The Power of Networks: Connecting Heroes and Innovators

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Glasp

Jul 26, 20234 min read

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The Power of Networks: Connecting Heroes and Innovators

In the world of storytelling, there are tales that captivate our imagination and leave a lasting impact. One such story is that of "鬼滅の刃" or "Demon Slayer." This popular Japanese manga series follows the journey of Tanjiro Kamado, a young protagonist who defies traditional hero archetypes. While exploring the themes of contrasts and balancing forces, "鬼滅の刃" reflects the dynamics of our networked society.

At its core, "鬼滅の刃" is a story of contrasts. It revolves around the relentless demons who take everything from their victims and the protagonist, Tanjiro Kamado, who gives everything to protect others. In the context of our networked society, I believe this manga represents the narrative of a Giver. In the final arc of the series, we witness a battle between the network of Givers centered around Tanjiro and the network of Takers centered around the antagonist, Muzan Kibutsuji.

This brings us to the question of how this tale aligns with the demands of our networked society. In the current era, we require a mindset that adapts to the dynamics of networks, and I hypothesize that Tanjiro's character embodies such a model. What sets this story apart is the collaborative nature of problem-solving, where multiple strong individuals work together without the constraints of hierarchy.

However, our networked society is not without its flaws. The echo chamber effect within networks, amplifying narrow opinions, can lead to the emergence of Taker-like behavior akin to a black hole. To determine whether this is a positive or negative phenomenon, we should evaluate the essence of behavior beyond the network's claims. The modern age has seen a shift from the pursuit of strength to a focus on equality, vulnerability, and theories of victimhood. Unfortunately, this has also led to a culture where individuals use these theories as a weapon to attack others. The problem lies not in the claim itself but in how power is wielded.

Tanjiro's character represents a departure from the simplistic reactive models that attribute behavior to external circumstances. Instead, he exemplifies the belief that individuals possess the power of choice, regardless of external events. Strength alone does not guarantee solutions; rather, it is the thoughtful exercise of power that merits consideration.

In a networked society, our capacity to maintain meaningful relationships is limited by what anthropologist Robin Dunbar refers to as the "Dunbar number." It suggests that we can naturally form relationships with approximately 150 people. However, the power of networks extends beyond this limitation. Through the lens of history, we can observe how the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) harnessed the potential of networks to revolutionize communication.

AT&T, known as Ma Bell, traces its origins back to Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone in the late 19th century. Over time, it evolved into a brand that reshaped the telecommunications landscape. In 1899, American Telephone became the holding company of the Bell system, establishing the foundation for the network of communication.

Within this network, Bell Labs emerged as a beacon of innovation. Recognized as the world's most pioneering scientific organization for much of the 20th century, Bell Labs introduced groundbreaking inventions. The most notable among them is the transistor, invented in 1947, which serves as the fundamental building block for all digital products.

As we connect the threads of these narratives, we find commonalities. Both "鬼滅の刃" and the story of AT&T emphasize the power of networks in shaping our world. They highlight the significance of collaboration, innovation, and the responsible use of power within these networks. Drawing from these insights, here are three actionable pieces of advice for thriving in our networked society:

  • 1. Foster a collaborative mindset: Embrace the idea that working together with others, regardless of traditional hierarchies, can lead to more effective problem-solving and innovation.
  • 2. Emphasize responsible power dynamics: Recognize that strength alone is not enough; consider how power is exercised and the impact it has on others within the network.
  • 3. Expand your network intentionally: While the Dunbar number suggests limitations in the number of relationships we can naturally maintain, actively seek to diversify and expand your network to tap into the collective wisdom and resources available.

In conclusion, the stories of "鬼滅の刃" and AT&T's history exemplify the potential and challenges of our networked society. By embracing a collaborative mindset, understanding the responsible use of power, and intentionally expanding our networks, we can navigate this interconnected world with grace and make meaningful contributions. As we continue to evolve within this networked landscape, let us remember the transformative power that lies in our connectivity.

Resource:

  1. "鬼滅の刃とはなんなのか?ネットワーク社会での英雄譚|かえるD|note", https://note.com/kaerusanu/n/n814bf9c30c7c (Glasp)
  2. "AT&T’s History of Invention and Breakups (Published 2016)", https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/02/12/technology/att-history.html (Glasp)

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