From 1983 I have been involved in computer networks. I first started connecting Wang mini computers to a big Cyber3 at Melbourne University, to exchange Census data with a statistics program there. In 1983 we bought an IBM personal computer and downloaded the statistics software to that instead. Then we added a computer to the library, and then we started a network.

I have connected computer networks for the Councils in Alice Springs, was a web pioneer and entrepreneur in 1993 building content management systems for publishers and industry associations. The stuff we were doing in the nineties became the social media networks of the noughties.

This really is a case where life has imitated art, commerce has adapted to the technology, which was invented out of the imagination of the pioneers.

Bob Metcalfe

The inventor of the Ethernet, Bob Metcalfe, taught me a lot about networking. He sold the advantages of Ethernet, over IBM’s then dominant token ring approach, by handing around his credit card – yes, I have held Bob Metcalfe’s credit card! (but then so have thousands of other IT journalists). Only the person holding the credit card could speak. It made for a ery awkward conversation and a very effective demonstration. That, he said, is the token in the token ring approach.

(Ethernet works like a normal conversation, anyone can ask to speak at any time and if the recipient is ready to listen they indicate that before the conversation begins.)

As well as inventing the networking protocol that forms the basis of most computer networks, he defined a law governing the value of computer networks.

Metcalfe’s Law

The value of the network is proportional to the square of the number of users on it. Everytime you add a new user, there is a potentially new conversation with every person already on the network.

This has been the remarkable power of the Internet.

This is the power of social media.

The Ebono Institute has always gravitated towards networks of businesses to amplify the impact that each business has.

The Generator started as a radio show on a local community radio station but through The Community Radio Network, became a weekly environmental news service around the country and a news feed for a range of newspapers.

The One Stop Green Shop was a retail outlet that helped many small businesses reach a bigger market.

The Green Building Centre is a current project focused on building services.

We are talking to vegetarian and vegan food growers, processors and retailers about using networking to promote food that is gentle on the planet.

Talk to us about how networks can amplify your energy.