a child's definition of a net: "a lot of holes tied together with string"
Stuart Kaufman has described the formation of networks as a phase transition that occurs as the number of connections is increased between a random graph of points. As a general feature, when the number of connections reaches half of the number of points, the majority of the points become linked in a giant cluster. Kauffman believes that we should think of the genetic program not as a serial algorithm but as a parallel distributed regulatory network .
As a general model, the network applies not only to the "intertwingled" pieces of text in a hypertext but also to the linked computers in a connected system such as Internet, to pattern-recognition systems such as the immune system, or to organisms such as the slime mold, that are made up of individual cells responding to gradients and forming larger and more differentiated entities. The ability of the brain to synchronize and coordinate activities in different parts, called reentry, is another networked process. Theorists of complexity describe the behaviour of such systems as emergent.
Problems are assumed to become intractable when they become tangled, yet models of rhizomes and networks that value links are a kind of countermodel.
At the end of the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin describes life as a "tangled bank,"
an image of grasses and flower and bees and butterflies growing in tangled profusion without any discernable pattern, acheiving homeostasis by means of a web of interdependence too complicated for us to unravel.
The network is the rhizomatic figure par excellence. It is "postpersonal", allowing for a web of connections to be drawn, not only in terms of the author's "intentions" and the reader's "reception," but rather in a much wider, more complicated set of possible interconnections that blur established, that is to say hegemonic, distinctions of class, race, sexual practice, and so on. Kevin Kelly describes the "hive mind"as a distributed system of awareness. For him, "a distributed, decentralized network is more a process than a thing."
Geodetic structures (derived from the term geodesis, the imaginary geographical lines following the curvature of the earth along straight paths) have a high degree of structural redundancy, so that if some portion of the structure is lost, the stresses are simply rerouted to the remaining members. In this they resemble networks. (see Reiser + Umemoto, Assemblage 26)