Three Degrees of the SharePoint Community Challenge

"Six Degrees of Separation." It was one of those catch phrases of the last 20 years. There are 6 degrees to Kevin Bacon, and those in Hollywood where you can connect him to any actress based on his work. Now the challenge I propose to you is to see if you can find someone active in the SharePoint Community anywhere in the world that is more than 3 degrees from me. In addition, going into a new community, find the leader and you’ll find the connection to the rest of the community. We are all about 3 degrees of separation and in many cases there is no separation, we are at 2! These degrees can much more easily be validated with the common social networking tools of Facebook, Twitter and Linked in, and we’ll limit the scope to validating the degrees with those social tools. As well, we’re talking about people who are not averse to being connected and are active in their community. This shrinking world is fascinating. Social networking and how we define a friend are really changing this game of how we are connected. You can read more about this shift in facebook heading from 6 to 3.

Not only is the SharePoint community getting closer as many of us connect online through social networks and in global travel to more local events, analytics based on facebook data is showing the world is getting more connected, and 6 degrees from those online is actually overestimated. "While 99.6 percent of all pairs of users are connected by paths with 5 degrees (6 hops)," Backstrom wrote on a Facebook blog, "92 percent are connected by only four degrees (5 hops). And as Facebook has grown over the years, representing an ever larger fraction of the global population, it has become steadily more connected. The average distance in 2008 was 5.28 hops, while now it is 4.74."

As an example, when I went to Manila for the first time, I sat down with the experts in the community and we had them each pull up facebook and provide their names. One by one we went through the list and it was incredible how we had connections through MVP leads in China and Singapore and SharePoint User group connections with Microsoft with as many as 11 connections to their SharePoint Microsoft Technical Account Manager or local Office Productivity Product Management lead. So in the Philippines the SharePoint community is now very well connected with 2 degrees in many cases to the leadership, but even prior to our arrival the group was well connected with 3 degrees.

Three degrees isn’t just something cool and mean we’re small. It means better access to information. When a CU has a serious regression, just posting a blog is sometimes not enough. It’s about sharing and disseminating this information through our networks to the communities around the globe. I personally have had a personal goal to be the best connected SharePoint guy for quite some time. Some would scoff and say I’m addicted to facebook, twitter and social networks, but personally it’s more about making friends and real connections all over the world. I’ve travelled to over 100 countries in my quest to connect the SharePoint community and build a more cohesive community where we can openly share information with each other. Compare this map of where I’ve been, to the map further below of where my friends are.

Places I’ve been

(Where should I be going that doesn’t have pins? I am planning for Calgary, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Armenia, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. Others in South America, Africa, Alaska, Saudi?)

When I was travelling in Nepal, below us was a huge expanse, a deep canyon, and a cable upgrade from a rope bridge over to a small village in what I’d easily call out in the middle of nowhere. As the curdled ox milk was poured we were talking to our young hostess the only one in the village who spoke a little English. She was asking us what we did. We said, do you know what a computer is? We didn’t know how many hundreds of miles she’d have to go to even see one. To our surprise, she asked us… "Are you guys on facebook?!"

At the Anaheim SharePoint Conference this past year I was walking the vendor hall and stopped at a booth by accident waiting in line for a free massage. With my attention captured the booth guy asked me if I’d heard of their company. I had not, he went on to explain they’d been in the SharePoint business for the last 9 years. I had to stop him. How was this possible? How could I have not heard of them? I wanted to say, what rock do you live under… but instead was nice and said "where is your business?" We are in DC. Ok, so do you know Dux, Fabian or Eric Harlan? No, he replied. What!!? Are you sure you’re involved in SharePoint? We were thinking about doing SharePoint Saturday DC, but… I had to sit him down at this point and tell him that he really needed to first embrace the community where he lived in order to better get connected with the community period.

Where my fb friends live

Michael Noel and I have been travelling together even so, that this next month we will have spoken at enough common events to have spoken on every continent including the continent of penguins. We have 513 common friends on facebook alone. Spence Harbar from Scotland has over 446 friends in common. Saed Shela, organizer of the SharePoint Saturday in Palestine has 220 friends in common. Paul Culmsee from Perth Australia has 154 mutual friends. Chand from NZ has 117. Ricardo Muñoz Monge from Costa Rica and Chile has 77 common friends. Patrick Yong from Kuala Lumpur, 43, Joy from Sri Lanka 40. Sure many of these friends listed are contacts, and are people we’ve met at conferences or met online. Many of them are people we meet at conferences or have reached out to for one reason or another. There are many different rules for who you accept as a friend, and many have watered down their information or used their profiles for work purposes, but to me it’s definitely still a rolodex and allows me to keep in contact with people I’ve met and want to keep in touch with. It doesn’t always mean they are someone I trust 100% and that may be where we differ.

Across these hundreds of connections from the hundreds of SharePoint leaders running SharePoint user groups, running blogs, and actively trying to keep in touch with what’s going on, I expect we will cross paths and I hope we do, and if we do I hope we connect and make the world a little smaller and make that much more well connected.

I’ll tell you it does make me feel like my own personal perspectives are greater as a result of every user group, every conversation, and nearly every event, I find I’m a better person as a result of having met you. It’s each and every community that expands my mind and perspectives. Just got a Christmas card from Slovenia. Yep, I’m thinking about you guys. LATAM definitely hoping to connect in a big way in January, and so on… South East Asia, I’m holding my fourth quarter for you guys.

SharePoint Community in 2008

SharePoint Community in 2011

250 most connected of more than 2500

What communities do you see represented here? I see Portugal, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Malaysia, South Africa, Belarus, Singapore, Vietnam, Microsoft, Canada, Belgium, France, UK, Denmark, Croatia, Germany, Netherlands, UAE, SQL, IIS, .NET, Vendors, Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile, Brazil, Mobile, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, SharePoint Saturday leaders, Microsoft MCS, SharePoint Rangers, PFEs, MCMs, Product planners, Product Managers, Microsoft IT, SharePoint Online, MCTs and Instructors.


Ok. So your call to action here is to help us connect your community to make the world even smaller. Let’s connection on your favorite social network, well let’s start with Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In, and if I can’t visit you I’m sure I can find someone who can.

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