority, and the power to inform and form you? How do you “break into” someone’s network? Can you?

Hmm. Lots to think about here. I’m sure I’ll post more about it soon. And if I’m in your network – if you’ve granted me authority and authorship – maybe what I have to say will get you thinking, too, and form/shape you in some way. Pretty freaky, huh? 😉

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4 thoughts on “My network has write permissions to my brain – THAT is the power of social networks

  1. Mike says:

    Josh, I agree 100%.

    This is the power of politics, religion and every other social movement. Re-read Adam Smith, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Nicolai Machiavelli, and read especially between the lines. This effect is how the Republicans beat the Democrats in most major elections over the last 10-15 years.

    It’s like an open source brain, or a CC license for conscious and unconscious thought. Social networks inform-form everyone and each individual forms as they resonate with the information they receive from the networks. It is very organic and epidemiological (re-read The Tipping Point), and it usually self-corrects when it gets out of hand. Just as in the rest of nature, all is chaos and all order is momentary, a Heisenberg snapshot.

    Thanks for being in my network!

  2. OK, the UNIX/Linux geek in me can get a little nitpicky 😉

    chmod 755 would give you write access and everyone else read/execute. To extend the permissions comparison, would your example be better explained with chmod 775? Assuming that those in your “group” (meaning on twitter, facebook, etc.) would also have write access to your brain while the rest of the world is without authorship to your brain?

  3. Wow! You’ve just given me the inspiration to go clean house in my feeds.

    What’s interesting, is all you’ve done is restated something I already knew, but in a way that resonated with me.

    Next, I’m going to go read Doc Searls’ essay…

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