A brilliant, thought-provoking and wonderfully well-written exploration of the new science of networks, showing how the complex interconnectedness of both things and people rules our lives.
Six degrees of separation' is a clich-, as is 'it's a small world', both clich-s of the language and clich-s of everyone's experience. We all live in tightly bonded social networks, yet linked to vast numbers of other people more closely than we sometimes think. Only in recent years, however, have scientists begun to apply insights from the theoretical study of networks to understand forms of network as superficially different as social networks and electrical networks, computer networks and economic networks, and to show how common principles underlie them all. Duncan Watts explores the science of networks and its implications, ranging from the Dutch tulipmania of the 17th century to the success of Harry Potter, from the impact of September 11 on Manhattan to the brain of the sea-slug, from the processes that lead to stockmarket crashes to the structure of the world wide web. As stimulating and life-changing as James Gleick's Chaos, Six Degrees is a ground-breaking and important book.
An Australian, born in Canada, Duncan Watts currently teaches at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of Small Worlds: The Dynamics of Networks: Between Order and Randomness (Princeton University Press; 1999).