It’s A Small World After All – We’re All In This Together!
Everyone has had an experience of that “small world” feeling when you discover that someone that you’ve only just met knows someone you know, or in some cases seemingly everyone you know. Applying six degree principles has been at the forefront of my mind as it relates to Covid-19. Specifically I’ve been wondering how we can turn the tide in our favor by using small world principles.
Uncovering just how connected we truly are has been on my mind since the mid-90s when I started to informally bring together women to have critical conversations on specific topics centered around their small businesses. The group of women came to be known as the Women in Small Biz, now named Women’s EmPOWERment Marketplace. At first the group resembled a coffee klatch, but within a short time the women began referring business to one another and tens of thousands of dollars of referral opportunities were being exchanged serving 5,000+ women, and bold men too.
Along the way I discovered the paradigm of six degrees of separation as well as synchronicity. The Science of Networks Professor, Steve Strogatz, uncovered that the phenomenon synchronicity played an intrinsic role in connectivity. He asked himself two questions: “How can a population of dissimilar individuals suddenly synchronize? How can a planet of billions really be connected?” From the intricate synaptic connections in your brain to the heart’s ability to synchronize in order to produce a heartbeat, it turns out connections are required.
Duncan Watts, another mathematician and researcher, devoted his life to the research of synchronicity. Together Watts and Strogatz studied snowy tree crickets as they began investigating synchronicity. Essentially, they discovered that these crickets were behaving as a group, but who was listening? Which cricket was the leader? They discovered the intricate structure of the networks and have concluded that it is the hubs that are critical to the network’s survival.
Hubs, like Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook, etc., have become critical to the internet, but even more important to social networks. Is it possible that six degrees of separation has been reduced to two to three connections or steps instead? Individuals who act like hubs are also reducing the number of steps to link folks to the outside world – globally, regionally, and nationally.
Strogantz and Watts wanted to prove their theory. In the mid-90s, college students created a game that turned out to be coined Six Degrees of Separation of Kevin Bacon. A few random link shrinks connections to about three or four: real evidence that small worlds do exist. Watts says, “Invisible links make the world small.” (Connected Power of Six Degrees Science)
Significance of Hubs
Hungarian scientists Albert Aslow, and Isaac Asimov asked, “What can I do to predict the future – the structure and the behavior of the network?” Events depend on one another. Data studied was on the World Wide Web, tracing links and growth of web pages. The distribution did not follow a random bell curve; most had very few links and a very few had tens of thousands of links – the hubs. It seemed to have an organizing principle of organization.
Watts shared Kevin Bacon data finding hubs in Hollywood. Watts’ hunch suggests a deeper truth. Hubs evolve according to some pattern from within the human cell to telecommunications. He and Strogatz broke it down to a simple formula and concluded that networks have both strengths and weaknesses. Cells have tens of thousands of errors, but they function nonetheless. If you remove the hubs, the system will fall apart. Watts concludes: “Society – certain people, are much more connected to others than the rest of us.”
Although I wrote much of what is above years ago, it occurs to me that we might be able to change the impact coronavirus is having on our world by lessening its impact through educating the public. Can we identify hubs and people who act as hubs to spread important public health information more quickly than is currently occurring?
What if we had a press pack, PDF files to download signs, approved social cards, etc., with the same message. Would it be possible to educate the larger audience that needs the key public health messages? Without global buy-in as to what needs to be done, we may lose more lives.
Do you consider yourself a hub? Together we can make a difference by offering to do our part to spread approved public health information.
It’s a small world, you make a difference. Take action! We’re all in this together.
Just a few thoughts from me to you.