I recently presented at the McMaster University World Congress of Innovation on the topic of social computing at Bell Canada. You can read about it on Martin's blog.
In this presentation, I discussed a recent episode of Dateline that examined the theory of "6 Degrees of Separation" and how they randomly took people from around the world and demonstrated they were connected through a series of people (a social network). Over and over, people have been demonstrating this phenomenon to support the theory. An interesting point from a collaboration & innovation perspective is it means that ANY piece of data, ANY piece of insight, ANY piece knowledge or creative thought is ONLY 6 steps away from me. If one could harness this, imagine the breakthroughs!!!
But that's the question isn't it? How does one navigate this social network?
Well one answer is that you don't. Instead let the path come to you. You can open it up to the world and let the millions of people come to you. Theory only? Absolutely not. Pick up Don Tapscott's most recent book, "Wikinomics" and you'll read several examples of this. Good, Bad or Indifferent, those barriers that enabled the few to control the message has shifted in new and evocative ways.