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Overconnected: The Promise and Threat of the Internet [Paperback]

William H. Davidow
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 20 Jan 2011 --  

Book Description

20 Jan 2011

In Feb 2006, a Danish newspaper printed twelve highly provocative caricatures of the prophet Muhammad. The drawings landed on the internet and quickly circled the globe. As a direct result, riots ensued and at least 139 people died. This is just one example of overconnection.

The consequences of an over-connected world cannot be ignored. In this important book, William H. Davidow takes a highly pragmatic approach by recognising that the digital clock cannot be turned back in terms of ubiquitous connectivity, but urges that caution and forethought is applied to the systems we build in the future. Davidow identifies four distinct levels of connection: Underconnected, Interconnected, Highly Connected and Overconnected. Highly Connected is the ideal state we must strive for and avoid spilling into Overconnected.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Business Plus (20 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755362284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755362288
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,316,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'Many big vision books are bunk. Bill's is the real deal.'

Geoffrey Moore, Author, CROSSING THE CHASM


'The book is brilliant, original, sobering and fascinating. It is extraordinarily important. Read it.'

John Shoven, Director of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research


'One of the pioneers of modern technology shows how the unanticipated effects of the Internet are distorting economics, politics, international relations, and individual lives. This book is clear, original, and worth being widely read.'

James Fallows, Author and National Correspondent for The Atlantic

(The Atlantic)

Book Description

Former senior VP at Intel explores the consequences of a highly connected digital world and what that means

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Books about the dangers of the internet aren't likely to get much of an audience right now, and some might be tempted to dismiss them as neo-Luddite scare-mongering. But a book about the downsides of online connectivity written by an insider, a venture capitalist and former VP of Intel, well, that might just get a little attention.

William Davidow watched the development of the internet from the ground up, overseeing the development of the microprocessor chip at Intel and part of a circle of Silicon Valley pioneers. He now believes that the internet has pushed us from an ideal state of being `highly connected' to the unstable state of being `overconnected'.

Why? Because the greater the number of connections, the greater the amount of feedback, and the greater the chance of things spinning out of control. Practically speaking, that could be an inflammatory Danish cartoon prompting riots in Muslim countries, for example, or a stampede against a currency that brings down an entire economy. "The internet has created a world where speed erases the ability to reflect" says Davidow. "The actions society takes have become so complex and interwoven that the simplest ones have effects far beyond what we imagine."

Overconnected explores the idea of overconnection historically, comparing the development of the internet to that of the railways in the US. It compares the 2007-08 financial crisis with previous investment bubbles to see the effects of the internet. Davidow also addresses risk management, engineering, economics and culture, in a diversity of perspectives that suggests a wide-reading author with a curious mind.

By way of solutions, there's really no way to undo the internet, nor would anyone want to - there are too many benefits.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Length: 1:37 Mins
This book is essentially about the dangers of unregulated positive feedback, and breaks a lance for greater awareness of the damage that such feedback can cause. A major theme is that regulation tends to take time to catch up with technological developments and with new forms of interconnections. Although much of the book is about the interactions between financial markets, financial regulation (or lack of it) and the internet, Davidow also explores other forms of interconnection such as railways to Chicago in the 19th century and the roots of America's overdependence on the automobile. His plea is essentially for more forethought by governments, regulators and us all about the dangers of positive feedback in heavily connected systems.

Many books on systems dynamics are heavy going even for the more well-informed reader. Davidow combines the experience and insights of a veteran of Silicon Valley with wide-ranging historical analysis, and has produced an insightful and accessible book that is also a good read.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chaos, butterflies and the internet 30 Mar 2012
By Ron Immink - Published on Amazon.com
When I bought this, I thought the book was about the people who are over-connected on Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, etc. Boy was I wrong. It is about the perils of the overconnected world as a system. Read it after I had just finished after a new novel by Robert Harris called the "The fear index". How AI, hedging, mathematics and algorithms impact on trading. In this case the programme takes over and created the right events to ensure profit.

Overconnected follows in that vain and is about chaos theory, the unintended consequences of everything being connected on the world by exacerbating the effect of what is digital contagion.

What Shallows and future mind say about the effect of the internet on the brain, this explains the effects on the world. And it is not good. Touches upon "The world is flat", how cultural lag becomes a serious issue when technology changes too fast and when we no longer understand cause and effect. The digital version of the butterfly effect. Yep, chaos theory and the internet.

How feedback system propagate and create huge booms and bust effects. How in highly complex and tightly connected systems accidents are normal and there is no way to avoid them. Adding more safeguards increases the probability of a horrible accident.

Remember the movie Jurasic Park how secure the safety systems was supposed to be. Imagine an electronic Jurasic park on the internet with your money, with a nuclear plant, with a country (Iceland for example) or with a bank. Exactly.

The lesson? Plan for volatility. A lot of volatility.
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