Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: Spreading through networks

The theory that everyone in the world is six friendships away from everyone else is regarded by many as a myth. So what happens when the theory is put to the test? The thought that all 6.9 billion people on the planet could be closely connected to one another through their network of friends has a long-held fascination. For decades, scientists have tried to prove that the world is made up of social networks that are ultimately interconnected.

And that's before you include Social Networking which can join up more dots, though in experiments I'd have to exclude a small proportion of my facebook friends who I've never actually met. In British Evangelicalism I reckon it's probably less than four degrees required - in theory two pastors and two UCCF staff could connect most of us. That's what networks do! Things like The Gospel Coalition: In The City further join things up... so too New Word Alive, Together for the Gospel, the regional gospel partnerships, the Newfrontiers family, FIEC etc. The value of networks is why I'm involved in Newfrontiers Bloggers and UCCF Bloggers. Orange say: "I am who I am because of everyone..." - perhaps not a sufficient description but my relationships with God and his people certainly say a lot about me, and define a lot of what I can do with my life.
The thought-provoking BBC Documentary Six Degrees of Separation (available on iPlayer til May 19th) says that the key to networks is hubs, whether through the internet, the spread of sexually transmitted infections or computer viruses. It's an interesting angle in applied mathematics.
Networks certain holds for the internet. I experienced that when hub-blogger Challies picked up my post about The Wayne Grudem Song in February 2008, suddenly over 1000 new hits in a day... In my own small corner this blog acts as something of a hub, particularly now it's hooked in through Twitter to 1200+ facebook friends and 190 tweeters. As you can work out, I think social networking is a good thing to be embraced. Why not? The 10,000 visits here a month is really miniscule compared to the traffic flowing through evangelical hubs like Between Two Worlds, Challies and Adrian Warnock.
On the subject of hubs flagging stuff up, do checkout the youtube novel Peter Morris by Daniel Szabo. He's my friend and I really think you'll be entertained. And maybe someone will notice enough to publish him.
Then we have Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll and increasingly Newfrontiers looking at the importance of planting into cities - hubs of cultures from which further progress for the gospel can be made, defended from this kind of sociology but also from Paul's strategy in Acts. One could pursue this through targetting other key groups in society (such as students) which seems to have some merit as an approach, though the gospel has a way of defying those who try to be too clever and strategic. Somehow we want to break out of our own small worlds into the closed networks of other people. Big worlds can be made small. On the one hand networks and hubs are important, on the other hand the Father send his son to be born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth...

1 comment:

  1. Hey,

    You will like this: Tribes is the future of networks says Godin? What do you think?