Connectedness has brought glut. In a group of n people, the numbers of possible telephone conversations or dinner-party seating arrangements or sexual-disease transmission vectors grow combinatorially, and combinatorial growth is much faster than geometric growth; it's generally exponential, in fact. Much of the human experience (knowledge, disease) spreads by proximity, and for any one person the number of fellows in proximity has exploded. In past times, even in the most crowded city, we lived close enough to only a few people to, say, read their journals or track the temperature of their hot tubs. Now, in hordes, they put that information on line. The multiplication of information pathways leads to positive feedback effects in the nature of frenzies. The more people talk and write about the occasional mass phenomena that grab the hysterical attention of American culture-O. J. Simpson, El Niņo, Monica Lewinsky, Y2K-the more people want to hear. The more journalists hear, the more they feel able-even obliged-to keep talking and writing. As fluid pressure rises (you learn in high school physics), molecules collide faster and more often, and so the temperature rises too. Close packing and transmission speed are two sides of a coin; that is why sound travels faster through dense crystals.