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Breakpoint: Why the Web will Implode, Search will be Obsolete, and Everything Else you Need to Know about Technology is in Your Brain Hardcover – July 23, 2013

3.8 out of 5 stars 37 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

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Stibel, brain scientist and entrepreneur, compares the Internet to the human brain as a network, and, as with all networks, the Internet is approaching a break point, along with many technologies and businesses that rely on it. Yet, as in nature, the break point will bring better things because “the fittest species are typically the smallest. . . . The unit of measure for progress isn’t size, it’s time.” We learn that post-break-point technology networks (he cites the Internet, the web, and Facebook) are just tools to further connect humans more deeply while encouraging and enhancing equality, since social media promotes democracy. The author contends that technology networks must encourage growth at all costs and avoid monetization too early, which requires patience but also requires “shifting gears” once the break point is reached. He suggests that “technology is on the verge of creating the types of things habitually reserved for humans: consciousness, intelligence, and emotion.” A fascinating book with important ideas for a wide range of library patrons. --Mary Whaley

From Kirkus Reviews

Brain scientist and entrepreneur Stibel (Wired for Thought: How the Brain Is Shaping the Future of the Internet, 2009) offers a provocative view of the future of the Internet.

Drawing on an understanding of the behavior of natural networks ranging from ant colonies to the human brain, the author notes that all successful networks develop in the same way. After a period of enormous growth, they reach a breakpoint, or pivotal moment, when they have overgrown and begin to decline. They then enter a state of equilibrium, in which the network grows not in quantity but in quality: Ant colonies exhibit greater intelligence; the brain grows wiser. Arguing that the Internet mirrors the brain (in effect, it is a kind of brain), Stibel writes that the Internet is approaching, but has not yet reached, a breakpoint; instead, its carrying capacity has been extended with broadband technology. To continue expanding at its current meteoric pace, it will have to evolve to use different energy sources, such as a chemical system, to increase the amount of information it can handle. In time, the Internet will hit the breakpoint, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. “Just as the brain gains intelligence as it overshoots and collapses,” writes Stibel, “so too may the Internet.” The author conjures a future online world that is smarter, denser and more relevant, relying on links with depth and dimensionality—the same kind found in a brain at equilibrium. Stibel applies his approach to a consideration of many issues, arguing that forced growth caused MySpace to collapse and may yet do the same with Facebook; that specialized apps will eliminate the need for search engines; and that eventually, there will be a unity of mind and machine, with two networks coming together as one.

Lucid and authoritative.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; F First Edition, 1st Printing edition (July 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781137278784
  • ISBN-13: 978-1137278784
  • ASIN: 1137278781
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Customer Reviews:
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #677,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5
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Reviewed in the United States on March 3, 2014
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Reviewed in the United States on August 18, 2013
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Top international reviews

PhilJ
1.0 out of 5 stars More hype and rhetoric, than substance. Look elsewhere for real insights.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 21, 2015
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A. D. Thibeault
4.0 out of 5 stars A Brief Summary and Review
Reviewed in Canada on July 30, 2013
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Vasanth Pragash
4.0 out of 5 stars Natural approach to synthtetic environment.
Reviewed in India on February 2, 2016
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