Wrapping My Head Around Graphs and Networks and Stories

On GraphsI am reading and re-reading Stephen Downes’ piece on graphs for the EL30 (E-Learning 3.0) course, pondering the ways he thinks about the representation of social networks, stories and more. I am not even sure I follow it all. I’m fine with that, for it has me thinking in differen directions.

On GraphsWhat I am wondering about is how to re-envision graphs as something more than story, more than just a visualization of information, more than a way to read the world. Stephen asserts that the power of the graph is in its connector points, that the overall structure of a graph system — the way a graphing structure can underline a more powerful network — is more reliable than the narrative. Whether this is story or not, I don’t know. As a writer, I default to thinking of this in relationship to story. Stephen may not be doing that at all. He may be thinking more technical, more about network design and community interactions.

He explains:

The terms ‘graph’ and ‘network’, for example, essentially refer to the same thing, but with a difference in emphasis. I tend to use the word ‘graph’ when thinking of the formal properties of a network, and ‘network’ when thinking of the physical properties of a graph. – Stephen Downes

During the week, he asked us all to do a graph of some sort. I made this one, about when I spend my time thinking about the concepts of EL30. It is completely unreliable.

el30 graph

All this connects to what Stephen points to as Web3, the idea of where the Web structures might head to, as part of a more decentralized organization of social connections. Pondering the potential of where we are going, as opposed to becoming bogged down on what hasn’t worked for us in the past is beneficial.

As an aside, I gathered a graph shared by another EL30 participant — Matthias — and tried to remix it a bit, showing how I was reading his nodes, landing on the connector point of Conversations.


Peace (here, there, everywhere),



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