The concept of “six degrees of separation” is hardly a new one. But in case you’ve been living under a rock, I will say it’s an experiment from the 60’s that has turned into a sociological phenomenon, a movie and even a game involving Kevin Bacon. OK, great, we’re all on the same page now!
No doubt all of us has had at least a few experiences that lead to the cliché (yet obligatory) “wow, it really IS a small world!” comment. My most recent was just last night, when I realized a new business colleague grew up just a few blocks from me – so weird. These events help us buy into the six degrees theory. But is an experiment from the 60’s really valid today?? It seems impossible, given population explosions, etc. However, on the flip side, perhaps globalization has made it EVEN MORE valid today.
Using Facebook, Yahoo! has set out to prove or de-bunk the six degrees theory once and for all, through the Small World Experiment. Emil Protalinski over at ZD Net summed up the project well in a recent article: “The goal of the Small World Experiment is to determine the social path length between two strangers by tapping into the world’s largest social network and its 750 million users, each of whom have an average of 130 friends.”
Yahoo! has already recruited so-called “target persons” around the world. And now anyone with a Facebook profile can get involved as a “sender” to begin drawing connections. I just went through the process and it’s a lot of fun! I’m excited to see what happens and how quickly I am able to reach my target, a woman from the UK. More to come on that soon…
Move over Kevin Bacon — Yahoo! and Facebook will take it from here.
Photo Credit: BestofWDW via Flickr