Innovation is about the creation of a new idea based on existing concepts.
This applies to Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, where medical researchers look through NCBI, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, to browse connections among proteins to look for clues to fight diseases and human health crisis.
It applies to Internet culture, where users mash-up existing services together to create new products and services where 1+1>2.
It applies to agriculture, where farmers combine different species of vegetables through genetic mutations to produce seedless watermelons, tomatoes that do not bruise during shipping, high-starch potatoes and cataloups that resist viruses.
In the business world, innovation is about connecting existing ideas into new concepts. The idea behind Social Retailing (SM) is made possible by connecting shopping and community, a concept which seems odd at first but once you find the key to connect the two, it makes sense.
The challenge in linking these nodes lies in finding the chain of links (the key) connecting these concepts. However, I have found a very powerful tool today on the Web that may very well be used as a successful formula generator. It's called Six degrees of Wikipedia.
Here are some interesting searches I conducted on the site and their resulting degrees of separation:
Social - Community - Internet - Shopping
Social - Community - Public space - Retailing
Retailing - Online shop - Web browser - Wii (a)
Retailing - Department Store - Hercules - Playstation
- Retailing - Consumerism - Mass media - Xbox
Bottom line: brainstorming is made much easier when the path of connections is clear.