There is some evidence that the diffusion of a scientific innovation is a fashion-like process in which influence is transmitted through steadily expanding networks of scientists. Thus it is plausible to view science as an enormous cluster of innovations, of which the most successful are diffused by means of a contagion process that produces a logistic curve in all facets of scientific activity. Behind the seemingly impersonal structure of scientific knowledge, there is a vast interpersonal network that screens new ideas in terms of a central theme or paradigm, permitting some a wide audience and consigning many to oblivion. (p. 76)
Invisible Colleges (1972), by Diana Crane.
Comment: Some debate the scholarship and design of the research on which this work is based, but say what you will, this was at that time one of the works that most influenced thought on how social relationships shape knowledge and our understanding of scientific discovery. Much of our current work on the influence of social networks on scholarship and policy development is based at root on the thoughts expressed in this book by Diana Crane. The influence of this book extends far past academia to the design and development of such now-everyday tools as Facebook and Twitter, and even to popular culture, with this anecdotal example:
IF “Invisible = Unseen”
AND “College = University”
THEN “Invisible College” = “Unseen University”.
It makes sense that having two cerebral hemispheres that process information in uniquely different ways would increase our brain’s capacity to experience the world around us and increase our chances for survival as a species. Because our two hemispheres are so adept at weaving together a single seamless perception of the world, it is virtually impossible for us to consciously distinguish between what is going on in our left hemisphere versus our right hemisphere. (p. 28)
My Stroke of Insight (2006), by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor.
Comment: There were two specific ways in which this book caught my interest. One was this concept shown in the quote above that apparent opposites need not necessarily actually function in opposition to each other, but may instead be complementary and necessary aspects of forming a functional whole. The other aspect is the idea that we cannot easily perceive that which is part of our body or part of our existence when it functions normally, but only when it does not. Like Dr. Jill, I also suffered a kind of brain damage, most notably when I suffered severe chronic long term carbon monoxide poisoning a dozen years ago. We are often told that we cannot feel things inside our brain, but as part of the damage and healing process, I had powerful visceral sensations associated with trying to think about memories or skills located in the damaged area, as well as the sensations of the neurons sending out new or extended axons, probing around the damage, trying to find a new path to the old information. Similarly, we don’t tend to notice our feet unless they hurt, our lungs unless we are struggling to breathe, etcetera. Both of these are important lessons not just for how we as individuals listen and learn, but also how professions discover creativity, nations change economic and policy strategies, and possibly even for us as a species.
How it feels to have a stroke. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyyjU8fzEYU