April 11, 2020

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Network-based design and innovation

 

Networks, explains Harvard's economic historian Niall Ferguson in his latest book The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook, are key to understand how economic innovation and revolutions happen. Networks precede formal institutions, explains Ferguson, and are the "connectors" that make innovative ecosystems viable:
 

 

 

This is what happened with Silicon Valley: the Apples, Googles and Facebooks cannot be explained just by the stories of their individual founders. Informal networks of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, research centers and large corporation labs were key to build the Facebooks, Googles, Apples and Ubers and "pass the baton" from one generation of tech wizzards and marketing pioneers to the next, as Leslie Berlin explains in her book "Troublemakers: Silicon Valley Coming of Age" analyzing the stories of Silicon Valley networks:

 

 

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