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January 05, 2008

36 Ideas - #2. What's a social network? (Ribbon game)

Advance Preparation

Purchase a lot of different kinds and colors of ribbons. Minimum of 30 pieces of ribbon, preferably in a minimum of 7 different styles/colors/lengths. Minimum recommended length for a single piece of ribbon is 1.5 yards. Optional: It makes the ribbons a little easier to grip if you tie a small knot at both ends of the strips of ribbon.

NOTE 1: Yarn may be substituted, but is not as durable or visible.
NOTE 2: Many fabric stores will sell bags of ribbon remnants at a relatively low cost. Ask if they have this, or ask when they might next have this.
NOTE 3: If you do use ribbon, you probably want to ask people to give them back, since this can get a little expensive.

Estimated Time

10-15 minutes.

Let's Do It

1. We need a volunteer from the audience, someone who knows a bunch of people here. This person will now be referred to as Mr/Ms. X.

2. Thank you for joining us! Here are five pieces of ribbon. (NOTE: These five pieces may be in different lengths but should all be the same color.) Hold on tight to one end of each piece of ribbon. Now, ask five people you know to come on up here. Give each one of them the other end of one of your pieces of ribbon.

3. You next five people are now known as Mr/Ms A, B, C, D, and E. You all get 4 pieces of matching ribbon, but each of you has a different color. Hold on tight to one end, and look for people you know to hold the other ends. Here are the rules. You may NOT give the end of one of your ribbons to Mr/Ms X. You MAY give an end to one of the other people Mr/Ms X knows (Mr/Ms A, B, C, D, and E). You may also call up someone else from the audience.

4. We have a few more random pieces of ribbon left. Those of you called up by either Mr/Ms A, B, C, D, and E may take a piece or two of ribbon to connect to anyone you know who is already up here. This assumes you are not already holding one of their ribbons.

5. Now let's look at the connections. Everyone up here has at least 1 ribbon in their hand, and Mr/Ms X has 5. Does anyone else have 5? If you do, lift your hands up. 4? 3?

Take Home Message(s)

This is an illustration of what is an itty bitty teeny tiny social network. The idea is to make overt and visible those invisible connections between one person and another, and those people and others. Each person has their own social network, but the social networks of one person and other people often overlap. This is what leads to the concept now known as "6 degrees of separation."

Connect the Tech

Here we illustrated a face-to-face social network. A fundamental concept in the online social networking environments is that the same kinds of connections still hold true, even online, even in virtual environments. (Discuss examples or illustrations of online social networking tools/resources.)

Caveats or Drawbacks to this Exercise

May not work with a very small group who all know each other well. Works best when the space has two levels or an incline, so that the pattern of ribbon connections can be made visible.

May not work with a very large audience, simply because of lack of visibility.

OPTIONAL: If you can get above the group of ribbons, consider taking a photo of the connections and projecting it on a screen for the rest of the audience to see. This is especially helpful with a very large audience.

Posted by pfa at January 5, 2008 09:42 AM

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