Hierarchical structures such as states dominate our understanding of history. But even as rulers asserted their power from the towers of palaces, real power often resided in the town squares below, within constantly shifting networks of people. The age of the world wide web has illuminated the power of networks but, Niall Ferguson argues, this is an age-old phenomenon. The tension between rigid hierarchies and fluid, informal webs of interconnection has been a defining, if misunderstood, driver of change and disruption throughout modern history. Are there historical analogies to the rise of today’s online social networks? What does history teach about the ability of networks to overcome established hierarchies?
Copies of Niall Ferguson's new book The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power from the Freemasons to Facebook will be available for sale and signing after the program.
Background reading and multimedia:
- Can Silicon Valley Save the World? Or are Social Networks Ruining Everything?
Niall Ferguson, Big Think, January 26, 2018
- The Secret to Henry Kissinger's Success
Niall Ferguson, POLITICO, January 20 2018
- Networks and Hierarchies in the Trump Era: An Interview with Niall Ferguson
Davis Richardson, Observer, January 15, 2018
- Niall Ferguson's 'The Square and the Tower' is a History of Rebels
David Marquand, Financial Review, December 25, 2017