June 28, 2005
Connectivity - Along A Different Dimension
I was recently invited to join LinkedIn - the internet version of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. You join, and are connected to trusted members that you know. As you invite other trusted friends to join your connectivity increases dramatically. Right now, just 10 days after joining, my extended network includes just under 2 million people. It's an interesting sociological experiment that may end up having a lot of benefit - it's too early to judge.
My LinkedIn experience started me thinking about connectivity along the time dimension. After all LinkedIn only connects you in the current moment - to other people you know right now. But what about people that you used to know, or your ancestors and their connections?
For example, my grandparents - all four of them - were born towards the end of the 1880's. During my lifetime I had the opportunity to talk to all four grandparents, and to share a lot of time and experiences with some of them. They had a tremendous impact on my life - in some ways more than my parents did. Through them, especially through my memories of them, I can reach back across more than a century to connect to literally another time and place.
What was life like for them? How did they survive without cars, telephones, radio, television, jet aircraft - or even aircraft of any type? My paternal grandparents were stationed on an indian reservation in Montana for several years. To get there they rode the train - a steam locomotive - from Washington, D.C. for days until they reached Helena, then took a stage coach and wagon out to the reservation. I think about their journey everytime I hop on a plane and jet to California or Hawaii from Japan.
President Roosevelt in San Francisco - May, 1903
It seems obvious that change is constantly happening around us and to us. My life, my surroundings, the equipment and tools I use, the people I communicate with, are drastically different than the world my grandparents lived in. Yet, we consistently fall into the trap of assuming that things will remain the same.