Assuming there is any value at all

Commentary — ZDNet is mentioning a research from Andrew Odlyzko and Benjamin Tilly, which argues that Metcalfe’s Law and Reed’s law are overly optimistic (researchers’ paper).

The two researchers suggest a new law, based on George Zipf‘s observations on population distributions, and on the assumption that value follows population:

A network’s value varies like n*log(n), rather than n^2 (Metcalfe) or 2^n (Reed).

The rational behind all these researches leave me in awe. I mean, these are worthless gadgets for clueless decision makers who need to justify even more clueless decisions. Moreover, they are specifically taught as such, to those who ask for the justification, as well as to those who provide it.

The term value is probably the most meaningless there is. Even the set of “scientists” whose main focus is to argue on what is valuable and in explaining why — whereas John Keynes himself reportedly wrote economy was merely psychology — cannot even agree on how to define the term.

Likewise, we get this 11-page research paper from IT researchers, which deals with the value of networks, with no less than 80 occurrences of the word value, and where the term is not defined once.

In the end, as Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen puts it:

“Many idle controversies involving the nature of expectation could be avoided by recognizing at the outset that man’s conscious actions are the reflection of his beliefs and of nothing else.”