The “Network Effect”

AlexanderGrahamBellI would love to have been there when Alexander Graham Bell experienced his great “a-ha” moments. His first “a-ha” might have gone something like this, “Oh no. . . I gotta make two of these things!” Can you then picture Al showing off the first pair of telephones to friends and dignitaries who ask the questions, “Do you have to have two phones and a different set of wires for each person you speak to? Where are you going to run the wires? What do you mean, ‘switchboard’?”

Recently I was speaking with a friend who likened Logos Bible Software to the Amazon Kindle and the Sony e-Reader. His point was that we all represented similar abilities to read digital books. Our new iPhone app reinforced his analogy. I pointed out that his perspective was only true to a point. E-book readers have much in common with printed books: They are convenient, hand-held, self-contained, and portable. They are little more than a book that runs on batteries. They go beyond the printed book by serving as vending machines for additional books. But while they have some endearing features, they still only represent basic paper book utility: reading words on pages. With Logos Bible Software, reading words on pages is just the beginning.

Just as the utility of a telephone increases relative to the number of other telephones it is connected to, the value of each Logos book increases relative to the number of books and data sets it references. Logos books are worth more than 100% of the paper book utility. The quantity and quality of explicitly “tagged” links along with word, phrase, topic, and reference links and the sheer size of the Logos Bible Software formatted book count create a network effect dramatically superior to the utility of any individual or collection of stand-alone digital books. Stand-alone digital books are the raw ingredients of Logos Bible Software, not the end product.

A commentary linked to a Bible, linked to a dictionary, linked to an atlas, linked to each of the other books in the library offers a multiplier network effect to the value of every single book. Every combination of books is greater than the sum of the books. The network effect is seen clearly in telephones, radio, TV, Facebook, the human genome, and yes, Logos Bible Software.

One way of measuring this network effect is Metcalfe’s law:

Metcalfe’s law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2). . . . Metcalfe’s law characterizes many of the network effects of communication technologies and networks such as the Internet, social networking, and the World Wide Web.

And I would suggest it also applies to linked books in the Logos Bible Software.

Let x equal the value of one book. Linked together in a network,

  • Two books = 4x
  • Three books = 9x
  • Four books = 16x

A thousand–volume Logos Bible Software Library has the utility of a million stand-alone resources and the convenience of your desktop, laptop, or your iPhone/iPad!