How many...[Texto disponible solo en inglés] There are many networks that make up the contemporary world: biological, neural, electrical, railways, television, mathematical, data transmission... But the Net par excellence today is the Internet. And if you say network, everyone will add social and virtual communities will immediately come to mind. But they existed long before Facebook, Twitter and friends: a social network is infact a group of people connected by several bonds, ranging from friendship to casual acquaintances, from family ties to job relationships, to contact (sporadic or on a regular basis) with “friends” or “followers” on the Internet.
How many people make a network? The english anthropologist Robin Dunbar says at most one hundred and fifty: within this amount everyone knows each other in person, even if only by sight and occasional exchanges. But on the Internet, nets can be much more crowded: thousands of contacts, even tens and hundreds of thousands of contacts for celebrities. Are these still networks? From a scientific point of view, yes. But what about from the ‘human’ point of view? It is fundamental to be careful.
The threshold of one hundred and fifty becomes a thousand for Kevin Kelly, the famous scholar of digital culture, cofounder of Wired. After a thousand of contacts
it becomes a crowd: a chaotic group of people who lose sight of onetoone relationships, which are essential for the proper function of a community. This is the point: in a network the closest relationships count, caring for others counts, putting others before yourself counts. On the net you should always ask yourself: is what I’m saying and doing useful and interesting to someone else? Not for me: for the others.
This is what gives rise to a network, what makes it grow, strong and durable, because if everything starts from the same question, then the exchange is mutual. But this is something that not many seem to understand in these times of uncontrolled individualism, especially in Italy, country of steeples. Yet it would be easy: friendships are to be looked after, they say, which counts on the network as in real life. Idealism? No, survival. If you don’t look after relationships, the network dies. Primitive economy of giving? No, advanced business: it is thanks to the offer of free services that Google and Facebook have become the giants they are. And it’s on the same basis that today anyone with an idea, be it big or small, can give birth to first a community, and then a job, a company, a political and social change, a futuristic project. If you know the network, you can.