Metcalfe’s Law Revisited, Or Take a Node to Lunch Day

June 18, 2009

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Take your best node to lunch today.

Metcalfe’s Law states that “the value of a network  is proportional to the square of the number of nodes.” Every 10 nodes added increases the value a hundredfold. Big isn’t just better, it’s better-squared. The law applies to a network of compatible communication devices (fax machines, cell phones). Does it apply to people in your personal network?

There’s been a bit written on Metcalfe’s Law in a Web 2.0 world here and here. If you want to get mathy, follow those links. But here’s my take:

  • Metcalfe’s Law: V = n², where V is the value of the network and n is the number of nodes (compatible communication devices)
  • Metcalfe’s Law Revisited For Getting Stuff Done in a Web 2.0 World: V = (n*e)². e is engagement of the users

Think about this for your personal network. It’s not hard to amass crowds of Twitter followers or LinkedIn connections. But the more you go for volume, the less committed the average member is. Which is fine, parts of life are a volume game and the n in the equation is important.

But in a Web 2.0 world, the e is equally important. Who are the most engaged nodes in your network? Don’t treat them like nodes. Treat them like the valued and committed collaborators that they are. Take your best node to lunch today.

Photo by Noah Sussman

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