Overconnected: The Promise and Threat of the Internet

Overconnected: The Promise and Threat of the Internet

by William Davidow


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781883285463
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/04/2011
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.42(w) x 9.32(h) x 0.93(d)

What People are Saying About This

Bill Bradley

"This book is an engagingly written primer on the impacts of the world's most powerful interconnection technology. Every policy maker, politician, and businessperson should read it to gain a deeper understanding into how the Internet will transform government, our social institutions, the economy, and our lives."--(Former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley)

James Fallows

�Overconnected has the wonderful effect of explaining seemingly unrelated problems in a way that instantly makes sense once it is pointed out, and that also suggests feasible corrections. One of the pioneers of the 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�bestselling author and National Correspondent for The Atlantic)

John Shoven

�I don't think I have ever read a book with more "ah hah" moments. Suddenly I get it. I now appreciate the importance and danger of positive feedback for the economy, the role of the computerized trading in the 1987 stock market crash and the role of the internet in the 2008 financial crisis. The book is brilliant, original, sobering and fascinating. It is an extraordinarily important. Read it.� --(John Shoven, Director of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research)

Geoffrey Moore

�As has been his wont in the past, Bill Davidow has once again put his finger squarely on the most salient risk in contemporary economic life. Earlier it was the rise of the virtual corporation (an idea Bill brought to the surface over twenty years ago). Now it is overconnectedness and all the issues of contagion it implies. Many big vision books are bunk. Bill�s is the real deal. Let his thoughtfulness deepen your own.�--(Geoffrey Moore, Author, Crossing the Chasm)

David M. Kennedy

�Bill Davidow artfully employs historical analogies�many of them startlingly novel�to ask some penetrating questions about the Internet revolution and its implications for commerce, finance, politics, and culture. Written with punch and passion, Overconnected invokes examples from the South Sea Bubble and the economic implosion of Iceland to the rise of Chicago and the near-demise of New Orleans to demonstrate the in-built vulnerability of inter-connected systems. Davidow argues compellingly that connectivity without coordination is a formula for chronic instability�and that hyper-connection without coordination is a formula for mega-catastrophe, as recent events have shown. This is a bold and brave book. Its message deserves to go viral.�--(David M. Kennedy, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945, and Professor of History emeritus at Stanford University)

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Overconnected: The Promise and Threat of the Internet 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
rivkat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Disappointing. First of all, Davidow can¿t decide whether he means ¿internet¿ or ¿modern communication technologies.¿ Many of the things he describes as generating dangerous connections and thus dependencies on complex systems that can easily and quickly be brought down by small mistakes can equally be done by private systems, and in some cases were done by such systems linking only, for example, banks. Second, Davidow chooses to place blame at weird points: the internet is responsible for the dot-com crash not because dot-coms were internet companies, but because it allowed the rise of day traders, who invested even when the smart money had moved on. This is, to put it mildly, somewhat misleading about the role of fraud and insider self-dealing in handing out gifts to the well-connected; it¿s true that there needed to be some suckers left to take the hit when reality emerged, but they¿re not the ones I hold responsible (or think regulation should focus on) any more than the people who took out subprime loans are the ¿cause¿ of the current economic collapse. Davidow is also disappointingly short on solutions, which isn¿t surprising if he hasn¿t identified key causes.
WillScarlet More than 1 year ago
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!
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
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.