Filed under: Experience
I’ve been ruminating on complex systems science and the small world theories of Duncan Watts for a while now since falling in love with their elegance and potential after watching the documentary How Kevin Bacon Cured Cancer ( you can watch it here)
Here is my delicious file on network thinking: http://delicious.com/katiechatfield/network
What got me started? What did I fall in love with?
- the notion that everything is much more interconnected than we thought
- the idea of mapping the amount of nodes you need in a system before you achieve synchronicity
- like: how few mobile phones do you need in a football stadium before anyone can instantly pass a message to any other person?
- the democratisation of where trends start and how information flows
- the hierarchical top down notion of Gladwell’s Tipping Point theory strikes me as having very little rigour and a lovely fairytale of post facto rationalisation
- I’ve worked in industries that trade on the currency of cool…but I’m much more interested in the architecture of effectiveness
In 2006 Duncan co wrote a paper Influentials, Networks, and Public Opinion Formation:
A central idea in marketing and diffusion research is that influentials—a minority of individuals who influence an exceptional number of their peers—are important to the formation of public opinion. Here we examine this idea, which we call the “influentials hypothesis,” using a series of computer simulations of interpersonal influence processes. Under most conditions that we consider, we find that large cascades of influence are driven not by influentials but by a critical mass of easily influenced individuals. Although our results do not exclude the possibility that influentials can be important, they suggest that the influentials hypothesis requires more careful specification and testing than it has received.
A key finding of the paper is:
Large-scale changes in public opinion are not driven by highly influential people who influence everyone else but rather by easily influenced people influencing other easily influenced people.
Since writing this paper Watts has become a principal research scientist at Yahoo! Research, where he directs the Human Social Dynamics group. The presentation above show some of the Big Seed thinking he is developing there and my favourite (well apart from the notion of ‘mullet strategy’) is this juiciness:
- Bad news is that complexity of influence networks means we can’t predict either what will succeed, or who will make it succeed
- Good news is that we don’t need to….
…and so this this is how I get to my thinking around ‘curating resonant agents‘:
- A resonant agent is a stakeholder that is easily influenced to take action on your message
- Curating is partly Watt’s notion of “DIY Influentials’- promote those who promote you- but more active than merely recognising them and using them as part of your broadcast/ blogger outreach strategy.
- Curating is about creating experiences for resonance. It’s about Kurt Lewin’s wonderful equation:
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