It is hard to believe how young the Internet is from an evolutionary point of view. There are now more devices connected to the Internet than there are people on earth. In the 20 years since the browser’s invention, the World Wide Web has gone from 15 million users to more than 2.5 billion. One site alone, YouTube, did more traffic last year than the entire Internet did in 2000. Facebook now has more users than the entire Internet had in 2004. And, in surveys, the average person is more willing to forgo coffee, sleep, TV, even sex, than to give up online access.
Growth is a core tenet of success. Technology has limits. The whole network is set to collapse if we don’t cull it down.
Brain scientist James Stibel has looked at how systems hit the tipping point and fail — from ant colonies to the civilization on Easter Island—and has some insights into how we can keep the Web healthy and growing.