Aug 23, 2011

by English Muse

I’ve been looking at this illustration for about an hour now. On one simple piece of paper, you can discover the six degrees of separation between Plato and Zadie Smith, J.J. Abrams and Isaac Newton,
and Voltaire and Moby.

It was created for the Debt issue of Longshot Magazine by Michelle Legro of Lapham’s Quarterly, Maria Popova of Brain Pickings, and illustrator Wendy MacNaughton. The illustration is meant to chart the “artistic, scientific, and philosophical debts through time.”

It’s a human algorithm that weaves together centuries of creative thought. Sort of mind-blowing, really. I only wish I had paid this close attention in history class! You can hear Legro, Popova and MacNaughton interviewed about the creation of the chart on Longshot Radio.

Copies of the chart are for sale on Etsy.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 at 9:26 pm. It is filed under Books, illustrations. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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24 Responses to “Circles of Influence”

  1. Liss says:

    interesting!!! I’d love if it was a website and I could click on each arrow to read about how they were connected. but thats my brain always wanting to know the how.

    oh that commentluv form worked. Does wordpress have a plugin where you can comment with your twitter or facebook login? or one that remembers your details?

  2. missy says:

    SO cool! Funny that Tolstoy was influenced by Charles Dickens who was influenced by Shakespeare, when Tolstoy was supposed to have hated Shakespeare.

  3. Tina says:

    yes, it has a twitter and facebook plugin somewhere…i need to find it..that would make it easier for people to comment…

  4. Tina says:

    I can see how McLuhan influenced Shirky, but how did Joyce influence McLuhan?

  5. suse says:

    my brain hurts

  6. Tina says:

    I’m really geeking out over this chart. Maybe I should just go to bed. Goodnite everyone!

  7. Kolbie says:

    This is really cool haha.

  8. kirsty helen says:

    im in love! heading to the etsy site…
    ps thanks for visiting xo

  9. I missed a cross reference between Shakespeare an Miguel de Cervantes. Almost only anglosaxons in this chart! Funny though. I spent a good time looking at it. I find your blog to be amazing and always inspiring!

  10. Joy says:

    Oooh me too it’s fascinating how everything is related!

  11. Teresa says:

    Now try to imagine such chart with all our influences in the web… that would certainly give you nighmares :D.

    I love it and I’m already imagining endless charts…

    I think I’ll buy one for a “literary” friend for her birthday. Does ETSY dispatchs for Portugal? (teresa running to have a look :))

    Thank you Tina, you always find the sweetest things :flower:

  12. laurie b says:

    yes, this has my brain working as well! it would be interesting to make one of our own lives and the connections/influences…

  13. Jess Lucas says:

    I LOVE this!!! So clever. . . . its amazing how we are influenced by each other at the end of the day:)
    Jess x

  14. Katie says:

    I need this! I think it would actually be useful to me for more than entertainment.

  15. Oh wow, this is a fascinating chart! It’s amazing to see the cnnections

  16. Catherine says:

    This is amazing! The theory of six degrees of separation has always fascinated me immensely. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  17. Madeleine says:

    What a tangled web! This is a fascinating chart. I also enjoy the 6 degrees of separation and now I feel a little smarter.

  18. Linda says:

    Mind-blowing indeed! I haven’t read all of it but I recognize some connections, though I never made them myself. It’s like that thing with the handshakes, as in how many handshakes did it take to get from someone famous to yourself, but this is so much more interesting!

  19. hillary says:

    brilliant! not only are discovering connections always fascinating, but seeing visually the authors linked to my favorites has inspired me to branch out a bit!

  20. Tina says:

    Thank you love

  21. i’m so in love with this. it would be a great gift for one of my english professors!

  22. Ceri says:

    Wow, I absolutely love this. Just can’t stop looking at it. 😀

  23. […] of the Great Writers Illustrator Wendy MacNaughton, one of the collaborators on the brilliant Circles of Influence chart, produced this wonderful illustration recently for the New York Times. She also has a […]

  24. Swasa says:

    bahut sahi…Neeta ji ekdam sahi baat kahi… aur ekdam sahi mudda uthaya… ajaakal is net ke chakkar mei to pata nahi sabhi ko kya ho gaya hai…n specially females ka to aise logon se yunhi pala padta rahta hai…

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