Chris J Powell

Geek Laws…the fundamentals that every Geek should be familiar with

A quick shout out to Stacy Higginbotham over at Gigaom for compiling this list, but for me…I felt the need put a little bit of the Krispy Bits in there.  For those of us who call ourselves Geeks, there are a few fundamental laws that we probably have heard of and understand but with these 10 immutable laws that drive and define the world of Geeks, this list will help to center you and not define you but guide you.


1. Amdahl’s Law: Named after the Computer Architect Gene Amdahl we leverage this concept to examine what the maximum improvement to an overall system can be achieved by changing only one part.  It is Amdahl’s Law that keeps my 8 Core Super Computer that sits next to me from running fully 4 times faster than the Dual Core that I built 8 years ago.  Now this is actually not a bad thing because capacity and efficiency are not the same thing.

2. Brooks’ Law: While Fred Brooks was addressing Software Design when he stated “Adding people to a late software project just makes it later.”  I actually had this debate yesterday with one of my clients and it is always a beautiful thing when you find out that there is an defining moment that a core principle can be applied.  For me I think that Brook’s Law can really be applied to any situation or project and should be placed on equal footing as say Newton’s Law???

3. Godwin’s Law: Ah yes…the defining moment that looks to the inevitable degradation of any “UseNet” or for that matter “Internet” conversation to spin off into a debate about Hitler and Nazi’s.  I remember this one from the 1990’s when I was first introduced to UseNet…You know what…I now have a mission…watch out Facebook Friends…this weekend I will strive to turn 100 threads and posts into a conversation about 1930’s and 40’s Nazi Germany.

4. The Jevons Paradox: Not quite a full blown law but when we look to the insight provided by English Economist William Stanley Jevons who stated back in 1865 that when improvements in technology make it possible to use a fuel more efficiently, consumption tends to go up…so if we look at this, then an army of SmartCars and Hybrids hitting the road will lead to a more efficient miss use of our Oil Reserves…damn it…I am going back to my SUV!!!

5. Marconi’s Law: There is nothing better than turn of the century logic of building it bigger will solve every problem but for Guglielmo Marconi and his visionary world without wires this was exactly the case when he stated: “the maximum signaling distance of a given device will vary as the square of the height of the antenna” now does this take Satellite transmissions of radio broadcasts into the equation…or how about how tall a Cell Tower would need to be to provide effective coverage across the Atlantic Ocean….hmmm.

6. Metcalfe’s Law: The inventor of Ethernet Robert Metcalfe built upon the Network Effect that effectively states that the value of a network is determined by the number of users on the network.  Now I can see this…if a person with no followers Tweets…does anyone here it or a Facebook Page with no Friends have any relevance…or in my case…if you Blog It an no one comes…does anyone care…oh man…I am thinking that I am not a real fan of this Metcalfe guy.

7. Moore’s Law:  Gordon Moore has given us probably the most widely used “Geek Law” of them all when he defined that the number of transistors on a chip will double every 18 months and give or take some slight variations this has held true for nearly 5 decades…that is impressive.

8. Ohm’s Law: German Engineer Georg Simon Ohm identified that the voltage applied to a conductor had a direct relationship on its current.  Now considering that this finding dates back to 1827, but it was this insight and the continued development of the concept that has led to nearly every technical and Geeky discovery since as it is electricity that powers all of our gadgets.

9. Shannon’s Law: As the father of Information theory there is little dispute that Claude Shannon earned the right to pen a law when he define a bit.  But as our technology advances at an ever faster pace, we are coming up against the wall that he defined as “the maximum rate at which ERROR Free data transfer can occur” so as our “SmartPhone are adapting to 4G speeds…is there an end in sight where we can expect to see a shift in either the Wireless Technology itself or in the expectations that we have for our mobile devices?

10. Zuckerberg’s Law: While I promised myself that I would try to avoid propping up the ego of Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, it is hard to dispute the fact that since he stated “I expect people to share twice as much information this year, and next year they will be sharing twice as much as the year before” well…Mark…you were right and well I have to give credit where credit is due.


That is if for me, I must head off to the world of work.


Chris J Powell

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