Network Society course (IV). Santiago Ortiz: Organizations in the Network Society (II)

By Ismael Peña-López
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #61, October 2008


Notes from the course Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens, Barcelona, 15-17 October, 2008.

Organizations in the Network Society (II)
Santiago Ortiz, Bestiario

To think of the enterprise as a network, as we can think of this course as a network: Visualization tool of the course Network Society

The reality is composed by networks, networks that can understood through the approach of complexity or complex systems. And the definition of the individual, and even the way it learns (Maturana & Valera), can be explained in relationship with the exterior, with the environment, and its relationships.

In this train of though, ICTs can help map and visualize the relationships that are weaved among individuals and organizations, how they get and diffuse knowledge. This can indeed help to build confidence: confidence is based on visibility, thus digital presence enhances confidence by increasing visibility.


Many concepts of the complex theory can be applied to enterprises: pattern transmission, movement or changes that emerge from simple rules [see more info: Johnson], etc. E.g., the football club: the players change, the coach changes, the followers change… and nevertheless the club remains “the same”.

Fractals are another way of looking at it: simple structures, combined with exponential repetitions and successions, conform new approaches, constructions, relationships that do take place in reality.

Complexity provides us with tools and a language to approach nowadays (ICT mediated) relationships so that we can understand them, measure them, replicate them. Every so often, people feed the Internet not with content, but with applications, which is another way of saying that they feed the Internet with dynamic ideas.

Visibility, transparency of relationships

They Rule, Hans Rosling: Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you’ve ever seen.

Patterns of emergence: movement, attractors… They create and destroy networks: in the human or animal realms (birds flock 3D).

Share of the radio spectrum, City Distances. Sometimes (Spisi) the results are non-conclusive: we can represent the information but no pattern and/or causability seems to arise.

The notion of collective intelligence, of a sort of “exo-brain”, where relationships are most important in the learning and storing of knowledge (Metaplexity).

And education itself can be understood too as a challenge to represent — and transmit — complex information. For instance, Mitozoos is a simulation game about genetics, where a genome determines a phenotype, and this phenotype the relationships amongst individuals, their ability to survive or endure, etc.

Archivo de la Junta para Ampliación de Estudios e Investigaciones Científicas (1907-1939) to analyse grants to scientists to do research abroad, relating people, years, disciplines and geography.


Felipe González Gil: isn’t this the hegemony of the visual? Is it sustainable, due to the effort needed? Is there room for sound? A: we overestimate the real cost/effort of viewing a network. So, it is no hegemony (in a pejorative sense), as it is not elitist; and it is sustainable, just for the same reasons of low cost/effort. Sound has not been analyzed or worked with in depth, and it is true that present tools do not offer much flexibility to experiment with sound and, thus, combine visualizations with sounds.

Personal reflections

The most interesting part of Santiago Ortiz’s speech is the subversion of hypertext: in hypertext, the text is the core, the conceptual unit, and the link or hyperlink a means to relate two different texts (and through several links, to create a network).

In Ortiz’s approach, the core, the conceptual unit, is the link itself. It is the relationships that matter. And they do not matter because they explain how two different things are related, but as an explanatory construct in itself: it is the network that speaks, not the nodes it is made of; it is e.g. how texts are related one to each other that tells us things, not what the texts themselves say.

To do list: try 6pli.

More info

Juan Freire La empresa como interfaz

Juan Freire De la superficie a la interfaz: de la superficialidad a la complejidad

Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens (2008)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2008) “Network Society course (IV). Santiago Ortiz: Organizations in the Network Society (II)” In ICTlogy, #61, October 2008. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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