Wired for Thought: How the Brain Is Shaping the Future of the Internet

Overview

A Bold Theory on How the Internet Will Evolve—and What It Will Mean for Business

If you want to succeed on the Internet, forget trying to understand how the latest Web phenomenon works. Instead, you need to understand how the mind works. According to Jeffrey Stibel, the Internet is evolving into a brain—and the Web sites, communities, networks, and companies that leverage this insight will own the future.

A brain scientist and serial ...

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Overview

A Bold Theory on How the Internet Will Evolve—and What It Will Mean for Business

If you want to succeed on the Internet, forget trying to understand how the latest Web phenomenon works. Instead, you need to understand how the mind works. According to Jeffrey Stibel, the Internet is evolving into a brain—and the Web sites, communities, networks, and companies that leverage this insight will own the future.

A brain scientist and serial entrepreneur, Stibel has made an impressive career translating his knowledge of neuroscience into successful Internet ventures. In Wired for Thought, he takes readers on an exhilarating journey into the world of “neuron hunters” who are using their knowledge of the Internet’s brainlike powers to create online businesses.

Viewing Web sites as the “neural networks” of the Internet, Stibel describes how ideas live, die, and spread like genetic material across the Web, quickly transforming the Internet from a mere repository of information to a “prediction machine” that can recognize patterns and intuit meaning. Through intriguing examples from Google, MySpace, The Search Agency, and others, Wired for Thought shows how this evolution is playing out—and offers practical advice and compelling predictions for innovators, including:

• How online networks grow, and how to manage each stage
• What looming dangers threaten social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter
• Why the Internet won’t grow forever—and what will happen when it hits the wall
• How advancements in artificial intelligence will impact businesses and consumers
• Why an “intelligent” Internet is closer than you think—and what it will be able to do

Science and business are converging to create the future of the Internet. This eye-opening and authoritative book will help you avoid the pitfalls and embrace the opportunities of this exciting new world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Stibel bridges the gap between business and the brain in his thinking, his numerous Internet innovations, and his writings. Wired for Thought helps us understand the Internet at a new, and more intelligent, level. This vision will influence our futures.”

—Dan Ariely, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Economics, MIT Sloan School of Management, and author of Predictably Irrational

“Jeff Stibel’s approach to entrepreneurship in Wired for Thought is an inspiring example of how the best entrepreneurs learn from the world around them and apply what they know to their business. It provides a great example of a multidisciplinary approach to business, as well as practical lessons for any aspiring entrepreneur. This book should be part of any business or entrepreneurship education.”

—Alexa Klebanow, President, Brown University Entrepreneurship Program

“Jeff Stibel has always been two steps ahead of the world of Internet and business, and in Wired for Thought he shares his unique vision in a practical way. Any Internet business will benefit from the connections he makes between what we know about the brain today and what we need to understand about the Internet for tomorrow.”

—Rolla Huff, Chairman and CEO, Earthlink

“Jeff Stibel is one of the most successful entrepreneurs I know, with an uncanny ability to teach others how to grow their businesses. Wired for Thought reveals his secret to success: an entirely new perspective on the Internet, the brain, and business.”

—John Assaraf, entrepreneur; featured expert in The Secret, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal; and bestselling author of Having it All and The Answer

“Wired for Thought is a tremendously provoking, enjoyable, and useful book. The central comparison of the brain and the Internet yielded obviously applicable ways to think about my own businesses and their future—specifically, how to choose, optimize, and manage our business structures. I recommend that you read this book to explore your own possibilities in our increasingly complex global economy.”
Jerry Ostrov, Chairman and CEO, Bausch & Lomb

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781422146644
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 9/21/2009
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


Jeffrey M. Stibel is a brain scientist and entrepreneur who has helped build numerous public and private companies. He is currently President of Web.com, a public company which helps entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses on the Web. Stibel was the recipient of a Brain and Behavior Fellowship while studying for his PhD at Brown. He serves on the boards of a number of private and public companies, as well as academic boards for Brown and Tufts University.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 24, 2009

    Fascinating read

    This is one of the most interesting books I have read in years. I received a preview copy and read it cover to cover in one day. I doubted the premise from the start but by the time I was done with the introduction, I was hooked.

