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Invisible Networks as Secret Superstars

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Throughout history, human society has differentiated itself from others and has survived all kinds of transitions, and disruptions etc. because of a simple strategy called a ‘network’. The network that we are talking about is not only a form of connectedness but a way to create a relationship on the primordial notion of an ‘exchange’ based social system for constructing new ‘consumption practices’.

Media as a platform has always been credited with creating these kind of networks on the basis of social ties. It would not be an exaggeration to say that media has also helped all networked individuals in taking decisions on the basis of ‘networked consciousness and exchanges’. Since the days of the newspaper, all media platforms have contributed to creating a unique web of social networks. Along with all other activities, these networks have played a pivotal role in a post-industrialised society not only in selling mass produced products but also in creating the required needs for those products. Though it is an age old practice but the nature of the media platform drastically impacts the unique nature of the social network, which is primarily defined by the attributes of the platform, the connectedness of the platform and technology.

While the print network has drastically changed because of the audio-visual, the most talked about disruptor of facilitator ‘the digital’ platform has created networks by redefining the existing boundaries (physical, social and personal). Unlike, all previous networks created by exiting media platforms, the networks created by digital platforms are more intimate, hyper-personalised and accommodate all social, physical and individual needs by not only connecting individuals but also creating a sense of empowerment between the ‘individual consciousness and collective unconscious’. The hyper personalised network, and the exchange between ‘individual consciousness and collective unconsciousness’ offers meaning to all kinds of exchanges within and outside the network.

Knowingly and unknowingly everybody has become networked in a very personalised manner, which has the power to influence every person consuming the product, service or piece of knowledge both implicitly and explicitly. These invisibly connected networks are creating a sense of ownership within the community and are also relevant and reliable at the same time. The informal or invisible network that has been created through the ‘digital platform’ is immediately becoming ‘my network’ over all other existing networks. In this ‘my network’, selling a ‘product’ or ‘piece of knowledge’ is almost like exchanging information within close communities like ‘tribes’ where connectedness is always taken for granted. It also depends upon us how wisely we are using the network to get the best out of it because like the close family or tribe, the network can garner unconditional trust at the same time create a situation where trust can be lost.

Santosh K. Patra, PhD, is presently working as an associate professor and the domain head of media and entertainment management at IMT, Ghaziabad. His major work is in the areas of digital sociology, media and entertainment management, political economy of the media space and public policy. Prior to IMTG, he was working with MICA, Ahmedabad and was heading the Media and Entertainment Management area.

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