Overconnected: The Promise and Threat of the Internet

Overview

In OVERCONNECTED, Bill Davidow explains how the almost miraculous success of the Internet in connecting the world through the Worldwide Web has also created a unique set of hazards, in effect overconnecting us, with the direst of consequences.

The benefits of our recently arrived-at state of connectivity have been myriad – from the ease with which it has been possible to buy a new house to the convenience of borrowing and investing money profitably. But the luxuries of the ...

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Overconnected: The Promise and Threat of the Internet

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Overview

In OVERCONNECTED, Bill Davidow explains how the almost miraculous success of the Internet in connecting the world through the Worldwide Web has also created a unique set of hazards, in effect overconnecting us, with the direst of consequences.

The benefits of our recently arrived-at state of connectivity have been myriad – from the ease with which it has been possible to buy a new house to the convenience of borrowing and investing money profitably. But the luxuries of the connected age have taken on a momentum all of their own. By counter-intuitively anatomizing how being overconnected tends to create systems of positive feedback that have largely negative consequences, Davidow explains everything from the recent Subprime mortgage crisis to the meltdown of Iceland, from the loss of people’s privacy to the spectacular fall of the stock market. All because we were so miraculously wired together.

Explaining how such symptoms of Internet connection as unforeseeable accidents and how thought contagions acted to accelerate the downfall and make us permanently vulnerable to catastrophe, Davidow places our recent experience in historical perspective and offers a set of practical steps to minimize similar disasters in the future.

William Davidow is a successful Silicon Valley venture capitalist, philanthropist, and author, and as a senior vice-president of Intel Corporation, he was responsible for the design of the Intel microprocessor chip. He has written three previous books—“Marketing High Technology” (The Free Press, 1986) and “Total Customer Service” (Harper, 1989), both with Bro Uttal, and “The Virtual Corporation" (Harper, 1992), with Michael Malone—as well as columns for Forbes and numerous op-ed pieces. He graduated from Dartmouth College, has a masters degree from the California Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University. He serves on the boards of Cal Tech, the California Nature Conservancy, and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The amazing Internet we use for everything from searching for baby names to applying for jobs to health information to buying a house is all tied together. For the same reason it works so well, it can be our downfall. The author, a venture capitalist and former Intel executive, provides a history of the web from its humble Arpanet beginnings through the current fiscal collapse. He delves into Iceland's bank failures, the subprime mortgage disaster, and other contemporary pitfalls like spam, scammers, and identity theft, and how interconnectedness has played a role in it all. Much of this is based on the engineering concept of positive feedback, with the continued reinforcing of actions gaining speed over time. The atuhors' ideas for resolving these problems include restructuring, increasing regulation, and taxation of large companies. VERDICT An interesting look at a problem we live with but may never have really considered, this will primarily appeal to computer and financial types.—Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. Libs, Oxford, OH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781883285470
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/10/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: New Lessons from the Internet 3

1 What the Steam Engine Can Teach Us about the Internet 13

2 Overconnectivity and Surprises 19

3 How Overconnectivity Can Both Make Us and Break Us 29

4 Expect More Accidents and Contagions 39

5 The Ghost in Our Midst 51

6 Why the Internet Is Accident-Prone 63

7 From Fishing to Finance 71

8 How the Internet Tricked Iceland 85

9 Positive Feedback and Horrendous Financial Crashes 107

10 How the Internet Supercharged the Subprime Crisis 119

11 Positive Feedback and Information Efficiency at Work 135

12 How Overconnectivity Stole Your Privacy 151

13 Everything is Interconnected—Part I 161

14 Everything Is Interconnected—Part II 175

15 What Now? 187

16 What Now, Continued: Katrina, Social Security, and a Tribe of Aborigines 201

Notes 215

Bibliography 219

Index 227

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 1, 2012

    connects the dots.

    This boook helps us to see that there is no such thing as coincidense.
    Each meltdown comes along quicker with the advent of instant commmunication!

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  • Posted June 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Thoroughly original thoughts from a Silicon Valley insider who questions the Internet's benefits

    This original presentation covers the history, benefits, problems and possible solutions associated with the Internet's expansion. Venture capitalist and author William Davidow is a Silicon Valley insider who convincingly argues that global interconnectivity places great stress on political and economic institutions' ability to police the Internet. His examples illustrate that recent economic crashes - as well as invasions of privacy, identity hacking and the proliferation of pornography - are all part of the Internet's unregulated advance. Davidow warns that the Internet will impel bigger, more complex institutional breakdowns and economic manias, and that only increased government regulation can keep it in check. getAbstract recommends his cautionary report to those who study technology and those who use it.

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