In Overconnected, Bill Davidow, a former Silicon Valley executive, explains how the almost miraculous success of the Internet Web has also created a unique set of hazards, in effect overconnecting us, with the direst of consequences for our political, economic, and day-to-day lives.
The practical applications of this new medium—not least among them the ability to borrow money, invest in the stock market, or buy a new home—have made it a force unequaled in scope or impact in our daily lives. But the luxuries of the connected age have taken on a momentum all of their own, ultimately becoming the root cause of the recent financial meltdown from which the world is now still struggling to recover. By meticulously and 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 that forced the Federal Government to rescue institutions supposedly “too big to fail.” All because we were so miraculously wired together! Explaining how such symptoms of Internet connection as unforeseeable accidents and 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. Original, commonsensical and historically informed, Overconnected indentifies problems we live with that are now so large, omnipresent and part of our daily lives that few people have even noticed them.