The Network Is More Than The Computer

by Wayne Willis on April 26, 2010

John Gage from Sun Microsystems made famous the claim that "the network is the computer" --  which was a revolutionary insight in the 80s.  But now that claim is both obvious and inadequate, because "the network" is much, much more than just the computer and its connections with telecommunications networks.   "The network" has expanded to include, beyond the terminals and the links,  the people, services, relationships,  transactions and even some of the meanings of daily life.

The first decade of the 21st Century has laid the foundation for an incredible future which will be kind to those who recognize the opportunities being created by our increasingly networked world.  Nodal Partners are actively working in this world.   They know that the  restructuring of the economy and virtually all of business and social life -- especially including the relationships, communications and transactions that create value in this new economy -- increasingly depends on networks.

We think of "networks" as broadly defined to include:

  • the telecommunications networks -- specifically, the internet and the public telephone network;
  • the "web services" -- be they low-level (e.g., message queuing) or higher-level (e.g., credit card clearing);
  • the "social graph" -- the network of current relationships and transactions among people or organizations;
  • the "resource network" -- the rich relationships with extremely talented people we have come to know;
  • the "disaggregated enterprise" -- where non-core elements of creating value for customers have been spun out into a network of "interconnected modules loosely coupled" through supply chains or APIs;
  • the "neural network" -- meaning a dynamic system of feedback-based learning;

More and more of business and social life can be modeled and understood as interactions of nodes and links in a vast, ordered array of relationships, all organized into meaningful and valuable networks.  As Nodal Partners, we seek to understand how these rapidly approaching changes are going to influence life in this century, and we seek to position our friends and business associates to benefit from those coming changes.

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