It’s a Small World After All

Posted by: in Marketing Insights, Social Media Insights & Trends on August 19, 2011

You’re aware of the concept of “six degrees of separation,” whereby one person can be connected to another by no more than six hops of relationships away. This inspired the phenomenon Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon and my buddy Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation.

Now, Yahoo! and Facebook are teaming up to prove out this theory — that online, no two people are more than six connections away from each other. It’s called the Small World Experiment. They’re asking Facebook users to volunteer to serve as guinea pigs for the experiment to “find” another random person, no more than six hops away.

After some scary user agreement language (you agree to allow Yahoo! to retain personal information) and the ever-scarier Facebook request to “Access my basic information,” I was asked to start a link chain to Louise in Birmingham, UK. I chose a friend in England, as I figured a leap across the pond would be a good head start.

My message will then go to him to have him continue the chain until it hopefully reaches Louise within 6 hops. After entering even more personal information, I sent along the chain request to my friend in the UK.

Seems like an interesting experiment, as long as there’s enough participation. The only issue I had with it (besides the most extensive personal information I’ve ever filled out online) is that it doesn’t clearly show the progress of your “chain.” I’ll report back later if/when I reach Louise.

By: Matthew Snodgrass

Group Director of Digital Strategy at NextWorks, partner of The W2O Group.

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