- The Loom
Facebook Is Not A Brain, And Other Failed Metaphors
It sounds cool to say maybe the Internet has turned us all into one giant superorganism, as Robert Wright does today in the Opinionator blog at the New York Times. But before we bandy about cool-sounding words, it’s necessary to think hard about what they mean–particularly, what they mean to the biologists who first developed them as concepts.
The word superorganism can describe an ant colony or any other society of animals in which the individuals function like cells in a body. They come in extremely specialized types (workers and queens and other castes for ants; liver cells, neurons, and other cell types for our bodies). They coordinate their specialized functions with communication (alarm pheromones in ants; hormones, cytokines, and