Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hidden information

I am currently reading a fascination book called “Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means” by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi. This was also after reading “Sync: How Order Emerges From Chaos In the Universe, Nature and Daily Life” by Steven H. Strogatz, which I didn’t find as good as Linked but none the less is still very interesting and a recommended read.

I’ve found that Barabasi’s book is far easier to read and understand and for me is more consistently interesting. One of the interesting concepts it talks about is the fact that most search engines can only index 40% of the web. The reason for this can be perhaps be explained by the following diagram from the book.


 In the central core are all the most common web sites that can be navigated from other web sites in the core. To the left are the “In Continent” web sites. These sites allow you to navigate to the web sites in the core but not back to the “In Continent” area. Likewise, the “Out Continent” web sites can be located via links from the core but don’t allow a return path. You also have smaller islands of web sites are separated from all areas.

We all tend to believe that the popular search engines fully index the Web. We expect that when we do a search we receive results from every web page on the Net. The more I read Linked the more I understand that the Web is not a random place, rather a network that is governed by links and their popularity, which develop in a way very different from what we expect.

Linked doesn’t only deal with computer networks it also applies its discoveries to things like social networks which has got me thinking. How many of us believe that we are truly “linked in” when we are in fact simply an island with a very small number of contacts? How many of us actually work to improve the number of social connections we have? Because these give us access to so much more information.

It is clear that the reason why Facebook and other social networking platforms have become so popular because they tap into this leveraging ability. However, I don’t think that you need to have Facebook to achieve this I must say. There are plenty of old fashion ways to move yourself closer to the core of information.

Anyone who is successful is always looking to boost their access to information. What are you doing?