6 Degrees of Separation Experiment

The idea that we are all connected to one another by 6 degrees of separation has become ingrained in our public consciousness. And it has been proven, and re-proven, scientifically first in the 1960s by Dr. Stanley Miligram in what he called the Small World Experiment whereby letters mailed from one social contact to another, and more recently in 2002 by Peter Sheridan Dodds, Roby Muhamad, and Duncan Watts and colleagues by email. The paper by Sheridan, et. al. is attached here for download:

Watts 6 Degrees 2002

The concept has even become the centerpeice for a giving platform created by Kevin Bacon, SixDegrees.org! These efforts were linear; one person passed the information to another person who passed it onto a third, and so on. The people came from their on land or online address books, personal and professional connections. But I wonder if Facebook is reshaping the distance¬† another person and passed on the information one to another from one’s on land or online address book. I wonder if Facebook is reshaping our connections through the collection of lots of people with very light ties with whom I am connected. I would likely not have had a chunk of my high school class in my address book before, but now I can reach them instantly and easily and at no expensive and all at once. Does this make it easier for people to reach random other people around the world?

That’s what I want to try to find out. Also, by using Facebook, we should be able to watch the bouncing ball of one person connecting to another to reach their destination. The one clear rule of the experiment is that the connections have to be between existing social connections, no Googling someone and reaching out to a stranger.

I need some design help. Who is interested in making this happen through, say, a Facebook group?


About the author

Allison Fine

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