Networks are formed by connections. The flows between nodes have been getting stronger. Thanks to urbanization trends, people migrated to cities where they believe they can learn more and earn more income. Hence, the flow of people increased significantly in past decades. The flow of information though skyrocketed. And the democratization of information weakened the hierarchical models.
We are all located in the center of our networks. Everyday we share information (correct and fake), emotions, an even our health with our networks. According to Changing Curriculum through Stories: Character Education for Ages 10-12 book of Marc Levitt, each additional happy friend increases a person’s probability of being happy by about 9%. Yet, having an extra $5,000 only increases the probability of being happy by 2%. We are all connected to one another and that our well-being depends upon the well-being of others.
We start these flows and not affect our friends but also our friends’ friends. Some of us do not continue these flows. Say, Paul gets the COVID-19 virus from Jack. He immediately self-quarantines and does not infect anyone. In this case, Paul ends just one of the flows. But if Jack infected 6 more people, the virus keeps spreading exponentially. Ending a flow is linear, spreading might easily be exponential. This is the power of networks.
If in a network model, a virus can spread from one person to rest of the world, we can use this model as an opportunity. With this argument, we organized the first COVID-19 related hackathon in Turkey. We founded “Coronathon Turkey” platform and helped bright minds find innovative solutions to the pandemic. It became an amazing network of more than 60 partners including NGOs, major universities, corporations, startups, public institutions, investment funds and more. We received more than 1,400 individual applications in 48 hours. In the two-day contest, around 1,000 online mentoring sessions took place. Close to 150 concrete ideas were submitted. One of the winning teams helped the country increase the number of daily tests conducted significantly.
These network structures are one of the most important features that distinguish humans from animals. We can create large communities (even if they do not know each other) and can work together within the framework of a common goal. We can transfer information or values not only to our friends horizontally, but also from generation to generation vertically. In this way, we keep expanding the network, and hope we can use them for good.