    The book was easy to read yet dense with information. I have since read it two additional times and have taken so much from it. I highly recommend the book both as an general interest fun read as well as a practical guide to the Internet (and the brain).

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Internet is a brain

    Stibel spends much of this book comparing the brain to the Internet. He does an excellent job outlining the evolution of the Internet and how it is very similar to the brain. It provides a good deal of in depth practical advice but it is far more interesting as a science book, since it focusses mostly on the nuances of the brain and the Internet. It left me wanting more, particularly about the future of the Internet--but I guess that is the mark of a good book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Intriguing introduction to the parallels between the brain and the internet

    Brain scientist Jeffrey M. Stibel offers a bold, breezy examination of complex subjects related to his predictions about artificial intelligence and the future of the internet. He bases his forecasts on his understanding of the brain. Stibel moves smoothly among disciplines, writing confidently as a scientific observer. His useful perspective is interesting as well as entertaining. getAbstract believes a range of readers will find it relevant, including anyone intrigued by cyberculture, the internet's future or the possibility of artificial intelligence, those interested in the nature of humanity and where its limits reside and, of course, futurists and investors.

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  • Posted November 10, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The Internet is a brain?

    I have read many books on the brain but very few that do so good a job integrating technology and business. And as a business book (it was published by Harvard Business), Wired for Thought is one the best I have read in a long while, because it gives you a broad perspective. If you are looking for a good comparison, Stibel is part Pinker, part Hofstadter, part Gladwell. If you like these types of authors, you will love this book.

    As for the review: Wired for Thought was an exciting book, to say the least. Right from the start, I was engrossed. Stibel starts off with a thought experiment that wonders if you could ever use your thoughts to control electrical devices such as computers. And just as you are in disbelief, he presents a technology developed at Brown University that actually is doing this (a microchip called BrainGate that is implanted into the disabled to allow them to control computers with their minds). This BrainGate technology really does exist which stunned me (and sucked me into the book).

    To be fair, the premise was tough to swallow initially. But Stibel convinced me through his examples, experience and research--the Internet really is a brain. Stibel spends much of the early part of the book on the philosophy and science of the brain. De-mystifying the brain (in his words). And he does a great job of it. To summarize, Stibel basically argues that the brain is a network of electrically charged neurons. He then goes on to compare that to the Internet, which is just a network of electrically charged computers. I really appreciated his simple writing and explanation of both the brain and the Internet, both of which I did not completely understand.

    The middle section of Wired for Thought is spent on outlining how the Internet is truly intelligent. Stibel uses examples from Amazon, Netscape, Netflix, and of course Google, Facebook and Myspace. The best chapter was probably the one on social networks, where he quite descriptively outlines how the entire field was founded and formed around the brain. It was actually an exhilarating read, learning how Friendster took over Classmates, Myspace took over Friendster, and how Facebook and Twitter now dominate the landscape (I read that chapter twice).

    The final section of the book is more forward looking. Stibel does a really good job outlining where he envisions the future of the Internet, without sounding cheesy or melodramatic. Personally, I wish the book spent more time on this as it was very interesting but hopefully that means a sequel is coming.

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  • Posted September 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Interesting, but not compelling.

    A fairly easy read, with an interesting hypothesis - that the net is attaining human-like consciousness and intelligence. The author's ego struck me as obtrusive, in a way that Randy Komisar (another Brown alumnus) avoided in "The Monk & the Riddle." Read Gazzaniga or Pinker if you really want to delve into human consciousness and the mind.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 17, 2009

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    Posted October 6, 2009

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    Posted January 4, 2010

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