Facebook and Yahoo Set Out To Prove 'Six Degrees' Experiment

By

Are you really six degrees of separation away from Kevin Bacon? Or from the Pope, the mayor of Birmingham, England or the Unabomber, for example?

While the idea that almost everyone in the world is only six social contacts away from anybody else in the world has been a popular topic in sociology and pop culture for a long time, no one was ever really in a position to prove it on a wide scale.

Enter Facebook, which has more than 750 million active users all over the planet. If anyone can help prove the “six degrees” theory, it's the social networking phenomenon that Mark Zuckerberg built...with a little help from Yahoo.

This week, Yahoo Research launched an online study to test the pop-culture theory. Using Facebook and its army of users, Yahoo’s “Small World Experiment” is inviting people worldwide to attempt to send a message to a specified “target” by creating an online chain of connections, reports AdWeek.

Cameron Marlow, Facebook’s chief data scientist, points out that Facebook is in a better position than any other company in the world to offer the resources needed for the experiment.

“We believe that the average distance between two people is shrinking mostly because the types of connections you maintain online are a much better representation of people you know than the set of people you think about on a regular basis,” said Marlow. “The fact that you transcribed all of your relationships into something like Facebook allows you to stay in touch with a much wider audience. This give us not only a measurement on just how the world actually is but how well people can utilize those relationships to route messages across the world.”

Ten years ago, a researcher from Columbia University tried to test the theory using e-mail. The original “small world” experimenter, social psychologist Stanley Milgram, used handwritten and posted letters, said the Toronto. Neither experiment gained the type of traction the Facebook/Yahoo project is expected to gain.

One has to wonder if Kevin Bacon knows what he's in for...

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.



Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Coding and Invention Made Fun

By: Special Guest    10/12/2018

SAM is a series of kits that integrates hardware and software with the Internet. Combining wireless building blocks composed of sensors and actors con…

Read More

Facebook Marketplace Now Leverages AI

By: Paula Bernier    10/3/2018

Artificial intelligence is changing the way businesses interact with customers. Facebook's announcement this week is just another example of how this …

Read More

Oct. 17 Webinar to Address Apache Spark Benefits, Tools

By: Paula Bernier    10/2/2018

In the upcoming webinar "Apache Spark: The New Enterprise Backbone for ETL, Batch and Real-time Streaming," industry experts will offer details on clo…

Read More

It's Black and White: Cybercriminals Are Spending 10x More Than Enterprises to Control, Disrupt and Steal

By: Cynthia S. Artin    9/26/2018

In a stunning new report by Carbon Black, "Hacking, Escalating Attacks and The Role of Threat Hunting" the company revealed that 92% of UK companies s…

Read More

6 Challenges of 5G, and the 9 Pillars of Assurance Strategy

By: Special Guest    9/17/2018

To make 5G possible, everything will change. The 5G network will involve new antennas and chipsets, new architectures, new KPIs, new vendors, cloud di…

Read More