Six degrees of solar separation

John Donne wrote “No man is an island,” but he forgot to provide a map of our connections. Everything is subtext with those poets! Fortunately, we also have engineers and programmers to fill in the details.

The folks at Silobreaker have come up with a great tool for mapping all sorts of connections between people, places, companies, trade groups, cities and other factors. In our case, we were interested in seeing the links Silobreaker would find using the phrase “solar power.” The results are seen below.

The widget works pretty well, but for best results, try it out on the Silobreaker website. The information that appears when you hover over a name, for example, takes too long to load on our widget. On their site, it’s nearly instantaneous.

It’s also highly customizable. You can restrict the links displayed to show only one logical type, say, companies. Suddenly, the map rearranges itself, tossing out cities, groups, etc., and you’re left with a map displaying only solar manufacturers.

The tool is helpful for spotting connections that might otherwise go unnoticed, but it has it’s downside: it’s slightly addictive. Type in “photovoltaics,” clear the settings of everything but “people,” and see the somewhat surprising list that comes up.

Kevin Bacon didn’t show up on my first try. But drill down. I’m sure he’s there.

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