I've been reading Malcolm Gladwell's book, The Tipping Point. I realize I'm about ten years late to the party, but it's an amazing book. In chapter two he talks about Connectors. These are people that are highly networked. To test if you are a Connector, he provides a list of 250 surnames. You go through the list and give yourself a point if you know someone by that same name. So, for instance, for Alvarez you might score 2 and for Smith you might score 13. I scored about a 50 overall. Others have scored anywhere between 2-90. It's a fascinating game to play.
I'm constantly forming connections now, trying to connect people, places, and things together through circuitous routes. It's kind of like playing 6 Degrees to Kevin Bacon with yourself (Which is based on an old experiment by Stanley Milgram that you can read here).
I was in Bartlesville, Oklahoma this past weekend and began to think about all the ways I might be connected to Bartlesville.
#1I have a neighbor and co-worker named Monica Mullins. Monica's sister-in-law is an editor for the Paris Review. The Paris Review is art directed by Charlotte Strick who invited me to a guest lecture by Elaine Lustig-Cohen. Elaine was married to Alvin Lustig, a famous mid-century designer. Alvin was an apprentice at the Taliesin Fellowship which was the school/internship program of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright's only skyscraper is in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
Obviously there may be shorter routes, but it's fun to take the long way home, so to speak.
#2I go to church with a Mr. Bill Malone. He once gave me a book about the Taliesin Fellowship (which, as shown before, connects to Bartlesville, but let's take another route). Bill Malone is the brother-in-law of George B Wint, a water-colorist of El Reno, Oklahoma. George and Joyce Roberts of Elk City both attended First Baptist Church, El Reno. Joyce knows Ron Henderson of Weatherford who knows Jeani Copeland from Seminole, who is married to Mike Copeland, who is from Bartlesville. Mike Copeland and I, along with Bill Malone, all attend University Baptist Church in Shawnee.
So, there are nearly unlimited paths to connecting any two things, and they aren't one-way streets. Other routes also spring to mind: Monica and Joyce, mentioned earlier, can also be connected through longtime SWOSU campus minister Jim Morrison (not of the Doors). And ultimately my parents become huge connectors, as my mother baby-sat for Joyce and my father was taught watercolor technique by George Wint, among many other connections.
What I find as I play these games is that there are certain people, Connectors as Gladwell would call them, that become hubs for social connections. Joyce Roberts is a primary connector for me; as she connects many disparate parts of life together. She connects three of my primary social pockets: El Reno, Hinton, and much of my far-western Oklahoma Network.
Connectors seem to have these characteristics in common:
- They've lived in several different places.
- The nature of their job (education, ministry, etc.) affords much interpersonal interaction.
- There is something innately attractive and contagious about their personality.