The most basic human network is a family with links to other families then to communities (clans) which link to other communities to form municipalities, cities and countries. Cities are expansions of these basic networks linked by an increasing complex of derivative nodes and networks. Links among individuals and groups involve telecommunications, roads, ships and aircraft all flowing through defined corridors organized and maintained as networks. Human have had an innate sense of networks and routinely establish formal organizations.
If you begin by examining the links among individuals you find a surprising complexity. Success depends on who you know more than what you know. When a society is described as traditional, social status and mobility are strictly linked to the status of your family and your mate. "Traditional" means the groups within the society are well defined and the boundaries that separate groups of different social status are well defended. Social privileges are linked to economic privileges so that wealth is distributed in traditional societies according to social status. Communities of humans divide themselves into classes with strict rules about who interacts with whom. Behavior protocols are well defined in terms of etiquette, privileges and duties.
Racial segregation and discrimination in the United State and South Africa have been well studied examples of intergroup boundaries and white oppression of blacks, but everywhere on planet earth there are small groups of privileged humans who maintain oppressive authority over everyone else. An obvious racial or ethnic boundary is not required. The worst expressions of high-status individuals oppressing low-status individuals can occur within relatively homogeneous groups of the same race, same ethnicity and same religion.
An ideal of civil states is to recognize the merit and ability of individuals and allow social mobility based on learning and achievement. American (self-made) heroes such as astronaut and Senator, John Glenn, advised young Americans that they can achieve anything they want; that intelligence, courage and determination can overcome all obstacles. While this is the aspiration of an egalitarian society, the reality is somewhat different. The growth of a middle class of "self-made" men and women has shaped free societies and a large, thriving and proactive middle class is essential for the survival of human rights. While there is an undeniable ethos of individual freedom in the best countries, human nature does not change. Group rules and boundaries remain in place. Instead of a rather simple traditional society with three class groups, we now have elaborately stratified societies with hierarchies built inside of hierarchies. The society is partitioned horizontally and vertically to keep incompatible groups separate.
Network topology refers to both to the physical and the functional arrangement of links, nodes and data flow. The mapping of some networks can be expressed graphically and in terms of geometrical shapes. Human networks can also be mapped and abstract topologies inferred or invented to account for human behavior. For example, Kearns et al carried out 81 experiments on biased voting in virtual networks involving 26 individuals. The participants were financially motivated to quickly reach consensus on one of two opposing choices. They stated:” Distributed collective decision-making processes must balance diverse individual preferences with a desire for collective unity. No payments were made unless participants reached a unanimous decision within 1 min, but different subjects were paid more for consensus to one choice or the other, and subjects could view only the current choices of their network neighbors, thus creating tensions between private incentives and preferences, global unity, and network structure. We found that there are well-studied network topologies in which the minority preference consistently wins globally; that the presence of “extremist” individuals, or the awareness of opposing incentives, reliably improve collective performance; and that characteristics of individual subjects, such as stubbornness, are strongly correlated with earnings. “
In the real world, enlarging organizations develop skewed and distorted networks that can produce dramatic failures. In all companies, divisions with divergent skills and knowledge must cooperate to achieve products that really work, are reliable and make money. There are many examples of communication and decision failures in companies large and small. Apple computer, for example, a model of product innovation and marketing success issued a new iPhone in 2010 with a defective antenna that caused dropped calls. A senior engineer had warned that the antenna design was flawed but his warnings were ignored: A comment from another engineer described the problem very well: “This is a trend in current businesses. The sales portion of the company literally runs the company and claims all the profits since they are the salesmen. Meanwhile the engineers have to deal with a minimal staff since they don't get much of the pie, and then have to design the unit around the unrealistic ideas of the sales staff, who generally fall out of touch with the customer as well at some point. Then the salesmen point to the engineers when it doesn't work the way they wanted, even when they were told it wouldn't work. Upper management usually sides with the sales side since they are the BS masters, and generally the upper management is just sales guys that got promoted for doing this exact same thing previously."
Tristan Reed wrote:” One task common to any intelligence organization is defining the human network of a state, criminal organization, militant movement or any other organization to better determine and understand a group's characteristics and abilities. A human network in this sense is a broad term used to describe the intricate web of relations existing in an organization and within a specific region. For anyone or any organization with interests in a given geographic area, understanding the networks of individuals with influence in the region is critical. People use human networks to organize the control of resources and geography. No person alone can control anything of significance. Presidents, drug lords and CEOs rely on people to execute their strategies and are constrained by the capabilities and interests of the people who work for them. Identifying these networks may be a daunting task depending on the network. For obvious reasons, criminal organizations and militant networks strive to keep their membership secret, and it is not always apparent who gives the orders and who carries out the orders in a political body.”