Mudcat Café message #2403865 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #105397   Message #2403865
Posted By: JohnInKansas
02-Aug-08 - 04:42 PM
Thread Name: BS: Six Degrees Of Separation
Subject: RE: BS: Six Degrees Of Separation
Study confirms 'Kevin Bacon' theory

Survey of instant-messagers finds any two people just 6.6 degrees apart1
By Peter Whoriskey
The Washington Post
updated 12:00 p.m. CT, Sat., Aug. 2, 2008

WASHINGTON - Turns out, it is a small world.

The "small world theory," embodied in the old saw that there are just "six degrees of separation" between any two strangers on Earth, has been largely corroborated by a massive study of electronic communication.

With records of 30 billion electronic conversations among 180 million people from around the world, researchers have concluded that any two people on average are distanced by just 6.6 degrees of separation, meaning that they could be linked by a string of seven or fewer acquaintances.

The database covered all of the Microsoft Messenger instant-messaging network in June 2006, or roughly half the world's instant-messaging traffic at that time, researchers said.


For the purposes of their experiment, two people were considered to be acquaintances if they had sent one another a text message. The researchers looked at the minimum chain lengths it would take to connect 180 billion different pairs of users in the database. They found that the average length was 6.6 steps and that 78 percent of the pairs could be connected in seven hops or less.

Some pairs, however, were separated by as many as 29 hops2.


1 ...any two people just 6.6 degrees apart??? The study actually showed that the average separation for a selected sub-population was 6.6, and that 78% of those in that sub-population were "7 or less." This leaves more than a fifth of the people even in this rather restricted fraction of the world more than seven degrees apart.

2 Having never sent or received an IM, I guess maybe I'm about 3,476,292 degrees "separated" from Microsoft's higly selected "real people" subgroup; but I'll just have to live with it, I guess.

[I feel so isolated ...]