Tutorial: Information Elites

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Welcome to the Information Elite Tutorial.

Note: in order to run the dynamic simulations referred to in this tutorial, go here, to the Java Applet version. You will be directed to download the latest version of the Java plug-in.

This tutorial is a demonstration of results obtained in the paper, "Communication Networks and the Rise of an Information Elite," by Marshall van Alstyne and Eric Brynjolfsson. The paper and this tutorial exist in parallel and complement each other. It is not necessary to have read the paper in order to understand the tutorial, however technical details and discussions will generally be omitted here. In order to gain a more precise understanding of the models used, please refer to the paper, which is available at:


Users who are interested in these simulations are encouraged to construct and observe their own societies using our main simulator. It is by varying assumptions to change the behavior of the system that true understanding can progress.


  1. Introduction
    1. Increasing Access to Information Resources
    2. Assumptions About Information Interactions
  2. Modeling a Society
    1. The Society Model: Static Properties
  3. Access and Stratification
    1. The Effect of Access on Connections
    2. Increasing Stratification
  4. Access and the Winner-Take-All Market
    1. Increasing Access can Increase Connection Probability
    2. Increasing Access creates a Winner-Take-All Market
  5. Observing a Society Through Time
    1. The Society Model: Dynamic Properties
    2. Network Members Become Similar Over Time
    3. Networks Diverge Over Time
  6. The Importance of Sharing in Knowledge Growth
    1. Sharing Rate Strongly Influences Knowledge Endowment Over Time
  7. A Network of Connections is a Valuable Resource
    1. The Importance of Who You Know
    2. Network Determines Long-Run Knowledge
  8. Conclusion
    1. Closing Remarks

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