Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Topologically (contrived opportunistically) connected social networks: rethinking epistemic bubbles and their possible breaking 2

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on July 15, 2017

This is my second posting to a short series on the potential enabling roles that change and non-systematic encounters can play in effective social networking in general, and business-oriented social networking in particular (see Part 1.)

I begin this discussion with a brief outline of where this series comes from, as offering a proposed social networking counterpart to a higher level functional-organizational process that is observed in complex genetic systems: topologically associated domains, or TADs. My social networking counterpart to this phenomenon is termed here, topologically (or contrived opportunistically) connected social networking, and I loosely defined it in Part 1 as:

• Networking in an opportunistically arising context where people come together for perhaps transiently shared reasons and for perhaps transiently shared purpose.
• The important point here, in keeping with the basic organizing paradigm of the genetic systems TAD, is that this takes place in recurring contexts and even in readily predictably recurring ones, that would not fit the more usual predictable goals-oriented patterns that planned and intentional networking is usually carried out in, where many and even most participants come together in order to pursue specific types of networking and related activity. But the contexts that this form of networking take place in are recurring, as are the widened range of demographics that become involved.

I suggested in Part 1 that this represents a form of networking opportunity that is most open and available to open networkers, and particularly to those who look for opportunity from novel and unexpected directions, and who are willing to reach out to and network outside of their usual circles. Topological networking is not for the faint of heart, or the shy and uncertain. It is for the more extroverted and for those who are willing to take the risk of speaking with strangers and even continuing the conversations so started.

And this brings me to the points that I would add to this brief narrative in this second installment posting:

• When you limit your networking to the known and familiar, you are unlikely to find the disruptively new and novel, and either for insight or opportunity. You are more likely to just hear and see and learn of the already known and the at-most marginally new and different.
• People you know might occasionally share the completely unexpected, but even there this is most likely to only happen if they have connected outside of their usual circles – unless it is to share word with you of an event or development that you would learn of any way through the news or other more generally available channels.
• You are more likely to learn of the new and unexpected from people outside of your usual circle, where the same news and information tends to circle around. And this definitely holds true for new and unexpected that you would not, in effect automatically learn of anyway.

Topological, or contrived opportunistically connecting networking opportunity – coupled with a willingness to actually pursue such opportunity, can open doors and create functional, useful connections that would otherwise be invisible, and as such go untapped. And this brings me to the tag line title for this posting: “rethinking epistemic bubbles and their possible breaking.”

Last year, I wrote a brief posting to this blog on the basis of a talk that I had just given, about how we have come to speak past each other at closest, rather than with each other and certainly in our politics. See Thinking Through the Words We Use in Our Political Monologs. That became a first installment to a series that I have been adding to in recent months, about politics in America leading up to and since the 2016 United States elections (see Social Networking and Business 2, postings 244 and loosely following.) And I first began using the term epistemic in this type of missed and blocked communications context in Part 4 of that series.

In a fundamental sense, what I am doing here in this brief series is to offer with a perhaps too erudite sounding label, a possible way out of the impasse that is inherent to the epistemic barriers and epistemic bubbles of that series; I have been writing this series in terms of business networking but I have been writing it with wider ranging networking and communicating and information and perspective sharing context in mind, than would be included in business oriented networking alone.

Active, contrived opportunistically connected social networking means, or at least should mean intentionally reaching out beyond the usual and familiar and even in potentially uncomfortable directions, where you might hear and see perspectives that are contrary to your current beliefs and opinions – as that can be the only way to see beyond them, or see your own automatic assumptions in them. And it can be the only way to break through the epistemic bubble walls that you are in, and make contact with anyone on the other side.

I began this two posting series in a business context but with this larger context in mind and end it there, at least for now.

You can find this and related postings at Social Networking and Business 2, and also see that directory’s Page 1.


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