Ideas And Their Six Degrees Of Separation

Quick Read: Ideas, like people, could be said to have their own “6 Degrees of Separation” i.e., any idea in the world can potentially be related to another idea in the world with a maximum of 6 connections. And if this hypothesis is right, it can have major implications on marketing. 

What are you thinking right now? This comic by Richard McGuire appeared in 1990.

Richard McGuire(What Are You Thinking Right Now, Richard McGuire. Source)

While it is a wonderful comic and a fun reflection on how we think, for me it is a brilliant work that manages to encapsulate within the confines of a comic panel – the interconnectedness of our thoughts and ideas.

Speaking of which, just as this theory that any two people in the world can be connected to each other with a maximum of 6 steps, my hypothesis is that:

Any two ideas in the world can be related to each other in less than or equal to 6 degrees of separation. 

In other words, if you think of each idea as a node, I contend that you could potentially connect any two nodes in the “idea universe” with a maximum of 6 connections.

(One way of proving this could be as a corollary of the 6 Degrees of People Separation and mixing it with the notion that ideas make a man. And voila! You can have even a far right capitalist ideology being related to a far left communist ideology within 6 degrees of separation.)

people-exchanging-ideas-26061929(Ideas and connections, stock image)

Why is this fascinating? If the hypothesis is proven right, it can potentially have two major implications on how ideas can be sold.

Implication #1: 

Let’s take Recommendation Engines, the intelligence behind “If you like this, you might also like these” kind of recommendations that you see on Amazon

A good recommendation engine – in search, videos, online shopping, travel etc.,  has far reaching implications in delivering more relevant content to users, thereby driving sales and growing retention within the platform. In fact, as per many accounts, some companies have even gone so far as to realign their business objectives in light of recommender-driven demand, such as Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft, Disney and Apple.

Now, what if we abstract this concept of “six degrees of ideas’ separation” into an iterative, machine learning algorithm that can build up, in real time, a user’s idea map – i.e., a construct that maps out the interconnectedness of user’s ideas?

We can then perhaps use it as the back bone of a more powerful recommendation engine.

So instead of dishing out nearly hard coded, precedent based recommendations – with imperfect results –  what if the smart logic embedded in the recommendation engine can rapidly learn, iterate and replicate my idea map resulting in recommendations that almost feel like – mind reading?

That’s when I might be able to see breathtakingly personalised assortment of search results, advertisements, content and retail options appear in front of me almost at the speed (and diversity) of my thought.

Implication #2: 

Given that any of my existing ideas can potentially be connected to other ideas – and thereby products – out there, having an insight about my idea map can potentially help you sell me a new product/service. How?

By carefully structuring your sales pitch in a way that takes me gently through the different related nodes from my existing ‘idea state’ to a new ‘idea state’ that could probably help me better relate to your product.

Easier said than done, I am sure. But the outcomes here could be as thrilling as they could be scary – a signpost of every major scientific advancement over the last few decades.

On a related note..

If you enjoy the creative process of discovering and connecting disparate ideas into an insightful whole, check out Seenapse.

Seenapse

A creative technology start-up, Seenapse is an ‘inspiration engine’ that assists in your creative process by exposing you to non-obvious idea associations between seemingly disparate concepts. It is currently in a closed beta but you can get an invite by using the code: strandsofgenius. (source)

(Featured image source. H/T Austin Kleon for the riff on Richard McGuire and Faris Yakob on Seenapse)

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PS: This is my 100th blog post on BrandedNoise which got its 2020th subscriber today! A big thank you to all the readers out there who have been the source of my strength, inspiration and support. Looking forward to many more blog posts to come and a journey fuelled by creativity, curiosity and fun. A big thank you once again!!

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13 thoughts on “Ideas And Their Six Degrees Of Separation

  1. Such a fascinating article as always. Especially that seenapse blerp at the end. I’ve never even heard of it …except when i studied Carl Jung…
    Really brings new meaning to Collective Consciousness.

    Watch as the wheel goes round and round. For truly there is nothing new under the sun… 🙂

  2. Very interesting hypotheses. I recently wrote a very brief post about recommendation engines that you might like: https://medium.com/philosophy-logic/e79173882fda

    Also, thank you very much for mentioning Seenapse. We’re very excited about the possibilities of the tool once we open to the general public and therefore have a lot more users contributing their mental associations.

    Congrats on your two milestones! Look forward to keep on reading your blog.

    • Thank you Rafael. Your post is super interesting – thanks for sharing – I loved how you connected the Ouroboros to recommendation engines and more so how you positioned Seenapse (and what it stands for) almost as an antidote for the automation of recommendation engines. Totally loved it.

      I love the idea of Seenapse and somehow feel it has stupendous potential. Shall keep checking that out, I’m sure I’d find interesting connections that I could use for my writing too. All the very best again on such a fabulous venture and hope to see it going places. While also taking people minds, places 🙂

  3. Chaitanya,
    Truly brilliant layout/visuals!

    The concept of associations is too often relegated to shrinks’ offices. This powerful tool is vastly underutilized in arenas like sales, conflict resolution, and creative problem-solving. That being said, how viable do you think associative recommendation engines really are?

  4. Pingback: Ideas And Their Six Degrees Of Separation | Ameya Khandekar

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