Wired for Thought - How the Brain Is Shaping the Future of the Internet

02 Nov 2011

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Book: Wired For Thought: How The Brain Is Shaping The Future Of The Internet
Author: Jeffrey M. Stibel, Erik Calonius, Peter Delgrosso
ISBN-13: 978-1422146644

Jeffrey Stibel is a brain scientist and entrepreneur, who is the chairman of BrainGate, a brain-implant company that allows people to use their thoughts to control electrical devices and also the president of web.com which helps entrepreneurs to grow their business in the web. Most importantly, this book is recommended by my all time favorite author John Assaraf. What else you need to read this book?.

Stibel says that The Internet is a brain. This is because the Internet (unlike computers) has evolved with many of the basic structures and abilities of the brain. He compares the evolution of human brains over the millions of years with the evolution of the network of computers (i.e. Internet) and concludes that both follow the same pattern. He claims that the network of neurons in our brain is similar to the network of computers on the Internet. He doesn’t claim that the Internet may become “conscious” in human sense in future. But, it will be capable of creating a collective consciousness.

This book is divided into four sections with multiple chapters.

Part I - Building the Brain:

From a scientific perspective, he explains the human brain’s thinking capability and its limitations. Three most important things to the brain: information storage, processing, and communication with other neurons. As of now, the Internet does information storage and communication. Cloud computing does the processing. What would happen, if we upgrade the Internet with Cloud computing?. We can achieve what MapReduce did for Google.

Part II - Internet Intelligence:

The human brain does not calculate all the possible combinations of output for making a decision. It makes the decision with little information (Instinct?). Its very good at predicting where the cricket ball will land after a sixer without knowing its velocity, trajectory path etc, rather than predicting the weather next day. To process very little information, you don’t need supercomputers. You get the idea?. Also, he talks about “Creative Destruction” in a separate chapter. How neurons lose the connections after maturing into a complete brain is analogous to the way many websites/companies disappear from the web.

Part III - The Brain behind the Web:

He compares the websites to memes. iN a chapter, he discusses how the search engines work (primarily Google) and the competition between the websites to appear on the first page of the search results are analogous to the Survival of the fittest - Darwinism. He is one of the men behind the algorithm that propels Google’s Adsense. He discusses the importance of understanding the language to select the right ads based on the keywords. Very Interesting!.

Metcalfe’s law is discussed in detail and why it did not work. He defines the stages of the Networking as

Further, he discusses in detail about the Social Networks and the advantages “facebook” has over the other similar sites. Very interesting to see where the web is going !.

Part IV - Internet:

This is the very interesting section of the entire book, which discusses where the Internet is heading to?. Some of the predictions are…

When I first started reading this book, I thought Stibel is going to present the SEO concepts in Brain flavor. But, I was wrong. I have a completely new perspective on the Internet. With this information and perspective, we can fine-tune our websites for long time survival on the Web. Many of these things are already happening. Let’s jump in and have fun. Thanks to Stibel for a wonderful book.

Please buy the book from your local bookstore.

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