When we're lacking intermediate nodes, it's likely we don't know what we're missing. We don't know what we don't know. It seems paradoxical and defiant of logical progressions to figure what to do to connect to the new idea. Perhaps that's why Stephen Downes is suggesting we rely entirely on association, in lieu of using deduction and inference. We can make spontaneous connections that we cannot explain or formulate methodically. They happen by two nodes being proximate. "Those close by form a tie".
One way to implement "connection by association" with a "far out idea" is to reverse engineer the bridge from our close knit comprehension. By starting with the new idea, it may be possible to connect back to the small world network where starting from known ideas won't get there. We can probably make some associations to the new idea in isolation. We can make up a story about it or elongate it into a scenario of incidents. We may deepen our appreciation of it by using varied metaphors to characterize it or different criteria to discern its value.
Here's an example of working backwards from the far out idea to connect with a current, complex understanding:
Imagine you have a deep understanding of the necessity of telling others what to think. In your experience people do not think for themselves. They need to be told and wait to be told by you whenever you give them a chance to think for themselves. It's a short hop in your conceptual network between what you think of yourself, of the people need to be told and of what they are not thinking for themselves. You find the labels "pushy", "domineering" or "impatient" do not fit you in your context. Your actions and comprehension of others seems justified, accurate and consistent with your experiences.
Next you encounter a far out idea: people can think for themselves (when they are not consistently pushed or constantly expected to need to be told). There is no connection between that approach and your experience-based, closely knit understanding of the complete opposite necessity. If you don't dismiss the idea as a lie, deception or mistake, you will experience cognitive dissonance.
To reverse engineer a connection back to your comprehension, begin with the far out idea where it might make sense:
- In what context might people consistently think for themselves?
- How could be those who think for themselves be supported, encouraged and validated for that initiative?
- What's different about people that think for themselves and solve problems without waiting to be told?
- How much of that difference in people is the result of how they are framed, categorized or defined by managers?
- How could the expectation that "people usually think for themselves" influence their admirable conduct?
- What effect would it have on those people to tell them what to think?
- What reputation might you earn among those people if you always told them what to think?