When I arrived at Shimer, some months ago, I started seeing connections. I saw them everywhere. There was a former student's name at the bottom of a hand out, in the footnote. There, on the back of a Shimerian's book -- the name of a dear friend doing a jacket blurb. And there, a donation from a former colleague in honor of another at the time of the latter's death. Six degrees of separation, I thought. I thought of sociometric diagrams. (And no, until this moment of googling, I did not know this was who Moreno was. To my shame.) And, I kept thinking this way for months. I imagined a portion of our website, where you would enter a name and follow the links to find how that person, ultimately, connected to Shimer. I imagined a map, and a cursor, that moved across the map, showing connections -- to authors and readers, to donors and alumni, to friends and . . . to Shimertopia.
So, this new part of this blog will be about connections. Sometimes 6 degrees, sometimes 1. And here, not degrees of separation, but degrees of connection.
This is not the game, six degrees of Kevin Bacon, though that is partly what inspires me. (especially now that he has come to see the game as fun -- and potentially a force for good. Click here for more.)
Nor do I actually have in mind the relevant social scientific research, though I perhaps ought to. (Is it in our curriculum? Hmm. Ought it be?) Nor do I have in mind the play or the film. (Well, maybe I do?)
Instead: how many links must we find to connect Shimer to:
1. Robert Maynard Hutchins (ok, this is easy, right?)
2. Don Moon (ok, another relatively easy one, right?)
3. Kevin Bacon (hmmm. 6?) See what you can do?
And, yes, our alum who has a book being made into a movie gets us there as well since actors included in the film have low KB numbers. Here's the information on the film; and Olivia Munn's KB number is . . . 2.
4. Bill Clinton (or Hilary)? (I can do this one in 2-3. How about you?)
Okay, now you know the idea. We can do more -- and will. In fact, I recently spent part of an evening with Shimerians (Sandra Collins, Ed Wallbridge, Chris Vaughan, and Joseph Fitzgerald) and was amazed at how we can reach out -- to politicians, celebrities, scientists, authors, and more. Why? Well, I was amazed because I had not thought to ask. I was not entirey amazed though. Why? Because, of course, everything is connected to Shimer, a place with disproportionate impact -- and disproportionate connections!