Saturday, October 24, 2015

Attributes of connectivity

From my Inaugural Lecture, 15 September 2015.

Title: 'Connectivity isn't everything (but it's almost everything)'

The final contribution of the Organization Studies paper was a short list of attributes of connectivity that was prompted by a reviewer, who challenged me to say why connectivity was a unique metaphor for organisation.  That was a blessing, because it is so rare to be able to contribute anything novel or new in today’s academic literature. And, here was a top journal asking for something original.

 After some thought, I came up with four (4) unique attributes of connectivity. I tried to think of a fifth, because five (5) sounds like a better list, but I could only come up with four meaningful and universal attributes of connectivity, and here they are: 

Latent potentiality means we have lots of connections, but use them as we need them, bringing them from the background to the foreground.  Weak ties by definition are distant links that we reach out to as needed. 

Actor agency incorporates the structuration notion of choice or freedom to act as an individual within social structures (norms and expectations). Most of us can choose when, how and how much to connect with others, even though it may not always feel like a choice.

Temporal intermittency means connectivity comes and it goes.  Unlike a state of connectedness, which is always there, connectivity is seldom seamless.  Even if the technical connectivity is robust, we humans have to sleep and cannot be consciously connected all the time.

Unknowable pervasiveness reminds us that the extensiveness of networks now exceeds our ability to know who is connected to whom.  The very culture of sharing that ushered in the Internet is now one of its dark sides.

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