Book Review: Breakpoint: Why the Web will Implode, Search will be Obsolete, and Everything Else you Need to Know about Technology is in Your Brain

[This is my review, originally loaded to Librarything and Amazon, for a book by Jeff Stibel.  I gave it 3 stars out of 5.]

Breakpoint starts with a compelling analogy that, once a process has scaled to a certain point, it needs to change to reach stability. The author uses ant colonies as a comparison point throughout the text for these effects. But he also relies on his background in brain science and each chapter is presented as three ideas.

This is easy reading and well-explained. The author covers a wide variety of topics, including cloud computing in the section on cannibals, for example. This eclectic approach resembles other popular business titles at tying business or technical topics to social or anthropological ones.

He lost me at his key argument, though, on the Web reaching a breakpoint and failing (note the book’s title). While he applies his theory consistently – and proposes quasi-editorial solutions to create a “majority visits” Web – it assumes the Web is a single organism or community. It might make sense on a more narrow, consumer or corporate Web but is too simple for the complexity of types of small content worlds that exist.

The other technology areas he touches on, like social media and crowdsourcing, provide interesting examples of his breakpoint concept. I thought the part on traffic was particularly interesting and how congestion was resolved in Sweden.

While still enjoyable, the last third of the book seems to leave the concept of breakpoints and focuses more on science and technology. The discussion of linguistics and brain implants is interesting but doesn’t seem to relate to the title of the book.

This book would be suitable for buying with the intention of passing it on. The title isn’t really a good match for what you’ll find inside. As a survey of current technology – including the author’s company’s brain product – it is worth a read but it’s a short book and not necessarily one you’d return to a second time.