The Power Law of Information

A certain level of control is always necessary for maintaining integrity in a social system—like enforcing laws and ... In intuitive terms, a power law denotes a system with a very small number of extremely powerful entities and a very ...

The Power Law of Information

We live in an era of unparalleled access to information and communication technologies. The Internet and other information tools like the television are becoming ever more central to our lives—we chat, blog, e-mail and e-shop, leaving behind our footprints in this version of public space. In addition, we are constantly bombarded with different kinds of information that seek to mould our thinking in subtle ways. The reader of this book will discover that social information networks possess qualities that are counter-intuitive. Social information networks form what are called frictionless, nonlinear systems. The behaviour of such systems can be extremely complex, making it hard to predict, let alone control. Despite this, there are some common features displayed by such systems, especially the ‘power law’ distribution. A power law distribution of societal influence, for example, would depict a society where a small percentage of society would wield enormous clout, while the larger part would have very little or no influence. Such a society would be highly polarized, with no room for the middle ground. The book investigates properties of frictionless, non-linear systems and the unconventional thought processes needed to comprehend them. It also shows how information affects us in a variety of ways: be it human rationality, the spread of ideas in society, or global monetary systems. Drawing upon current research, the author offers directions on how to model the new world taking shape and possibly to also steer it in the right direction.

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