The Friday Fillip: Degrees of Connection

How are hockey, poutine, and philosophy related?

The answer to this and all manner of other “connect the dots” sorts of questions is provided by xefer’s cunning use of Wikipedia. On the xefer-Wikipedia site, you simply enter one or more words or phrases, and provided that they’re Wikipedia article titles, xefer finds the paths in Wikipedia that will link up the concepts. The result is a map of logically related nodes each of which is an article title, making the whole look rather like a way finder for a subway system.

If you’re stumped for notions—and it’s surprising how empty the mind goes when you’ve got to come up with a few crazy unrelated things—you can hit the random button. (If your map is still evident, the randomizer will simply add its own terms to those you’ve already put in, which is how I learned how to marry hockey, poutine, philosophy and Kyrgyzstan national futsal team.

As with any transit system, some trips are more worth taking than others. And to get from one point to another when they’re widely separated, you have to pass through some fairly bland abstractions (or, to switch metaphors somewhat, some very dense railyards), particularly because all roads must lead to Philosophy in the end.

Once you’re tired of this game, you can turn to others of xefer’s projects, among which you’ll find the Maze Generator, Twitter Charts, and Conway’s Game of Life (which I talked about here hundreds of fillips ago).

Hockey and poutine and philosophy? Click here to see the map—and notice that the main “switch point” is Life—and that there’s no shortcut through Canada.


  1. Could the root word be changed to Peace or Justice instead of Philosophy? I really think switching it up would make the game of connecting the dots more personalized and may better assist those suffering from a specific “brain cramp”. I did experiment with this interesting “transit system” but in the end I decided to refer to my 50-Zen Card Deck for problem solving and inspiration. Thanks for this post.