ATENÇÃO: NÃO É PARA DISCUTIR E SIM PARA TRADUZIR. MENCIONE O PEDAÇO (OU OS PEDAÇOS) QUE VOCÊ TRADUZIU E PUBLIQUE A TRADUÇÃO NO CAMPO DE COMENTÁRIOS.
We all need to better understand networks. Their importance is growing as a form of organization whose efficiency has been enhanced by information technology. The body of knowledge that deals with them has mushroomed in the last ten years or so. The internet – network of networks – is now a significant part of the life of hundreds of millions of people. The metaphor is part of our everyday vocabulary. And still, it is used in so many cases, to describe, refer or allude to so many situations that its "polysemy," as Michel Callon puts it, can be easily confusing. Networks and complexity have so many things in common that we tend to let specialists deal with the issue, understand it, analyze it, use it.
This is wrong. Networks should not be the sole territory of brainy scientists. We should all learn about them, take advantage of the available knowledge about what they are, where they appear and how they operate.
Manuel Castells’ trilogy on "The Information Age" has played a major role in this rising awareness. The fruit of decades of research is presented in such an accessible form that laymen and women can find there most of what they need to understand about the network society. But once you become aware of networks, you find them in a lot of other places, at other levels. The meme viral effect is contagious. You want to know more.
That's what brought me to Fritjof Capra's work on the subject. Manuel Castells said I should pursue my quest to better understand networks in reading “The Web of Life and The Hidden Connections.” That's how I learned Capra lives in Berkeley, very close to me. We even shop in the same supermarket. It was a wonderful adventure to find again the author of the fascinating Tao of Physics. That's how I read the books, which show the importance of networks at the biological, cognitive, and social levels of life.
How not to be impressed by what he calls in the first sentence of his first answer to this interview "a unified scientific view of life" based on our knowledge of evolution. "In my view," he says, "there is a unifying set of patterns of organization that goes through all life, at all levels and in all its manifestations."
Isn't that a worrisome open door to another unified theory of everything or the outline of one?
This is exactly what I had in mind when we started the interview. And Capra's answer came flat: "There is a fundamental error in this view. Even though there is a unified basic pattern of life, and we can be more precise and say that this pattern is a network pattern, these networks are not structures – at least most of them – they are functional networks." The term can be used as a metaphor, it is not as a paradigm.
Recognizing the specificity of each "level" he explains what distinguishes them. At the social level, in particular, he clarifies the importance of meaning, values and power (and therefore conflicts), key elements in extending his approach to societies. This, he says, is the product of his many discussions with Castells, and a bridge between the two bodies of work. Interestingly enough, Capra then moves a step further than in his books when he states that "The core of my social agenda is sustainability."
In this conversation, Fritjof Capra, while staying totally coherent with the scientific studies on which he bases his works, transmits many of the core elements of his thinking about networks in terms that the lay audience can understand easily.
The interviews were conducted and recorded at my home. Fritjof was kind enough to revise the text twice, just after we spoke, in 2003, and in October before the publication in the IJoC.