One telephone – in the whole world – is useless. Who would you call?
The more telephones there are – and especially the more telephones that belong to people you want to talk to – the more useful they become.
This is Metcalfe’s law: the value of a network increases exponentially with the size of the network.
It works for Lego, too. Add a brick, and you add many more possibilities.**
And it’s true for languages – broadly speaking, if more people speak a given language, the more opportunities knowing it creates.
Books also exist as a kind of network. They don’t just depend on other books to enrich their meanings. Books need other books to mean at all. Books make it easier for there to be more books, and if more people read them it makes your books more valuable.
Most things work better with other things – and it’s truer than ever as our networked age allows more people, things and ideas to connect than ever before.
Some ways to add value to a network:
- Expand the network – add a new node and increase the possible connections
- Highlight the best parts – not all books are equal
- Strengthen important connections.
- Make maps: find and share ways through the network that make it more useful, richer in meaning, faster, more fun
- Explore: find lost treasures at the periphery and bring them in
- Create: look for missing pieces – points of possibility that would add a lot of value to the network if they existed – then make them
** Two eight-stud Lego bricks of the same color can be combined in 24 different ways. Three eight-stud bricks can be combined in 1,060 ways. There are more than 915 million combinations possible for six 2 x 4 LEGO bricks of the same color. (Lego Land fun facts)