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Wired for Thought

In this age of hypercompetition, the Internet constitutes a powerful tool for inventing radical new business models that will leave your rivals scrambling. But as brain scientist and entrepreneur Jeffrey Stibel explains in Wired for Thought, you have to understand its true nature. The Internet is more than just a series of interconnected computer networks: it's the first real replication of the human brain outside the human body. To leverage its power, you first need to understand how the Internet has evolved to take on similarities to the brain. This engaging and provocative book provides the answer.
Stibel lays out:

* How networks have changed and what that implies for how people connect and form communities
* What the Internet-and online business opportunities-will look like in the future
* What the next stage of artificial intelligence will be and what opportunities it will present for businesses

Stibel shows how exceptional companies are using their understanding of the Internet's brainlike powers to create competitive advantage-such as building more effective Web sites, predicting consumer behavior, leveraging social media, and creating a collective consciousness.

The Big Ideas Behind Wired for Thought

Between the covers of Wired for Thought are some unusual ideas. They aren’t conventional thoughts. But if you are ready for a fresh perspective on the Internet—for ideas that will help you think about the Internet in a new way—then here they are:

  • The Internet is a brain. The Internet is more than a reflection of intelligence; it actually manifests intelligence. This is because the Internet (unlike computers) has evolved with many of the same basic structures and abilities as a brain. You may argue that “is a brain” and “is like a brain” are merely a matter of semantics, but subscribing to either version will help you better understand the Internet.
  • The human brain is rather dumb—but that is precisely why it’s so smart. The Internet, unlike mighty supercomputers, was built with many of the same weaknesses that enable human intelligence. Humanlike thinking will not come from creating more powerful computers or building on the strength of artificial intelligence, but rather from a network approach that mimics the weaknesses of human thinking.
  • The history of technology is not really a history but an evolution—one machine supplanting another in a Darwinian race for dominance. The history of the Internet takes things one step further: here we have an evolution that is in fact an extension of the evolution of the human brain.
  • Although the brain is a poor calculating machine, it is a pretty efficient prediction machine. Although a human brain cannot calculate a mathematical equation as quickly as even the most basic calculator, it can easily determine where a ball in midflight will land without calculating its precise trajectory or velocity. The brain functions very differently from computers, but it functions in a manner similar to the way the Internet works.
  • Just as human intelligence is a matter of creating and destroying memories and ideas, so is the Internet a machine that creates only to destroy. And the creative destruction underlying memories is the driving force behind the World Wide Web.
  • Language is an attribute that many consider uniquely human, but it is at the heart of the most popular and important tool on the Internet: search.
  • Inevitably, the Internet will crash. But it will get better and stronger with each collapse. In fact, all networks stop growing in size, but in so doing they grow in wisdom and strength. Similarly, by childhood, you will have lost most of the neurons that grew during your infancy. And as an adult, your brain continues to shrink. But as the number of neurons in your brain decreases, your wisdom increases.
  • The Internet may never be “conscious” in the human sense (and who needs it?), but it will be (and already is) capable of creating a collective consciousness. This, to a great extent, accounts for the success of the Internet.

    "I found Wired for Thought fascinating, fun to read and very accessible.  It gave me new insights and strengthened my understanding of both the brain and the Internet."

    Ellen Marram, Board of Directors, The New York Times, Eli Lilly, and Ford; Former President and CEO, Nabisco

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© 2009 Jeffrey M. Stibel, Wired for Thought™ published by:

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