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People, brains and life itself: all work best when embedded in networks

During my middle twenties I spent five fantastic years immersed in the beguiling depths of Connectionism (or, the study and research of artificial neural networks), first as a PhD student at the Connection Science Laboratory of the Computer Science Department of Exeter University, and subsequently as a post-doctoral researcher at the Computer Science Department of the University of Sheffield.

In Connectionism, the network is everything.

Subsequent to my academic researches, I spent four years writing novels, and along the way discovered the trans-disciplinary ideas of visionary systems thinkers like Fritjof Capra, Richard Feynman, James Lovelock, Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins. I felt like I had gone back to school, at the same time as feeling an old companion somehow transmogrified: the network, now in a while range of new guises, underpinning a swathe of new and exciting models.

In systems thinking, the network is also everything.

Subsequent to my efforts as a novelist, I entered my current home: the commercial world of business, client and supplier, services, brand, technology and design. I learned quickly in a number of different roles from a number of people all brilliant in their own way and found opportunities to exapt old skills to a new and, at the time, unfamiliar world.

And what was the most important thing that I learned - slowly and in some cases painfully? That, in commercial life, process, offering, expertise and price are all important, but that relationships are key, and that people still buy people.

Or in other words, that the network is everything.

Full circle. It doesn’t matter where I go, or how apparently disparate my occupations, I find the beguilingly simple notion of the network again and again, central to so much human endeavour and practise.

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