choke point

The choke point—the Achilles heel in a dynamic system where forces of flow and resistance bottleneck—has become a notion used in a variety of contexts. For land travelers, the choke point may be a narrow defile where a path crosses a ridge at a point hemmed tightly by flanking cliffs. For hydrologists, the choke point may be a constriction in a stream channel where sedimentation builds as flow is blocked. The restless drama of such a position in stream or path has caused this term to become a metaphor attractive to military strategists, economists, and computer consultants, whereby, for example, the clog of email may threaten worker efficiency, just as a wilderness hiker may need to exhale to slip through a tight spot.

Kim Stafford