Social Origins of Good Ideas
March 2nd, 2007

Ronald Burt pointed out the importance of “structural holes” — those nodes (people) that connect networks. If I know person A and person B and person A and B ought to know each other, but don’t, I am occupying a “structural hole” in their intersecting social networks, and making that introduction could create social capital for me as well as them. Substitute “idea” for “person.” This is where I live and why I hang out online for no really well-defined purpose. Burt’s paper is a 58 page PDF.

This paper is about social structure defining an advantage in creating good ideas, and people reproducing the social structure as they discuss their ideas. The hypothesis is that people who live in the intersection of social worlds are at higher risk of having good ideas.


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