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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2011
With apologies to Al Gore, I think William Davidow has the REAL story to tell us about the magic, and danger, that the Internet presents. Events in the Arab world during the past few months illustrate vividly the speed and magnitude of unintended consequences in the internet era. Read the book and be prepared for the next seemingly inexplicable event....
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2011
this book was reviewed by my husband, Mel Britton. His comments are as follows:
Bill Davidow was "present at the creation", and has been at the center of the silicon chip revolution for his entire career. His previous books have dealt with how to market and how to service high technology. In his third book, "The Virtual Corporation", he described what could be done with chip technology.
Now, after a hiatus of ten years, during which he has been reading and thinking deeply about the meaning of technology, he has written, "Overconnected".
I found the book to be a "page turner", by which I mean that complex ideas were expressed in clear and "novel-like" prose.
"Overconnected" is a revelation of the possible unintended consequences of our silicon revolution. But the author is not a Cassandra, with warnings. Rather, he has created, in "Overconnected", a foundation from which we can espy and create a proper ediface of technology.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2011
Overconnected is a stimulating and thought-provoking book that explores some of the most serious negative aspects of modern high-speed communications. The author explores in a highly readable manner the way societies develop connections and how these effect the societal development. Starting with historical examples the author then considers the impacts of the rapid growth of connectivity in the internet age and how this has vastly amplified the impact of "small bumps" in modern society. A major theme is that the rapid communications brought about by the internet and its consequences have rapidly outstripped the institutions that society has built to stabilize the kinds of fluctuations that occur. The examples used here are drawn predominantly from the economic sector, but it seems to me that the ideas pertain to other societal issues such as abusive behavior in social media and modern political discourse.

This book is very easy to read and is a MUST READ for anyone concerned with where modern society is headed. I hope it will be a starting point for serious discussions among policy makers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2011
Bill Davidow has written a brilliant book which, in my view, is a must read. His discussions regarding the internet are clear, cogent, and utterly informative. The lessons learned are very helpful to those who must make judgments regarding our connected world. I am sending this book to friends and business associates in the hope that they too will recommend it. Written in a clear and concise format so that all can understand the new connected world in which we live in, this book should be a must read for everybody. I wish I could give this a rating of more than five stars. A brilliant, wonderful piece of work by a pioneer in the field!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2011
My name is Phil Simon and I have written three books, including The New Small. I enjoyed this book because of the author's willingness to stand up and ask, "Is all of this change good?" Since the answer is no, Davidow goes beyond that and offers suggestions for how to tame the beast that is the Internet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2011
This book is a page turner. If you're browsing through the book at a bookstore spend five minutes skimming through the chapters on over-connectedness and the tiny country of Iceland (chapters 7 and 8). Once I started reading this book, I didn't want to put it down.

Other reviewers have already commented on the insightful and deep contents of the book; I have nothing to add to their comments. I do, however, want to tell you that this is enjoyable reading. If you're at the airport waiting for a flight buy this book; a long flight will seem so much shorter (and you would have learned something too).
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2011
Not what I expected, which was a more scholarly treatment of the subject by an industry insider and a PhD.

Instead the subject is treated as casually as a campfire story. Although a bibliography is included, the many assertions lacked verifiable citations or footnotes. The book also meanders and digresses to the point where it seems more bent on historical monologue than penetrating analysis and convincing arguments.

The subject of the Subprime meltdown of 2007 was a reoccurring topic in the book, but it appears to be marginally handled in terms of how the internet factored into the disaster. John Cassidy's excellent "How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities" was a good read on the subject, and ironically attributed hardly a paragraph to the internet as a factor while making a compelling argument to implicate old school free market forces and communication (i.e., do you really need the internet to be aware of prices when you're on the trading floor, or when your agents are on the phone?).

In Overconnected, the case of the internet as culprit might be overstated because of the author's unique industry perspective. As the saying goes, if all you have is a hammer, then every problem is a nail.
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on August 22, 2014
The perils of being overconnected

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.

Digital contagion

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.

The digital butterfly effect

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.

Boom and bust

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.

Security is an illusion

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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on March 2, 2013
The premise of this book is simple: that the more connected a system becomes, the more "locked-in" it gets, and thus the more vulnerable it grows. Davidow raises a number of examples to support this premise: from the subprime crisis, to the story of Pittsburgh steel, to an extended investigation of Iceland's fated foray into international finance. This book focuses more extensively on the economic side of things; Davidow talks about how the Internet does away with traditional market system "givens" such as governmental regulation; pressure to contribute to, or at least detract from the common good; and a conscientious self-regulation due to awareness of one's physical and social environs. More discussion of social ramifications of Davidow's idea of "overconnectedness" would have been appreciated-- does the author believe that we also become vulnerable in terms of the degradation, homogenization, or commercialization of our culture?

The reason I raise the latter point is because others would seem to argue that the Internet just as well contributes to the diversification of our perspectives. That we don't go online to just read news that fans our own political fires, but to explore counterpoints, ornery as we may find them. That the Internet does not contribute to communities-- whether political, ethnic, or ideological-- "locking in" and becoming isolated greenhouses unto themselves, but to their expansion and flourishing through the very interconnectedness that sometimes generations apprehension. I don't know; when I see some Youtube clip that involves however faintly both China and Japan, say, and then I witness the arguing back in forth in languages that are not mutually intelligible, or even worse, in broken, epithet-ridden English, I cringe and wonder ever more about whether this interconnectedness is more like a free-flowing coffeehouse or no-holds-barred carnival.

That said, for the purpose of looking at Davidow's idea of "overconnectedness" through some other (e.g. political, socio-cultural, etc.) lens, here are some good, layman-level books to read in tandem with "Overconnected":

Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat"
Fareed Zakaria's "The Post-American World"
Alfred Laszlo-Barabasi's "Linked"
Clay Shirky's "Here Comes Everybody"
Sherry Turkle's "Alone Together"

Happy reading!
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