“I think one exciting solution is to re-conceptualize curiosity as the seeking of information links — not just the information, but the links between that information. ” ~ Danielle Bassett
Danielle Bassett is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where they study biological, physical, and social systems by using and developing tools from network science and complex systems theory. They work at the intersection of basic science, engineering, and clinical medicine — and now they are taking on curiosity itself.
How do we connect our curiosity dots? Network theory will out!
What I Learned: Although I think of myself as a person who loves words, I have learned that I am very much a visual learner, and that how information is presented — what it actually looks like — really matters to me, and others. Dani’s search for the models that could help us understand our learning and information processing seems potentially and importantly transformative. It is remarkable to me that there is math for that.
What I Loved: This radical rethinking of how we connect information, for ourselves and others, is marvelous. This idea of linking ideas. This idea of casting out an edge in search of a node, whose whereabouts, purpose or identity are still to be determined, seems wonderfully hopeful. Curiosity as an optimism about the unknown is thrilling.
That, and the idea of a curiosity fingerprint equivalent. Don’t you love the idea that you embody a unique constellation of curiosity networks, decidedly and entirely your own? Would you recognize a map of your own curiosity?
Dani Bassett is the tenth in my series of interviews with the contributing authors to the anthology Curiosity Studies: A New Ecology of Knowledge (University of Minnesota Press, 2020). This episode first aired in March 2020; it has been refreshed for redistribution, December 2023.
A bonus: After we recorded, Dani sent me this quote from Francesco Petrarch. I think you’ll understand why after you’ve listened to the show: “Books never pall on me. They discourse with us, they take counsel with us, and are united to us by a certain living chatty familiarity. And not only does each book inspire the sense that it belongs to its readers, but it also suggests the name of others, and one begets the desire of the other.”
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