Network Effect

Tara spoke into darkness, backlit by the ivory glare of reflected projector light on a boardroom screen. A dozen executive chairs sat empty, a dozen leather portfolios unopened.

“The way our network scales successfully is, of course, determinative of its ultimate worth.”

The pitch was simple. She had made the same sale, hawked an identical package, a hundred times before. The only aspect that unnerved her this time was that she couldn’t see the people she addressed. It was remote work, this job; on location, on goals, on all typical specifics. But as a professional, Tara advanced her slide and pressed on.

“Every node we add, the power of the network grows. Deepens the level of insight we can attain. Magnifies the value of the system to you, as the data controller.”

There was disconcerting feedback, of listeners shifting and discussing in whispers, from some other room, or building, or city.

“Now here, you see, economies of scale accrue quickly once a distributed application hits a critical mass of popularity. Data collection costs - of statistical significance to be useful - shrink from marginal to effectively zero.”

A subtle orb of light at the opposite end of the darkened boardroom then gleamed, slowly and politely, from red to green. A disembodied clearing of the throat came over unseen speakers.

“Miss Neumann. We thank you but there may be some misunderstanding. We are less interested in the relative, how to say this, health of the network as its ... redirection. Or - a repurposing.”

Tara slowly placed the pointer device on the table, gnawing imperceptibly on her lip.

“My apologies. To be clear, my firm specializes in network optimization, not disruption.”

Relative terms, dear. In many ways, interchangeable ... a facet of the system’s popularity.”

The pointer, set aside, just glimmered.