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How Many Degrees Separate You and Your Information?

Degrees of separation refer to how you are connected to other people

In case you are not familiar, degrees of separation refer to how you are connected to other people.

When you know somebody directly then you are a first connection, and you are a second degree of separation from people that they are directly connected to. The theory goes that via a mix of the number of people you are directly connected to, as well as how well they are connected to others, that you are only so many degrees of connection separation from many (if not millions of people) and if you go out seven degrees, that could be billions.

If you are familiar with or use Linked In and are directly connected to somebody like myself, which is a first degree. For example in the following image, person A is a first or 1 degree connection to person B, person B is a direct or first degree connection to person C who in turn is a direct connection to person D. Person A is 2 degree from person C and three degree from person D.

Image degrees of seperation

The reason I bring this up is not to say or play games around who is connected to whom, or compare contacts or the number of them, rather to use the idea of degrees of separation in the context of where and how you get your information. For example, you may get your information, insight or experience directly from what you do. On the other hand, you may get information or knowledge directly from the source or person involved with it, which would be 1 degree of separation.

Image degrees of seperation

You could also get the information from somebody else such as a friend, coworker, blogger, analyst, consultant, media journalist, reporter, vendor, VAR or other person who got it directly from the source, which would be 2 degrees of separation. Another example would be you get your information from somebody who cites a report, study, survey or some research that came from another source that involved another party who collected and analyzed the data.

At each point, there is the potential for the information to be changed, adjusted, reinterpreted, misunderstood, or simply adapted to meet particularly needs. What if person A gets their information from person B who in turn got their information from source C, and that comes from person D who got it directly from person E? Assuming that the information was collected and passed along as is, person A should get what was given from person E to person D. However, along the way, various interpretations, more material and views can be applied resulting in a different message.

Image degrees of seperation and information transformation

There is also another variation, which are your spheres of influence or circles of contacts. For example I get to talk with lots of IT pros around the world live in person, virtually and via different venues, those would be direct or no separation. When I hear from a vendor or PR or some pundit telling me what they heard direct, that's 1 degree however if they heard it from their marketing who heard it from a sales rep or other source then it's at least two.

image of ssd technology evolution

Another example of degrees of separation is where you are in relation to technology timelines, evolution, revolution, industry adoption vs. customer deployment. For example, if you are a researcher or development engineer, you are further along on a technology evolution curve than others are. Somebody then takes the researchers work and productize it including making it manufacture able on a cost-effective basis. Along the lines there is also the different degrees of separation between the researcher, initial publicity of a technology breakthrough, general industry adoption and later customer deploy and subsequent success stories. For example, to a research something that they did many years along with those who follow at that point may view what is emerging for real customer deploy as old and yesterday's news.

StorageIO industry trends cloud, virtualization and big data

On the other hand, for customers getting ready to deploy a new technology, product or service, some breaking research may be interesting to hear about, however it may be out several years at best from customer actual use. Also on that theme, the customer of a component can be a manufacturer that in turn test, qualifies and sells a finished solution to their customers. Thus, there are different degrees of separation between industry adoption (e.g. talking about and awareness) and customer deployment (actually buying and using on a mainstream basis) in the technology supply chain.

image of you and your big data and little data and cloud

Yet another degree of separation is between you and your information or data. Some of that data is very close in your own memory (e.g. brain), perhaps others written on note pads (physical or digital) with a copy local or remote including at the cloud. Depending on how your data and information are backed up or protected, there can be added degrees of separation between you and your information.

image of data protection from cloud and virtual data storage networking

Thus, there are different degrees of separation between you and your various forms of information.

Your ability to learn and share information, meet and interact with various people from across different sections of environments is bound by what you are willing to engage via various mediums including social media involvement.

StorageIO industry trends cloud, virtualization and big data

If you are comfortable with where you are at, or what you know, then stay in your comfort zone, or sphere of influence, otherwise, take a chance, venture out, learn what you do not know, meet who you do not know, interact and see new things, or have some dejavu and share what you have seen or experienced before.

After all, knowledge not shared with others is useless if kept only to you. Of course, for NDA material, what is not generally known about, or understood is not discussed and let us leave sleeping dogs lay where they rest. ;)

How good or reliable is your information or G2 that you might be using for forming opinions or making informed decisions around?

Feel free to expand your network getting closer by a degree or two, if not directly too different sources. You can connect with me via Twitter (@storageio), Goggle+, Linked In and Facebook among other means here. Likewise, check out the StorageIO events calendar here for upcoming virtual and live activities. These activities include seminars, web casts, video chats along with in person events while out and about in North America as well as Europe.

Ok, nuff said.

Cheers Gs

Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press, 2011), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press, 2009), and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier, 2004)

twitter @storageio

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More Stories By Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

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