“Chance Favors the Connected Mind”

ID-100129789This afternoon I was listening in to one of the #ETMOOC collaborate sessions, tweeting interesting ideas when the moderator, Alec Couros put up a slide with this quote from Steven Berlin Johnson, “Chance Favors the Connected Mind.” Of course it struck me as both interesting and something I thought worthy of sharing so I tweeted it out. Almost immediately Lisa Noble (@nobleknits2) asked me how this was true for me. I decided to mull it over and write about it as I didn’t think that I could do it justice in 140 characters.

First I did what any good learner would do if they did not know the context for the quote, I googled it (using “” around the words so the search would keep the words together as a string). I found this TED talk by Steven Johnson titled,
“Where Good Ideas Come From“, watched it and found even more great ideas which I tweeted out. But the one that still remained intriguing is “Chance favors the connected mind”.

I like it because it states the importance and benefits of being connected. One of the ways I like to stay connected is to take part in Twitter chats like the weekly #edchats that often have hot topics like Homework or the importance of teacher selected professional development, where the tweets fly so quickly that it can make your head spin. The “conversations” are stimulating, engaging, thought-provoking and for me, often make me think and rethink my position and feelings. The great thing about these chats and Twitter in general, is that it allows educator and other users to connect with others and engage in conversations, ideas and resource sharing, that otherwise might not have happened since the participants are from all over the world.

How does ‘chance’ come into play? I think in a couple of ways. First, one never knows who will be in a particular space at a particular time. With Twitter, using hashtags increases the possibility that something one tweets will be seen by people who follow that tag, but it is chance that it is seen at any given moment by someone who may take the conversation to a different level; who may then tweet something back that will lead to further discussion or connection. I also think chance comes into play because people who are “connected”, who are “networked” have more opportunities to engage with people they may not have in their current place, space or time.

So, another way I like to connect is through online courses like #ETMOOC. But just taking part in the course, listening to the sessions, doing the assignments, does not build these connections. What it does, is create the environment for making these connections and creating these chance opportunities. And that is something that Johnson says in his talk, we need to be in the right space so that our networks can grow. But again, we can be in the right environment, but not make the connection. We need to put ourselves out there, we need to listen, read, comment, reply and engage with others so that we can not only be in the right place, but we will also be there at the right time to make these connections that may lead to something great.

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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4 thoughts on ““Chance Favors the Connected Mind”

  1. ” but it is chance that it is seen at any given moment by someone who may take the conversation to a different level; who may then tweet something back that will lead to further discussion or connection.”

    Yes, this. This is what I love about Twitter, and the connections that we make. It’s the fact that it lets you make a connection, completely by chance, with someone who may have a real insight into what you’re learning, who may challenge you to push farther and go deeper, as you did with this blog. There are people out there with great ideas, and amazing resources, and we are so lucky when we rub up against them. I’m thinking about Rodd Lucier (@thecleversheep)’s blog (http://thecleversheep.blogspot.ca/2013/01/like-spokes-on-wheel.html) about bicycle spokes, and the way they interconnect.

    It sometimes frustrates me that people see Twitter as superficial, because it’s only 140 characters….but it’s a door-opener, that then lets you connect at a deeper level, if you are so inclined, and if you are at the right place, at the right time, for you.

    Thanks so much for the thought. I will write, too, I promise.

    • Lisa,
      First, thank you for reading and leaving your thoughts on my post; I really appreciate both your ideas and your taking time to comment.
      Next, I agree, when people don’t know what a tool does, like Twitter, and they see how some people (celebrities) are using it to post what they are doing or thinking at any given moment, they will naturally view it as superficial. I know that in the beginning, a couple years ago, when I first heard about Twitter from a PLP conference, I thought, “What do I have to say?” It was only when I began getting involved in different Twitter chats like #edchat and finding the “right” people to follow, that I really began to realize the potential. So I think that for new users to embrace it, they need to experience it with others who are already established using it so they can see the potential and the benefits of the 140 character conversations.
      Debra

  2. Debra,
    This was one of my favorite quotes from the session as well. I think the extra luck you bring yourself by being connected is often overlooked or not understood by the unconnected. However, it has been one of the most exciting things about being connected, for me.

    If you aren’t out there, looking around, poking around, finding this and that, how will you luck into a great find?

    • Wendy,
      I think you are right. People who are not connected, do not understand the benefits, or even the fun of entering into chats and conversations with people online. If I had not started using Twitter and engaging in chats and learning how to use hashtags, I would not know half, more than half the things I do.
      And, sometimes it is just that– luck– that someone puts something out that I happen to stumble upon at the right time.
      Deb

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