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Overconnected: The Promise and Threat of the Internet by William H. Davidow

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THREE

How Overconnectivity Can Both Make Us and Break Us

Positive feedback can be good or bad. Frequently, we are only too happy to have it. Sometimes, we regret what it does. And we don’t have to look very far back in history to see both its beneficial and its negative effects.

The story of Silicon Valley is a tale of positive feedback at its best. A slender, twenty-mile strip of land between Palo Alto and San Jose, California, the valley is a densely connected environment where geographic proximity, informal social networks, and the diffusion of knowledge from academic institutions all played an important role in the area’s growth. And for the first forty years of its existence, Silicon Valley saw the far-reaching effects of positive feedback—long ...

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