p.65 Metcalfe's Law – the usefulness, or utility, of a network equals the square of the number of users. In other words, the value of networked systems (e.g. telephone, fax, email, Web) grows exponentially as the user population increases in a linear manner.
No mention of the telegraph? Read "The Victorian Internet" by Tom Standage. The early history of the telegraph is another story of Metcalfe's law. Comments on the telephone, the Internet, and the WWW, and the growth of those networks, and the effects on innovation by imposing control on those networks, is described by Lessig in The Future Of Ideas. There is recent legal activity surrounding the control of the internet right now that I need to come up to speed on (keywords 'net neutrality' ?).
Hunter, in World without Secrets takes Metcalfe's Law further and says that "The power of a network in a given context equals the square of the number of people in the nework, times the intrinsic power of those people in that context." So the 'quality' of the 'nodes' matter? Linked, by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi is a fascinating introduction to networks from a more scientific point of view than the also popular Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Also related, in a network as a superorganism sort of way, is The Lucifer Principle, by Howard K. Bloom , which seems to build on Dawkin's concept of memes. Other places I've mentioned 'meme.'
Entry filed under: Ambient Findability.