Network Growth Programming

Physical Social Network Programming

I have been continuing to research how physical social networks (made with people and strings) can be grown. In addition of the 7 basic network topologies – which I consider now as only a subset on network growth “instruction”- I listed 4 larger ensembles :

  • Behavioural Programming: Guiding people to form 1) Line, 2) Mesh, 3) Fully connected, 4) form groups.
  • Visual Programming: Asking a group of connected individuals to conform to prescribed geometrical figures.
  • Numerical Programming: Giving each single individual a set of simple instructions to apply regardless of other dynamics, and let these “naturally” interact.
  • Entropy: After having conducted these previous experiments, giving participants the instruction to do whatever they want with the string.

I have also updated the instruction set of instructions for the “Behavioural programming” here :


Warm up
Walk random patterns eyes open
Run random patterns with eyes open
Walk random patterns eyes closed
Run random patterns with eyes closed
Stand up still eyes open, look at others
Stand up still eyes closed, feel others
Stand up still eyes open, stand up on one leg
Stand up on one leg, close one eye. Close the second eye.
Spin in one direction until you get dizzy.
Spin the other direction until you cancel the dizziness.
Stand up still eyes open, look at others
Stand up still eyes closed, feel others

Linear Network (Line)
_ I pull one line and connect everybody.
Walk random patterns eyes closed
Run random patterns with eyes closed
Stand up still eyes closed, feel others
Stand up still eyes open, look at others

Mesh Network (Mesh)
_ I cut the line, disconnecting some, reconnecting others in a mesh.
Walk random patterns eyes closed
Run random patterns with eyes closed
Stand up still eyes closed, feel others
Stand up still eyes open, look at others

Fully Connected Network (Fully Connected)
_ I each and everyone.
Walk random patterns eyes closed
Run random patterns with eyes closed
Stand up still eyes closed, feel others
Stand up still eyes open, look at others

Community building (Segregation)
How do you feel?
We went through 3 different types of network topologies :
1) a line network
2) a mesh network
3) a fully connected network
Which one did you prefer / dislike? Why?
What defines a community? Why?
Now I will get back to giving a few more instructions.
_ Pause.
Stand up still eyes closed, feel others
Feel others with the strings.
Which strings do you like most? Which string would you rather drop.
Keep the strings you like, drop the strings you don’t feel comfortable holding.
Eyes closed, keep holding the strings, but now move freely, wherever you want to go.
When you feel you are in the right place, stop. Take your time.
When I will see more than half of you standing still, this will be the end of this part of the experiment.
_ Pause.
How do you feel?
What did you learn?
What did we learn as a group?
How could push this experiment further?


I will continue this research further later – that was just a research note – and a cool poster coming out of it :) Original files here (.ai .pdf .jpg). Do you know of any interesting references / books / pdfs about network growth / evolution / topologies? Thanks!

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