The Internet is the perfect example of what Robert Metcalfe, a founder of 3Com, called the "network effect." An unconnected phone, Metcalfe observed, is useless. Connect it to another phone, however, and both devices become significantly more useful. Keep adding phones, and the power of the network keeps growing...
...in some cases, communicating more often can even push long-distance couples apart, Guldner says. In the military, for instance, tools like satellite phones have broken down some barriers that would have better been left standing. "Technological communication can interfere with the separate worlds that people are trying to maintain," says Guldner, who spent four months as an emergency physician in Iraq. "When a soldier is pinned down in combat and his wife is at home trying to deal with a broken dishwasher, they can't really relate to one another."
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