Despite its haphazard growth, the Web hides powerful underlying regularities—from the organization of its links to the patterns found in its use by millions of users. Many of these regularities have been predicted on the basis of theoretical models based on a field of physics—statistical mechanics—that few would have thought applicable to the social domain.
One of the foremost researchers in the field, Huberman has established, for example, that the surfing patterns of individuals are describable by a precise law. Such findings can lead to more efficient Web design and use. They also shed light on social mechanisms whose significance goes beyond the Web. In this sense, the Web is a gigantic informational ecosystem that can be used to quantify and test explanations of human behavior and social interaction.