Recognizing the network

I have complained several times about signposting on bikeways (“Navigation problems, on websites and bikeways”, 2005, and “More narrow contexts”, 2006), so it is only fair to report that much has improved here in the last few years.

Very many signposts at bikeway crossroad now indicate the place names of the destination towns or villages. This might sound trivial, but it is not. Previously, the predominant captions were the numbers or logos of roundtrip or other touristically interesting routes. Now the majority of crossroad signs tell us how to reach the next node in the network. Finally, the network of bikeways is recognized as a network, not just as a overlay of circles, stars and snakes.

I think it is interesting to observe that a network is not a network from the beginning. Although the network topoplogy may appear as the most natural structure imaginable, real notworks may not always be perceived as such. From my past background in network intrastructure, I could tell many stories about the various topologies, mainly hierarchical trees, and the problems we had with the labelling tags when the first busses and rings arrived. (And the precursor of the internet in Germany, the EARN, was basically a large snake where the whole south to north traffic passed our node at 4.800 bit/s …)

But certainly, the problem also applies to conceptual networks, where many people have the hierarchical structure deeply engrained.

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