A LITTLE SMALL TALK GOES A LONG, LONG WAY

[ Thu. Jun. 5. 2003 ]

With research cash increasingly targeted at interdiscipIinary study and cutting-edge science becoming ever-more complex, the aphorism 'it's not what you know but who you know' has never been more apt. Harriet Swain explains why networking is now a key academic skill 

...Smolin, along with Rees and Dawkins, has also been prominent on a website (www.edge.org) run by John Brockman. This site has brought together thinkers such as Daniel Dennett, Steven Pinker and Lynn Margulis to explore what Brockman refers to as "the third culture"—bridging the gap between scientific ideas and the "intelligent reading public". [Janna] Levin describes Brockman as a man who "knows everybody", who "collects people - and some pretty interesting ones". She met [Brian] Eno through Brockman, who also introduced Smolin and Jaron Lanier, inventor of virtual reality, to each other. This introduction was made at an event held to bring together Dawkins and the web intelligentsia who were fascinated by his "memes" theory—the idea of cultural replicators such as tunes and ideas being passed from person to person in a similar way to genes—in some ways a paeon to the powers of networking.

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