I really dig it. Boyd cites sociologist Ronald Burt & Burt’s 2004 book Structural Holes
, The Social Structure of Competition (Harvard University Press, 1992):
Social capital exists where people have an advantage because of their location in a social structure.
Personally & professionally, I’m constantly striving to fill structural holes between social networks. I take great pride in connecting otherwise disconnected subnetworks. Its kinda what Twotone
is all about.
The distinction between different sorts of information brokering in the context of Burt’s definition of structural social capital is quite useful when considering where you can position yourself:
Awareness — to make people on different sides of the structural hole aware of “interests and difficulties” of those on the other side
Transferring best practice — to become familiar enough with innovative practices in one group to help them become established in another group
Drawing analogies — to reflect on the practices in one group and to infer through analogy how those practices might be adapted in a second group
Synthesis — to reflect on activities in practices of disparate groups and to meld together ideas, coming up with an innovative combination
Boyd’s takeaway? There is a practical advantage to being at the edge of these structural holes: It confers social capital. This led him to the observation:
In a connected world, the most important choice is who to follow.
In closing, I’ll re-echo Boyd’s favorite a one-liner of Burt’s:
Seek to be worth knowing.
As always thank you for reading (and following!),
My colleague Renate
has been interviewing current & former clients the past 2 weeks. Look out for this emoji next to the updates her interviews revealed: 💠