Sunday, August 17, 2003

A lesson from the recent blackout

The recent blackout offered everybody a lesson -- one that goes beyond the science of electrical grid design (emphasis added):

The events of the past few days — unwanted side effects of our network society — are just one of the periodic reminders that we live in a globalized world. While celebrating that everybody on earth is only six handshakes from us, we need to accept that so are their problems and vulnerabilities.

Most failures emerge and evaporate locally, largely unnoticed by the rest of the world. A few, however, percolate through our dense technological and social networks, hitting us from the most unexpected directions. Unless we are willing to cut the connections, the only way to change the world is to improve all nodes and links.

[Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, professor of physics at the University of Notre Dame, author of Linked: The New Science of Networks, in We're all on the grid together -- The New York Times -- free registration required]


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