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'Networking'- Fashion Item or Human Web?

by Christine Fraser

We all do it, but why?

At its best 'networking', whether human or electronic, provides advice and support; shares information quickly on a self-selecting 'need-to-know' basis; offers a forum for problem solving; builds relationships; reveals new sources of inspiration, and establishes new business contacts.

Unlike organisational structures, networks make little demand on its members to attend things like AGMs, executive committee meetings and all those procedural activities which are in some ways tangential to the main purpose. One is free to take part in discussions and activities - or not. One can dip in and dip out without moral censure; one can network independently with other members without needing permission or being seen as subverting the 'cause'. One can freely contribute and freely take from the network. And that's it's strength.

Of course a 'network' itself cannot be hijacked for another purpose or cause because it belongs to all those in the network, in equal measure, and is therefore not up for grabs. Yet networks can network with networks - and so ad infinitum. In this way human networks mirror open electronic networks - become veritable Internets in their own right. No wonder the Internet both fascinates and feels familiar.

© Christine Fraser
Network 2000

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