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Network Effect

Network Effect

As we stroll across the Web 2.0 world, we see that the World Wide Web has become so much more than a platform that only retrieves information. Now it has created a stage for people to participate in information sharing and collaboration. However, the demand for social media, mobile services, online videos, blog posts, audio sharing has grown so fast and big that both the network and the users began to encounter problems handling it.

Networks graph allows us to visualize a directed World Wide Web, where web pages (nodes) are connected with links (edges). In a usual social network setting, the smallest entity would be two people sharing one connection, relationship, or friendship. The value of the relationship depends on how strong or weak the connection is. On the other hand, in a web network setting, two web pages are linked together, but those links are available to anyone with internet connections. Therefore, in network such as web or phone, the value of the item is measured by not the strength or the weaknesses, but the quantity of the users. This particular effect is called the network effect.

Positive network effect is the main reason why web-companies and start-up companies keep growing. However, negative network externalities can also occur, especially when too much demand of the product began to decrease its value. For example, if the node or the edge is overloaded or carrying too much data, network congestion occurs. As a fellow Cornell student, everyone has experienced the 7:00 am network congestion numerous times: course enrollment via the website studentcenter. Three thousand students log-on the website as the clock changes, requesting the exact same transactional link in order to “purchase” the course.  The job you ask it to perform waits in a queue for the longest time, or the data packet you sent fails to reach its destination, or it asks you to re-login. Network congests, and website crashes. On a larger scale, as Smartphone began to dominate the world, network congestion is becoming a bigger problem. Wireless data is updated and renewed constantly. Network overloads especially at conferences or holidays. For example, Blackberry had encountered network outrage and had resulted in massive frustrations for its users. The network itself is striving to handle the demand, due to negative network effect.

Furthermore, it’s not only the network itself that has difficulties, but we as users are also approaching a saturation point as well. In this brave world media, there are constantly new platforms, new networks, and new online communities being created. Users are in the risk of spreading themselves too thin among the networking-sites. There seems to be no time for users to rest. Network effect drags users into the viscous cycle for social media, and it’s hard to find a way out.

Network Congestion:

Social Media Saturation:


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