Monday, August 04, 2008

I Stand Corrected

Having always known that everyone in the world was connected to me by 6 degrees of separation, even though they were not aware of it, I have now learned that it is not 6 degrees but more likely 6.6 degrees of separation. However, the Queen of England still does not know that I exist.

While it is popularly believed that most people around the world are linked to each other by six degrees of separation, a new American study has found that the real figure is closer to seven.

The 1993 film Six Degrees of Separation starring Will Smith and Donald Sutherland popularized the notion that all people can be connected to each other by a small string of relationships.

The theory holds that you are one degree of separation from everyone you know, two degrees from everyone they know and so on.

But whereas previous studies into the extent of social networks have been limited by the wide geographic distances involved, the new study draws on millions of unwitting participants across the globe.

Carried out by Microsoft researchers, it monitored 30 billion instant messages (stripped of their contents) transmitted by 180 million people all over the world during a single month.

It found that most of these people were separated from everyone else using the messaging system by an average of 6.6 relationships. However, some connections were far more distant, with one pair separated by 29 strangers.

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