Wednesday 4 September 2013

Book Review: Connected

Connected: The Amazing Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler is an accessible exploration of the fundamental role of networks in our world. These respected academics bring together research from a wide variety of sources to demonstrate the importance of networks to our health, wealth, thoughts and fashions.

Without resorting to jargon the authors explain the extent of influence in networks (typically significant to 3 degrees of separation) and the breadth of factors that demonstrate contagious behaviour within networks (including divorce and obesity). I wonder what influences Kevin Bacon and I may be having on each other...

The book touches on the network significance of religions in which adherents have a direct relationship with God. They explain how this increases the interconnectedness of faith networks since all believers are only one remove from each other through their direct connection with God. Through outbreaks of contagious laughter and disease to discussion of the wealth of nations, this book has plenty to stimulate the thoughts of policy-makers and casual readers alike.

I found "Connected" encouraged me to have greater sympathy for individuals as the product - to a greater extent than I had imagined - of the networks in which they develop.

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