TED Talk Tuesday: Who Controls the World?

James Glattfelder uses principles from the world of physics to explore the complexity of the global economy. It all sounds kind of geeky, but it’s intriguing nonetheless. As I listen to Glattfelder explain the way control works in this complex system, I can’t help but wonder about the potential results of similar research in the social arena.

By “social,” I’m not talking about Facebook and Twitter, but about churches, non-profits, NGOs and the like. If similar data was collected and the connections or interactions charted, would we find the social world similarly connected, or would the graph look completely different? Would United Way, the Red Cross and USAID be in the power center, or would it all point back to government superpowers and the money they are pouring into the “system”?

I don’t know the answer and I don’t have the brains or the cash to do the research, but if there’s anybody out there willing, I would love to see the results. I’m writing this today from Kenya, where thousands upon thousands of organizations are trying their best to “help,” with many doing the same things for some of the same people. My fear is that, rather than being too interconnected (like the global economic system) that the social system is too independent. I’m afraid that our connections are too weak, our power holders too aloof and our output measurements focused on all the wrong things.

I would love to see the numbers.