The subtitle of this book is enough to garner intrigue – “How everything is connected to everything else, and what it means”. Wow! That’s a pretty big proclamation. I discovered Linked via an email from a former colleague who said she had read it and found it very interesting. This is a woman who is not prone to hyperbole, and when I got an email that made references to “neobiological” and the emergence of a new form of life from the Internet, I just had to know more.
Linked lives up to the expectation. Linked is all about networks. I don’t mean networks filled with ethernet cables and WiFi routers. Rather this is the study of logical networks that exist everywhere. The analysis of network theory, particularly the scale-free network model that the author creates, is all immensely interesting. I found the application of certain laws to scale-free networks most interesting. All scale-free networks must follow them. This becomes more interesting upon understanding that the Internet, the Web, our circle of friends and even the inner-workings of a human cell all follow the model of a scale-free network.
Prior to Barabasi’s work, network theory was dominated by random network models created by Erdős and Renyi. These random networks were mathematically interesting, and led to some worthwhile discoveries, but the problem is that very little in the real world follows a random network model.
Linked is a great book for provoking thought. While reading it I couldn’t help but consider all of the various networks that I am a node in. My head started to spin visualizing these multi-dimensional networks with connected nodes, behaving like wormholes in string theory.
More and more we are surrounded by, and participating in networks. The blogosphere is a scale-free network. LinkedIn is a scale-free network. Technology is extending the reach, and power, of these networks exponentially. It is worth us understanding the implications, and how to better leverage, these networks. I have no idea where this will all head, but after reading Linked I think I’ll be better equipped to understand it.