Some time in the past, I read that Charles Dickens was attacked by contemporaneous critics for what they saw as an overuse of coincidence in his work. What they missed was that Dickens was one of the first people writing in a sustained way about life in early-modern cities. When you stack enough people in a single place, at an unprecedented density, confluences happen at a very increased rate. It’s the network effect.
They used to say that if your kink is one in a million, and you live in New York City, there are seven other people just like you. Network effect.
Old Terence McKenna used to say “find the others” to his little convened groups in bookstores or retreats, and “someone in this room probably has what you need,” because the people in those particular interest clouds were geographically scattered and only connected by slow long-distance pre-digital communications.
“Finding the others” is a keyword search now. Network effect is the tag cloud casting the long dark shadow over the conversation.
We’re still driving cars without having learned how to not kill people with them. Pretty much the same thing with social media.