The man himself posts in the comments:
“This was too easy! You should have tried a Mongolian goatherd or a Republican Senator instead of me. We’re probably in too-similar worlds.
Steven Johnson mentioned your site to me – so that’s only two degrees of separation.
My suggestion is that you keep quiet about the fact that I’ve made contact and see if anyone else comes up with a more circuitous and interesting route.”
Half-baked thought: the goal of all the ‘Sters is to collapse our social web to a surveyable size, bringing our friends and connections close enough to see beyond them to new people. A little like glancing over the shoulder of someone you’re talking to at a party in order to see who’s coming through the door.
The picturesque and playful exploring of our social connections is sacrificed. The mathematics of coincidence are intruding on the delusions we enjoyed every time we exclaimed to a new acquaintance the reassuring cliche “what a small world!”.
Where’s the business model in social networks? The same as email and other generators of information overload: the new luxury of meaning. I will pay to sustain the space, the silence and the signal. Give me privacy and anonymity, but also possibility. Extend my connections, but don’t collapse them. Jason Kottke’s satirical job advert for such social network concierge services could be answered one day, as he suggests, by an arms-race of web apps or software agents at a price.
The republican senator and the mongolian goatherd that Eno mentions have the same luxurious, unobtainable high-ground at the lip of the connectivity well, for very different reasons.
The money and the privilege give the benefits of access without the overload. Those down in the connectivity well will pay for a short trip up into the weightless, noiseless luxury world of the goatherd/billionaire like we do expensive spa weekends or wilderness trips.
Or when we bore of our “too similar worlds” we’ll swap identities and networks for a while – for picturesque experience of other uncollapsed networks, connections and the possibilities they bring. A student at the RCA based his “identity tourism” project on the statistic that 70% (I think) of us lie about what we do when a stranger on an airplane asks us. Playing dress-up is pretty profitable in the real-world as it is.
But I digress.
The final goal of sitting down for a nice milk stout with the man has yet to be accomplished, but EnoQuest is done; with a nice three-act structure at ridiculous internetweb social-singularity-speed.
Big thanks to Steven Johnson, and everyone who joined in.