Words-worth - Network

Real networks (of computers, phones or people) can and will go wrong, but the word itself won't let you down. It stands for everything today's management aspires to: it's as light as a feather but as strong as a hawser; it holds things together but lets them move; it expands, it shrinks, painlessly.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Comforting in hard times, cool when the heat is on, the network is the string vest of modern business. It is a metaphor, of course. A real network is something made like a net - a mesh of rope or string for catching things. 'Net' goes back into the depths of the Indo-European languages but 'network' occurred first in English in Tyndale's Bible of 1526, where it describes a brass lattice. Later, it referred to natural structures that looked like nets, then to things linked in the same way: blood vessels, processes, relationships, radio stations. The verb 'to network' is a product of US feminism, which taught businesswomen to network to sidestep existing male networks. Don't worry if your network is full of holes. It's meant to be.

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