I had this half-asleep epiphany during a long-haul flight and love this analogy: I might get my physics all wrong, but physicists speak of space-time as being a layer or a grid. Stephen Hawking calls it the fabric of space. He says that what we experience as gravity is caused by the dip in this invisible layer that is caused, for example, by a planet, the size and mass of which determine the pull of gravity. According to Roger Penrose, the point of pure gravity at the center of a black hole is a singularity, a place that according to Hawking can under certain circumstances (if reversed) serve as a birthplace of something new, causing a big bang. Knowing that I simplify, I’d still like to propose a similarity to the web.
If we assume that the www is the space-time grid, then certain services, nodes, or memes stand for planets, the bigger they are, the greater their mass and pull. In social sciences this logic aligns with Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann’s mass communication theory. Her notion of the Schweigespirale (spiral of silence) describes how one opinion becomes dominant because those who oppose but feel they are in the minority will remain silent. Noelle-Neumann sees a fear of isolation from society as the main factor for this behavior. So, if we assume that mass – in whichever form – has gravitational pull, it’s easy to assign Google or facebook dominance in the grid. To stretch the analogy even further: exorbitant pull results in a singularity, which can be destructive in a way that this singularity swallows its surrounding into a black hole. However, at the same time, according to Hawking’s theory, it can also serve as a birthplace of a new galaxy. In the web’s case this could be a new practice as in the case of Google, a new way to access knowledge; or in the case of facebook, new ways to interact and voice opinions.
Jean-Luc Lehner’s argument of multiple big bangs and multiverses is equally easy to transfer to the web. We’re all just particles.
….madness. Are there people researching those patterns comparatively?