The significance of small-world clustering

Looking again at figure 14.4, the striking feature is that although most of the nodes in local clusters are not connected directly to the wider network, they are only one step further away from a node that is. If the local clusters were thought of as conventionally managed teams, the teams that had one of its members connected to the Internet would be virtually connected: i. e., every team member being just one step further away from being connected to everyone on the Internet. This is illustrated in figure 14.5.


Figure 5 - One person connected to the Internet in a group effectively connects the whole group

Effectively then, any conventionally managed team, with at least one member connected to the Internet would be directly influenced by information emanating from the Web and Internet discussion forums. This is also likely to be true if no members of a team are connected – because any member of the team might have a friend or contact that is connected and is likely to be influenced by their views.

With a single link to the Internet, a team might be highly dependent upon or influenced by that link. It represents a portal into a vast reservoir of information and knowledge. The problem is that any human link acts not only acts as a conduit for the information and knowledge, but, also as a filter – selectively choosing what information is filtered into the group.

This wouldn't be a problem if the human link was omniscient, able to access all information and understand all problems, but, it is more likely that any single contact would have only a limited range of understanding or be able to communicate only within a limited area of knowledge. This would make it strategically necessary for a team to have a variety of links to the Internet, through different people, to be able to get a more balanced information feed.

As it would be preferable for these links to have a variety of independent viewpoints - not influencing each other - the links would preferably be through isolated contacts: i. e., not directly part of the managed team. In this way the team would be less likely to be dependent upon a single source or run the danger of the information from the Internet being biased or incomplete.

It would be the role of the leader of a managed team, acting in the role of an entrepreneur or auteur , to organize such a group of independent contacts. The proviso being that the leader shouldn't act as a filter themselves, but, simply ordains the flow of information between the team and the linking contacts to the Internet. In this way, problems or requests for information can receive several different kinds of possible solutions to problems.