June 11, 2008
News & Opinion: Globalization and the power of networks
Think about a measurement system. Sure, some people will claim that the metric system is intrinsically better than the Imperial because it's easier to calculate in a decimal system.
But Britain didn't switch from Imperial to metric just because the latter is base ten. It did so because of what economists call "network effects." The value of any given coordinating standard -- like a measurement system or a language -- is worth more when more other people use it. And Britain's neighbors and largest trading partners generally do. There are "economies of scale" to being part of the larger network.
Globalization has introduced a new coordination game among literally billions of people. With apologies to Thomas Friedman, the world isn't flat. But it is networked -- and we're all heading to Grand Central Station after one fashion or another.
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About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.