May 3, 2005

Links, Ecology, Individuality

Interesting discussion continues on the subject of how links for weblogs (see Blog and Identity for the backstory)

Even if I study just the grasshopper I’m doing a serious act of reductive science if I think I can ‘understand’ the grasshopper by ignoring where it lives, the systems it participates in and which define it.

Links are these relations.

I agree that treating the blogosphere as an ecology makes excellent sense both politically and analytically. But I also think it's important to accept that we can study the grasshopper in isolation. We do it all the time; often, it's the only way to get a handle on the parts of complex systems. Find a component that you can study, roughly, in isolation, and accept that you're missing the interactions. Know that you're not getting the whole picture (assume a spherical chicken), but use approximations to avoid mere paralysis.