A Small World, Betimes…
Sometimes, you learn something that reminds you that the world is indeed small.
In the aforementioned class on Networks, this week, we reviewed the idea behind “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” – and one of the readings suggested that we all know, or are fairly closely connected to, someone who knows everyone – or near enough to everyone that through that person we are in effect connected within an average of six degrees to pretty much anybody and everybody. Our proximity to such a person is part of what connects us more closely to everyone else (and such persons are apparently closely connected to other such persons, extending this network more fluidly). I don’t know that I buy the Gladwell article, but if there’s any truth to it, that’s one major flaw in my network: I don’t know anybody who knows everybody. Which means I may have trouble reaching the people I need to reach.
But even so, sometimes amazing links do pop up. For the past month-and-a-half, on Tuesdays and sometimes on Thursdays, I’ve been serving in a Grand Jury. Last week, while chit-chatting over lunch with a few fellow Jurors, I happened to mention that I’m a writer and an aspirational professional author. This was in response to one of the jurors indicating that her day job, when I asked, was as a text-book writer (she writes books on speaking English for ESL students in grad school, and she has training in linguistics and speech pathology). When I remarked that I, too, was a writer – of fiction, of course, not of text-books – she asked, “Do you know about Nanowrimo?”
Well, of course I know about Nanowrimo.
“My daughter,” my fellow juror explained, “She’s the director of Nanowrimo.”
Oh. Wow. Now that’s interesting. Suddenly I felt embarrassed that I’ve never participated in Nano, that I’ve always been too busy. Silly, of course. But a funny discovery, nonetheless.
My fellow juror went on to tell a short story about her daughter – a few sentances, I won’t recount them here – and we talked about writing. My co-juror used to write fiction, she said, but she could never get published, try and try though she might. Then, once, whe wrote a text-book, and without hardly trying she was published, and she’s been writing textbooks ever since.
I’ve been impressed with the clear intellect and awareness of this and the other co-juror involved in this conversation. They seem like smart people, people worth knowing. I hope I’ll be able to stay in contact with them, from time-to-time, after this jury term ends in a couple weeks. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have folks like that in my network…