What’s in it for me? Get a broad overview of the history of networks, from Gutenberg to Trump.

Opening up a newspaper or switching on the TV can be an overwhelming experience these days. Finding the common thread that runs through the patchwork of today’s complex and seemingly chaotic events is a tricky business.

After all, what on earth could the Arab Spring, the use of targeted Facebook ads to swing a referendum in the United Kingdom and the plots of international terrorist cells have in common?

In a word, networks. Whether you’re a global trader or just a casual Twitter user, chances are you’re hooked into a network that uses technology to share information and spread ideas.

In the age of Brexit and Trump, such networks may seem utterly contemporary. But, as Niall Ferguson shows in this sweeping study of networks, what we’re experiencing now is only the most recent – and chaotic – act in a play as old as Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press.

From the Reformation’s attack on Catholic dogma to the Enlightenment and the dissident groups of Communist Poland, networks have long driven historical change. Just as they are today, they’ve always been powered by technological innovation and, as they do today, they’ve always acted as vectors for radical new ideas.

In these blinks, you’ll learn

  • how the printing press created a network that changed the face of Europe forever;
  • how the British built a global empire by making use of existing networks; and
  • Why Donald Trump’s use of Twitter helped him beat Hillary Clinton.