We live in a networked world, or so we are constantly told. The word 'network', which was scarcely used before the late nineteenth century, is now overused as both a verb and a noun. To the ambitious young insider, it is always worth going to the next party, no matter how late it is, for the sake of networking. Sleep may be appealing, but the fear of missing out is appalling. To the disgruntled old outsider, on the other hand, the word network has a different connotation. The suspicion grows that the world is controlled by powerful and exclusive networks: the bankers, the Establishment, the System, the Jews, the Freemasons, the Illuminati. Nearly all that is written in this vein is rubbish. Yet it seems unlikely that conspiracy theories would be so persistent if such networks did not exist at all.
- From The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook by Niall Ferguson