The thought occurred to me in the last two days that there might be some intriguing analogies between how a network (like the gift circle network) might develop and how a person develops their cognitive skill.
The brain’s neural network can be a metaphor for the organization network. In the brain different neurons pass along electrical signals. The larger patterns of how these electrical signals forms thoughts and memories. The larger pattern of ideas/forms/facilitation methods being passed from node to the node in an organization itself may form organizational ‘thoughts and memories’.
There are also some possible analogies with Jean Piagets famous model of childhood development of cognition. It goes thru the sensorimotor stage, the pre-operational, operational, and then formal stage.
In the sensori-motor stage a child coordinates their senses with their motor skills.
In the pre-operational stage they can represent objects and form categories.
In the operational stage they can perform operations on objects, e.g. sort, apply sets of rules etc.
In the formal stage they can perform operations on abstract categories without having to refer to a physical object.
What are the analogies to an organizational network for these stages. Lets look at a gift circle network. In the sensori-motor stage the gift circle network begins to learn to react to different societal conditions, environmental conditions with its own response. The gift circle network is probably trying to get to this stage now learning how it coordinates itself to make things happen.
In the pre-operational stage the gift circle network would be able to recognize and see different societal/environmental situations and form different ‘neuronal’ patterns across the whole network for different situations. So for instance if there is a food shortage in a particular geographical area, the gift circle network will have particular configurations it goes into as a response to that food crisis. Or if there was a want to build create a conference, the gift circle network will have a particular set of configurations it goes into to manifest that conference. By looking at how the gift circles are activating each other one should be able to tell what is going on in the communities. Our gift circle network is not yet at this stage.
At the operational level the gift circle network would start being able to reconstruct itself into different configurations in order to make community projects happen or to adapt to crisis.
In order to get to the sensorimotor level the gift circle network has to learn how to coordinate itself. Right now its still linking itself up. So the different gift circles have to listen to each other, and see what each other is doing, anticipate and help each other.
Once it can do that the next task is for it to begin a process of abstraction where the gift circle as a whole realizes it can reorder into quite different patterns based on the same stimulus. This will take it to the pre-operational stage.
I realize I am not being totally clear here with my ideas.. its intuition I have for the time being. It may spell itself out in future posts.