Friday, September 24, 2010

In the Clouds: Networks and Society

We are studying computer networking. One thing that is interesting about it is the relationship between computer networking and society. I would say a computer network is highly constrained and simplified compared to a network of people. Yet the similarity may be strong enough that much can be learned. Particularly, we might be able to learn more about ourselves.

Since we are in the business of designing computers, we get insights into why we organize things certain ways. Since we are not in the business of designing people, we are not in the same position to get those types of insights. Following this argument, we may learn more about people through computer science, or we may learn more about society through the study of computer networking.

One of the things that inspired this thought was Andrew's description in class of roles and responsibilities in relation to coordination in distributed systems. He used terminology traditionally applied to society, which is now applied to computer science.

People who study society are typically not computer scientists. Can they learn enough about computer science to make connections to their discipline?

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