We present the continuous-time evolution of an online organism network from birth to death which crosses all organizational and temporal scales, from individual components through to the mesoscopic and entire system scale. These continuous-time data reveal a lifespan driven by punctuated, real-time co-evolution of the structural and functional networks. Aging sees these structural and functional networks gradually diverge in terms of their small-worldness and eventually their connectivity. Dying emerges as an extended process associated with the formation of large but disjoint functional sub-networks together with an increasingly detached core. Our mathematical model quantifies the very different impacts that interventions will have on the overall lifetime, period of initial growth, peak of potency, and duration of old age, depending on when and how they are administered. In addition to their direct relevance to online extremism, our findings may offer insight into aging in other network systems of comparable complexity for which extensive in vivo data is not yet available.
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