Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Read a great blog entry by Jon Udell about "power law distributions". It is the notion that when you link everything up into a network, you don't get an egalitarian world... power accumulates just like in the real world. We thought a lot about this when we were building Infoseek Japan... I'm going to have to think about this more before I can contribute something intellectually to this, but you should read the entry. He also quotes the WSJ at the end of the entry. I add this to add some holiday cheer here...

John Udell
Jon Udell: Scale-free networks and mirror worlds

Well, not quite forever. Today's Wall Street Journal featured this grimly comic fantasy about the financial debacle we have lately endured: In a recent letter to shareholders, Ralph Wanger, the iconoclastic chief investment officer at Liberty Wanger Asset Management in Chicago, laments that his firm lost $956 million through the end of the third quarter. To put that figure in perspective, he tried to figure out how hard it would be to lose that much money on purpose. His explanation follows:

Wall Street Journal
One way to do it would have been to convert $956 million into $100 bills on Jan 1, 2002 and order our 20 investment professionals to spend all their time burning it. It sounds sort of festive really -- drink some beer, make S'mores and enjoy the glow, warmth and fellowship around the bonfire (singing Kumbaya optional). How hard would we have had to work to do this? Well, if one person diligently burned one $100 bill at the rate of one bill every 10 seconds and worked seven hours a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year, that one person could burn up $63 million in a year. It would take all 20 of us working full time at this repetitive task to get rid of $956 million in just nine months.