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What is the difference between a field, a discipline, and a network?
Physics is an intellectual tradition--a set of relationships. It has
temporal depth, but that is of course nothing new. There are norms embedded
in institutions for publishing styles, intellectual discourse, and means of
establishing what is interesting and of worth. The same is true for
networks. The dimensions and meanings of relationships are variables. Is
transmitting a virus any different than transmitting an idea to graduate
Another time this discussion was strong in intellectual history is when
gestalt psychologists started to use the ideas of late 19th century physics
in their labs and writings. There is even evidence of some real flow in the
other direction as well--from psychology to physics. Kurt Lewin, the
German-born social psychologist who ended his career at MIT, was a broker
node between physics, gestalt, social psychology, and organizational fields.
He was writing on Topological Psychology in the 1920s--and was researching
it prior to WW1. His work on force fields and relationships is still worth
reading. People decouple from networks to build their identities. That is
at least the beginnings of an explanation why things seem to happen at the
edges and boundaries.
> I'm convinced that a lot of innovative ideas emerge at the borderline
> between fields.
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