How does diffusion of ideas happen?

How does diffusion happen ? Here are some interesting ideas from the blog The Creative Thinking

“Ideas ‘diffuse’ through society much like atoms diffuse through the air. When you breathe in, you take in many millions of argon atoms which you then breath out again without change. Those atoms gradually spread out, first in your neighborhood and then across the country. Within about a year, they will have spread to the furthest reaches of the world.” The most intriguing thing that happens in India from time to time is some para-physical phenomenon hitting the general populace suddenly from nowhere. Currently ,in Nepal the idol of a God is believed to be “sweating” and thousands of people from all corners are flocking to see the phenomenon and offer worship to this new manifestation of divine power. The power of the phenomenon is so much that even the King’s own future is believed to be in peril arising out of this divine manifestation. Some time ago , the rumor that the elephant-God (Ganesha) had started drinking milk took the whole sections of population by storm and one witnessed people flocking to the temples everywhere offering milk to the Ganesha idol.

What is of note is not the religious belief of the people or even the manipulation of the mass psyche that was taking place at the time. The speed with which the idea apparently planted by somebody with some motive diffused in the mass psyche is the most amazing thing that I have ever witnessed in my life. On the day when the milk drinking rumour happened we had heard of the rumour in the morning ,which is around the time when everybody in the country had heard (in all cities and towns ) and by noon the T.V showed crowds of people throning the temples in every nook and corner of the country . This brings us to the interesting question : When does the idea take off after it originates somewhere ? The point at which an idea gains acceptability is believed to be when a least 25% of the population accepts the idea .This point is called the tipping point.

The rule of six

In a classic experiment, psychology professor Stanley Milgram sent letters to acquaintances with the name of another person elsewhere in the world that they did not know, and with the simple instructions to pass the letter on to someone who ‘might know’ the target person. His remarkable findings was that, in most cases, the letter found its target within about six ‘hops’ between people.

This experiment has been repeated more recently using the internet and email, and has come up with the same conclusions: we are only about six steps away from anyone else in the world.

In social networks, not everyone has the same role. Some people in particular seem to be particularly well connected with others and act as hubs through which much information passes. Some are general broadcasters.

Buzz happens when things become cool and fashionable, when they are included in gossip and when they are the latest new thing.”


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