This is a software concept – but it can be applied in many places and in many ways.
I do wish you knew more about software – the stuff that now runs the world – but will see if I can explain it anyway.
The first concept, one that we all have a vague understanding off – is a System. Some kind of big thing where things inside the system relate to each other easily – but not so easily to things outside the system. This definition is so full of holes (what do I mean by a thing, for example) you could run a truck through them. You either grasp it intuitively – or you don’t. I assume you do.
Now for the next step – loosely-coupled systems. You really need to work with some of these, to understand them. And for me, the Raspberry Pi is doing this. The Raspberry is one system (with a Linux operating system) and my computer (with a Windows operating system) is another.
But they can work together by sending messages to each other. As any object can do in an object-oriented network. Each object can understand certain messages – and can do what that message asks it to do.
If this cannot happen (for a variety of reasons) the network breaks down – it crashes!
And this is happening in many ways and in many places. Our world (which is more fragile than we thought) is not working.
We can now look at our world in a new way – as a network populated by objects. We now have to define what these objects are, and how they communicate.
This will not be easy – in fact it makes our task of understanding the world harder. But this model of the world is closer to the way it really is.
Philosophically, it is Ontology – the way things are, or are not.