If there is one thing the generalist understands it is that intellectual matchmaking is the crucial element behind ideas. People need to meet other people that they probably would never meet without some introduction from a third party. Thoughts from different backgrounds need to be collided for the desired creative ignition. Wired looks at this concept using, of course, the metaphor of networked computer systems – The Connectors: Meet the hypernetworked nodes who secretly run the world.
In a computer network, a node performs the crucial task of data routing, playing digital matchmaker to packets of information. In a social network, a node is the person whose PDA runneth over with people they met once on an airplane. Nodes host countless dinner parties, leave movie theaters to answer cell phones, and actually enjoy attending conferences. It seems like they know everybody, because they very nearly do – and most important, their connections are from all walks of life, creating a panoply of weak ties. Mensches with an intellectual bent, nodes perform invaluable feats of synthesis, bringing together thinkers, scholars, captains of industry, and the odd professional rugby player, all for the sake of adding new spices to their melting pots. Great books, products, partnerships, and technological innovations form in their chaotic wake, and one could make an argument that they run the world, if only by accident. But chief among the node’s attributes is a tendency to stay behind the scenes, which raises an irresistible question: Who are these people, what do they do, and how do they do it?