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…