If you enjoyed The Tipping Point and you are looking for more information on networks and how information spreads, you’ll enjoy Linked. Barabasi is a professor of physics at Notre Dame studing the properties of networks. He’s found that many networks are scale-free networks and he describes the similarities of a diverse set of networks from the internet, to cells, to Hollywood, to people’s sexual relationships to Al-Queda. He claims that corporations now have to be organized in a network instead of a hierarchy in order to survive. We all have a lot to learn in this area.
Some of the characteristics of a scale-free network is that there is no one central hub, there are a number of hubs that have many links connected to them (Google, Amazon, etc). In addition there are a few nodes (or hubs) with lots and lots of links (like Google and Amazon) and lots of nodes with just a few links. And there’s no controling factor but it’s not random. New nodes tend to connect to existing nodes that have been there the longest and that have the most links.
All that said, Barabasi makes it clear that there’s still a lot of research left to do in this area. Barabasi has a web page that discusses some of his current research at http://www.nd.edu/~alb.