I have been doing some critical reading on the subject of the strength of weak ties, a theory developed by sociologist Mark Granovetter. According to Granovetter, your interpersonal ties in your social networks are divided into two — strong and weak. Your strong ties are made up of your close friends and families, while weak ties are made up of your acquaintances — probably those you do not often contact on a daily basis. These two ties, despite performing different functions of their own towards the benefit of our relationships, have strengths of their own, and they are both important in maintaining our social circles. As we don’t often interact with those acquaintances with weak ties in our social circle, chances are they know a lot of things that we don’t — and vice versa. What this means to me is all of those novel ideas a distant friend has that I had never heard of before? We can all learn from each other!
The community of codebreakers at Bletchley Park also had the same approach, using the strength of weak ties to inculcate creativity. They were not only comprised of mathematicians or cryptographers but also a multidisciplinary team of poets, chess champions, linguists, etc. and also musicians – what an ideal team should be like.
But not everyone there was an intellectual, and nor was it all maths and modern languages. There was something else too: the people gathered there, from whatever background — ordinary or extraordinary — all shared the ability to examine a problem from lots of different angles.
It reminded me of why I had enjoyed my design MA programme so much 6 years ago. We were made of 40+ students in a class of different disciplines — we even had journalists, cooks, mathematicians, computer scientists, ceramicists, managers, and many more — as well as comprising of many different ethnicities!
Anyway, back to writing my paper now.