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What the Heck is Metcalfe's Law?

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

A lot of times when we are learning something new and complex, the sources we are given can be wordy explanations that are difficult to understand. Sometimes, it helps to get a fresh perspective from someone who doesn't fully understand the field so that you can learn along with another person...that's where I come in!


Recently, I have been learning a lot about terms and concepts related to business analysis and the Architecture-Based Analysis (ABA) methodology utilized by 2md. Way too often, I find myself getting lost and having to ask a million questions in order to get back on track (being inquisitive is never a bad thing if it helps you understand new information!). This is partially due to the fact that I simply don't learn by reading a bunch of words from a book or article that is more advanced than where I'm at. I've found that, at least for me, it helps to have audio or visual aids as well as a unique take on the subject that may help me to relate some of the new information to my own life. The combination of these two factors with a professional description creates the perfect cocktail for my brain to digest complicated information.


My goal today is to use my own perspective and experience to hopefully shed some light on a concept that was not easy for me to comprehend when it was first explained to me: Metcalfe's Law. Additionally, I will hopefully help you to understand how this law relates to 2md and ABA as a whole. So, without further ado, let's dive in!


From my understanding of Metcalfe's Law from personal research as well as information expressed to me directly, this concept usually applies to the individual users within a given network as well as the connections that bind them together. As the number of users goes up, the connections between them increase exponentially as well. This probably doesn't make much sense yet, so let's simplify it a bit using a little diagram I created:


Visual depiction of Metcalfe's Law

In this diagram, each user is represented by a star and each connection by a jagged line. When adding a new user into the mix, you are not just adding one new connection as the amount increases exponentially with the number of users.


In order to further understand Metcalfe's Law, I related it to a situation I found myself entangled in a few years back at my university. Before I was able to graduate, I decided to study abroad as a way to finalize my minor and continue my education through exploration and real-life experience. The two months I spent in Kenya made up one of the most memorable adventures I have ever embarked on, and all would've worked out perfectly had the various departments involved in my studies fully understood how to utilize Metcalfe's Law in their favor. You see, after my return I spent months contacting various individuals involved with the program I took part in, as well as people at my university, in attempts to get my credits transferred so that I could officially graduate. There were several parties involved in these exchanges, and due to a lack of communication between one another I had an immense amount of difficulty completing what should have been a simple task. To make matters worse, I was told this was a super common issue with the study abroad department!


So, why do I tell you this story? Well, in my eyes, each individual/department that was involved in this scenario represents one star in the diagram above. Had they found an effective way to communicate with one another via the connections established, it is highly likely that I would've been able to access the information I was looking for much quicker than I had. This is precisely what 2md aims to do using both ABA and Metcalfe's Law. It is our job to try and make these connections a little clearer to the users involved in the network so that decisions and communication are as smooth and efficient as possible. When so many parties are involved, it can be extremely difficult to ensure each connection is understood and utilized properly, so having a little bit of professional help can go a long way.


Hope this helps!


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