What is network? According to Arsenault, she says that the networks could be summarized as the study of relationship., to be more specific, about who is associated with whom, why, and to what social effect. One of the simplest terms of network refers to a set of relationships between objects such as the nodes, and the meaning of the nodes should be contextualized depending on which network is analyzed. For example, the node could represent human beings if we are going to analyze the network of freshmen activity on American University campus.
As for the interpersonal network, China has a very long cultural tradition to initiate business by establishing personal attachment as a precondition. For example, in China, it is a custom for businessmen to build up interpersonal network with each other in order to create and maintain sound corporate alliances. In China, the network especially the interpersonal network could be very complicated as Castells (1996) indicates, “it is more generally more instructive to think of network as embedded within a network of networks rather than one or several networks. For example, person A , who wants to create an agricultural commodity exports company in China. But he/she is new to this business sector, but one of his friends, namely as B, might know someone called C, who is doing this business. So person A can refer person C build up a relationship mediated by person B. We can say A and B has an interpersonal network, while B and C also has another interpersonal network. B could serve as both nodes and also linkage which ties A and C.
Castells says that we are living in the network society, which means technological network has facilitated our social network in several ways. The network society is transforming our way of thinking of time. From his point of view, time could be “timeless time”, which means people across countries, who are in different time zone, could work virtually in real time. Just imagine back in the medieval time, human activity is based on their local clock. Get up at 6 A.M, having breakfast at 7:00 A.M. But in the network society, people who wake up at 6 A.M. in China knows Americans are going to have their dinner, which is 6 P.M at Eastern Time.
Like Arsenault, says that since the birth of World Wide Web in 1994, our social network is strongly influenced by technological network. Just imagine in some bottom developing countries, the nation states are still trying to enlarge their capacity to build up the physical infrastructure such as road, railways to make people can physically communicate with each other. In developed countries, the nation states are trying to propagate their cyber infrastructure building to make people’s life better off. The broad bandwidth, the wireless, the apps application to make everyone has the equal chance to have information.
Take myself as an example, who was born in the late 1980s, definitely is called “net citizen”. So my peers might rely on computer so much. We use Skype to talk with our friends, we use Facebook to share our photos, and keep in touch with friends. Just like Arsenault says “Humans rely upon technology in much the same way that they rely upon other humans. Your computer may crash or your lover may leave you— both occurrences may have broader effects on the networks within which you might be embedded”. So I joke with my friends that “My computer is my lover, without him, I feel life is so empty and meaningless.”