Friday, January 07, 2005

Preview of Coming Attractions: "Six Degrees" by Prof. Duncan J. Watts

Thanks to the recommendations of several friends and fellow denizens of this Blogsphere, I have just started reading Six Degrees - The Science of a Connected Age. I can't put it down. Within the next few days, I will offer some extended observations about the emergence of the science of networking and its application to the worlds that I inhabit. But I did not want to wait until I had finished the book before making you aware of this tremendous resource. Duncan J. Watts, a Professor at Columbia University, published this work in 2003. Already, less than 100 pages into this very readable monograph, I have found many insights that help me to understand how networks operate.

Here is a sample from the book that addresses an issue I wrote about in a posting earlier this week - Some Meta-thoughts on Blogging – “A Marketplace Where Many Diverse Ideas Meet for Coffee!”

from "Six Degrees" - p. 67:

. . . this is where people like sociologists come in. Because they have spent their lives studying the social world, they actually know a thing or two about how it works, and their insight is an indispensible element of any useful model.

As obvious as this last point may seem, it is endlessly surprising to most pysicists, who rarely feel the need to consult anyone before appropriating their problem. That will have to change if we want to make any real progress. Academics are a fractious bunch, rarely inclined to step across the boundaries of their disciplines for more than a polite hello. But in the world of networks, sociologists, economists, mathematicians, computer scientists, biologists, engineers, and physicists all have something to offer each other and much to learn."

Amen! I could not agree more. In my experience, things really start to get interesting when individuals from disparate backgrounds, world views and networks begin to interact with one another. This is the principle reason for the existence of this Blog as a catalyst to encourage more such collaboration and cross-fertilization.

Stay tuned for additional response and reactions to the ideas that Dr. Watts lays out in this seminal work.


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