Brad Feld

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Metcalfe Speaks About V~N^2

Aug 17, 2006
Category Technology

After bitching earlier today about the current lack of critical thinking in the world today, Michael Hirshland of Polaris posted a long piece by his partner – Bob Metcalfe – titled Metcalfe’s Law Recurses Down the Long Tail of Social Networks – which displays an abundance of critical thinking.

Metcalfe starts out by addressing a recent IEEE Spectrum article titled Metcalfe’s Law is Wrong – explaining why he thinks the authors’ analysis is boneheaded – and then proceeds to dissect Metcalfe’s Law and then put it back together in the context of Chris Anderson’s Long Tail and the current excitement around social networking. 

It’s not an easy read (I’ve read it twice – I’ll take a third crack at it in the morning) but in between Metcalfe’s wicked sense of humor lie a couple of gems.  As someone who believes the really interesting stuff around social networking is just now starting to be worked on, V~N^2 – which has been around since I was 14 – lives on in powerful ways.

Ironically, on the heals of all of this, I saw an article somewhere today (I’ve lost it and can’t find it again) that says that the telecoms are going to have to make massive investments in the network again to support the expected demands of all the coming video and audio traffic that’s a result of all of the newly discovered Internet activity.  What was that about a bandwidth glut?  V~N^2 anyone?