Metcalfe’s Law debunked

Research conducted by Odlyzko and Tilly at the University of Minnesota has resulted in the assertion that the previously accepted Metcalfe’s Law – that the value of business networks increases with the square of the number of devices within a network – is massively overestimated. Students of my classes will probably not be surprised as I tended to make a habit of screwing up my face and telling people not to believe what they read, when I came to the topic of Metcalfe’s law in GSN402 Strategic Use of Information Technology, but it’s nice to see the proof of the matter. This kind of absurd posturing on technology value is dangerous for its effect on overall business planning for IT, and it is far better to be conservative in estimations of technology value in an organisation. It’s still better to have a good workforce than to have a sophisticated network run by a sub-standard employee base.

Thanks also to Kevin for this link to the story about Apple winning the rights to have three anonymous bloggers reveal their sources in discussing trade secrets in their blogs. The ruling may set a rather dicey precedent for bloggers who take pride in reporting a commercial “scoop” on their blogs, but it’s also probably fair enough that bloggers don’t erode any competitive advantages that companies may feel is due to them for keeping news on development of their products secret.

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