Six Degrees Apart From Everyone
Let us start with an example. Consider having 10 friends on Facebook, where each 10 has 10 other friends who are not also your friends, who in turn have 10 other friends, who again have 10 other and so on. Considering this pattern six times, we see that one is connected to over 60 billion people in just six steps. This connection was first noticed by a poet named Frigyes Karinthy, who, in 1929, wrote a poem about a person who challenged his friends to find such another person who is not connected to them in less than Six steps. Six degrees of separation started with this poem named Chains.
But after so many years, is the number still the same?
Albert-László Barabási, Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science at Northeastern University, said that nobody cares about the number, no individual, and no scientist. The reason behind this ignorance is that even if the number is 20, it is still a very small number when compared to the system. When he says the system, he refers to the nodes that connect other nodes.
To study this phenomenon better, Barabasi along with his colleagues at Northeastern University, governed scale-free networks while mapping the World Wide Web in 1990. What they noticed was that in spite of the immense scope of cyberspace, each document was only 19 clicks away from another. Today, this number has decreased to a significant level, as seen by the statistics of Facebook. Facebook analysed their data, to realise than 92% of their audience was connected in less than 5 steps! The concept of six degrees of separation has fascinated thousands of people for over a century now. Some find this fact counter-intuitive, while some are amazed about how six handshakes will connect them to almost all people in the world.
Teena Rose Tom