Segments in this Video

Disruption: Introduction (02:41)


The growth and exploitation of online social networks has resulted in the prevalence of fake news, extreme views, polarization, and information wars. Niall Ferguson will investigate the past to better understand their disruptive power.

Network Phenomena (02:12)

In April 1775, Paul Revere's warning reaches many people because of his associations. Human networks determine societal ideas and behaviors. Understanding networks is important for understanding life.

Hierarchical Structure (03:00)

Frescoes in the Palazzo Pubblico illustrate power structure; citizens connect through social networks. Top-down governing dominates history; Industrial Age corporations are also hierarchies.

Protestant Reformation (03:23)

Nearly 500 years ago, papal authority and secular rulers govern Western Europe. In 1517, Martin Luther challenges authority, utilizing print, and initiates a network revolution.

Network Theory: Universality of Networks (04:12)

Networks amplify and transmit new ideas, bringing like-minded people together. Networks are at the core of all social and biological systems and share mathematical properties.

"Seven Bridges of Königsberg" (03:21)

In the 18th century, Leonhard Euler creates the foundation of network theory when attempting to solve the mathematical problem. Albert-László Barabási explains nodes and links.

Network Theory: Birds of a Feather (04:08)

Jacob Moreno discovers the fundamental property of social networks in the 1930s; he creates the first sociogram. Friends resemble one another. Homophily remains a part of social networks.

Network Platforms (03:57)

People sort themselves into tribes when discussing controversial topics. Pilippi Menczer tracks social media activity, revealing how polarization occurs. The printing press helps religious reformation.

Network Theory: It's a Small World (05:25)

Steven Strogatz and Duncan Watts discuss cricket synchronization and six degrees of separation. A network's structure determines who gets the message and when.

Network Theory: Contagion (05:18)

Links to casual acquaintances are a vital buffer between the inner circle and wider population. All social networks are susceptible to contagions. Nicholas Christakis discusses how obesity and benign behaviors spread like a contagious disease, and free will.

Religious Reform (02:58)

Several rules of network theory apply to the Protestant Reformation. Europe enters 130 years of religious warfare and the Counter-Reformation emerges; social networks need to survive attacks.

Network Theory: Resilience (03:12)

Nodes and links must be able to rearrange after the removal of a central node. Ruth and Sebastian Ahnert discuss how the Protestant Reformation survived attacks.

Arab Spring (02:55)

Social networks are important for revolutions. The pro-democracy movement quickly spreads; Christakis explains phase transition. Good and bad ideas can go viral.

Fake News (07:15)

Scientific evidence proves that lies spread faster than truths. Luther makes false claims; witch hunts are a consequence. Persecution mania occurs throughout history. Ferguson considers the power of social networks.

Credits: Disruption (00:30)

Credits: Disruption

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Episode 1: Disruption (Niall Ferguson's Networld)

Part of the Series : Niall Ferguson’s Networld
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Host Niall Ferguson focuses on the great network revolution of our time and one that happened 500 years ago – the Protestant Reformation. With the help of experts in network theory and historical precedent, Ferguson untangles important issues including why social media networks polarize us, why some ideas go viral, and why truth itself is at a disadvantage.

Length: 55 minutes

Item#: FPT206193

Copyright date: ©2020

Closed Captioned

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