AFRO-AMERICAN MUSIC INSTITUTE CELEBRATES 36 YEARS
Pain Relief Beyond Belief
The World Wide Web is a popular example of a decentralized system exhibiting emergent properties. There is no central organization rationing the number of links, yet the number of links pointing to each page follows a power law in which a few pages are linked to many times and most pages are seldom linked to. A related property of the network of links in the World Wide Web is that almost any pair of pages can be connected to each other through a relatively short chain of links. Although relatively well known now, this property was initially unexpected in an unregulated network. It is shared with many other types of networks called small-world networks.(Barabasi, Jeong, & Albert 1999, pp. 130–131)
Internet traffic can also exhibit some seemingly emergent properties. In the congestion control mechanism, TCP flows can become globally synchronized at bottlenecks, simultaneously increasing and then decreasing throughput in coordination. Congestion, widely regarded as a nuisance, is possibly an emergent property of the spreading of bottlenecks across a network in high traffic flows which can be considered as a phase transition (see review of related research in (Smith 2008, pp. 1–31)). This perspective, proposed by the physics community, however is controversial with many in the network engineering discipline, disputing a role for emergence in network traffic.
Another important example of emergence in web-based systems is social bookmarking (also called collaborative tagging). In social bookmarking systems, users assign tags to resources shared with other users, which gives rise
to a type of information organisation that emerges from this crowdsourcing process. Recent research which analyzes empirically the complex dynamics of such systems  has shown that consensus on stable distributions and a simple form of shared vocabularies does indeed emerge, even in the absence of a central controlled vocabulary.