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New Media, Communication, and Society

A Fast, Straightforward Examination of Key Topics

Mary Ann Allison and Cheryl A. Casey

New Media, Communication, and Society is a fast, straightforward examination of key topics which will be useful and engaging for both students and professors. It connects students to wide-ranging resources and challenges them to develop their own opinions. Moreover, it encourages students to develop media literacy so they can speak up and  make a difference in the world. Short chapters with lots of illustrations encourage reading and provide a springboard for conversation inside and outside of the classroom. Wide-ranging topics spark interest. Chapters include suggestions for additional exploration, a media literacy exercise, and a point that is just for fun. Every chapter includes thought leaders, ranging from leading researchers to business leaders to entrepreneurs, from Socrates to Doug Rushkoff and Lance Strate to Bill Gates.

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5 Network Structure (Cheryl A. Casey)

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CHAPTER 5

Network Structure

Cheryl A. Casey

Not just an Internet thing

The whole point of a network is to facilitate communication. As such, human social networks go back further than the origins of the Internet. Human social networks began with the origins of speech. Our human world has always been dominated by networks.

Imagine you are a villager in the countryside of medieval France, before the printing press. Most villagers are illiterate, but certainly not living in a vacuum. Villagers across medieval Europe are tied by the circulation of news and information (much of it pure gossip) delivered by the oral communication networks of the time.

These four networks were: the Catholic Church, political authorities, merchants, and traveling entertainers. Using the pulpit, the Vatican was able to maintain contact with the geographically dispersed community of Christian followers. States and principalities maintained ties of communication for the purposes of diplomacy, administration, and general order. As trade and manufacturing increased across larger areas, merchants and banks developed extensive systems of communication to keep everything straight. Finally, since your average villager didn’t usually travel far along the dangerous, poorly mapped wooded roads, entertainers and storytellers relayed news to each town they visited.

Each of these networks had its own kind of value according to its participants’ interests, affiliations, and transactions. What these networks have in common is the characteristic of point-to-point communication (see Figure 5.1)...

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