October 2006

Networks

October 29, 2006

The word “network” is used in different contexts in different domains.

In the engineering and technological context, it is used to denote a set of equipment interconnected to deliver a particular functionality. It used in a social context to denote a group of people that collaborate to address shared concerns. Or in neurophenomenology, to denote patterns of neural activity that correlate with specific behaviors.

In all these cases, networks distinguish a unity constituted by a set of interrelated components. However, the disciplines and practices required to design, develop or operate in each of these classes of networks are very different. Very often, especially in a business context, disciplines and practices relevant to a specific class of networks are used to think and act in another type of network, producing significant miscoordination and waste.

Services as Tangible Capacities

Let's explore the following thread. Services are not vague, intangible, or subjective. Services seem intangible because of our lack of adequate distinctions to make them intelligible and designable.

Let's start with the following distinction: Services are a specific capacity for action that is specified in a contractual exchange and transferred to a particular customer. The tangibility of a particular service rests in the timely capacities that it delivers to a particular customer.

Information Services such as Reuters offer assertions of events, which expand the capacities of their customer to make interpretations of opportunities or assessments of risks. Educational Services, such as UC Berkeley, promise that after a training period, their students will be able to make and fulfill new valuable promises. Financial Services, such as Intelligent Finance, promise to reorganize the temporal structure of financial obligations and assets of their customer, so they can participate in future exchanges. Auction Services, such as eBay, promise to display your offers, support your transactions, and create performance records to allow risk assessments and reputation building among buyers and sellers. In order to deliver competitive services, the crucial capacity is the understanding of networked customer's identities, and the development of networks of production and delivery.

Technology in Service Growth

October 19, 2006

During the last thirty years, services have been continuously increasing their share of the world's GDP. At the beginning of the seventies, services accounted for 53% of the global output. Today, services exceed 70% of the global output (World Bank 2004). Many IT innovations have modified the business landscape to propel this explosion of services.

The PC emerged in the late seventies; LAN appeared in the eighties; the Internet erupted with formidable force in the nineties; and we have the collaborative Open Source practices of software development not only running the vast majority of the Internet servers and key applications in the Corporate world, but also influencing the style in which people work together in any sphere of activity.

Technology that expands the capacity of Networking in Networked Networks (NNN) is at the essence of the Service explosive growth.

In the middle of all these changing trends, there are two important issues to notice. First, we do not have an understanding of service beyond the traditional economic theory that articulates it as the “intangible benefit.” Second, notions such as networking, networks, and networked are articulated in multiple ways and in general, in a vague and metaphorical fashion.