Monday, January 31, 2005

A Quick Report on "Linked – How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else . . ."

Two weeks ago I shared my reaction to Duncan Watts’ book, Six Degrees. I have just finished reading what I consider to be a companion piece. Dr. Albert-Laszlo Barabasi is the Emil T. Hofman Professor of Physics at the University of Notre Dame. He and Duncan Watts have crossed paths and have influenced one another’s work over the past several years. Barabasi has summarized for a lay audience the results of his research into the science of networking in his work entitled: Linked – How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life.

Linked methodically lays out the case that there are universal laws being discovered that demonstrate remarkable commonalities among networks as diverse as molecular structures within cells, airline hub and spoke route systems, electric power grids, the Internet, and the web of connections that led to the spread of AIDS.

Barabasi used the spread of Christianity in the First Century as an early example of networks enabling the viral spread of a message. He attributes the Apostle Paul’s network of contacts and his travel through the network that was the Roman Empire’s transportation system for much of the success of the spread of the Gospel message. No wonder Notre Dame wanted this man teaching physics on their campus!

If you are as intrigued as I am about the theory that lies behind much of the proliferation of social networking discussion that exists today, I think you will find Linked a worthwhile book to read and to ponder.

Al Chase


napkindesigner said...

Enjoyed your comments on Barbasi's book. You've inspired me to read Watt's book. It is interesting to see how node and hub linking explains so many processes in the world around us including biological processes, how the Internet is evolving and sociological communication networks.

It was interesting to hear Barabasi's insights on how the Internet has large "dark" areas that have little traffic other than those who directly call up specific URLs. These dark area sites are characterized as having less than seven links to their sites. Conversely, the "lit up" areas of the Internet is populated with sites rich with links. Bottom line: just as in the biological world, web sites will increasingly have to link to large link-rich hub sites to survive (to be seen in searches). Sounds historically familiar? Iindividuals bonding together as groups, who bond together as communities, who bond together as city-states so as to be able to survive.
Bill Batten

Roy said...

Linked is a fabulous and fascinating book that will open your eyes to the power and pervasiveness of networks if you haven't already realized it. It was an excellent and informative read that, unlike many books these days, found a permanent place in my library.

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