Six Degrees Of Email Separation

from the getting-closer? dept

I’ve always liked the basic idea of “six degress of separation” (that any person has an average path of six people to go through to connect with any other person) and used to joke that my goal in life is to bring my own personal “average” degrees of separation down to three. I have wondered if the internet does lower the number to something below six – since so many people have expanded their social circles by so much, thanks to the internet. Now some researchers are trying to test that theory, and see how many degrees it takes to connect to random people using email. They actually don’t think it will be any less than six, but I’m not so sure. Also, having recently run into someone who does not use email, and never has (and never plans to), I wonder how those “non-connected” people would impact such a study.

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Comments on “Six Degrees Of Email Separation”

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Anonymous Coward says:

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um. What the hell is the point of this?

Years ago, my niece sent that little cartoon cut-out to me for a school project– the one that’s supposed to be sent to different localities. I’m sure that was only sent to me because I happened to be living 7000 miles away at the time.

I think these studies are flawed, in that the recipient will try to send the item to the person farthest away/most prominent. Think about– if you were asked to forward a letter to someone, would you forward it to your spouse/significant other — the person *most* within your social circle, or would you think of somebody who happens to be doing a stint in Antarctica?

I know for a fact that I am 2 degrees of separation from Jane Fonda. But this is through somebody I see maybe every two or three years (family by marriage). Is that person really in my social circle?

Also less than 6 degrees for me would be Colin Powelland Alvin Ailey and these are through two different people.

But If I had to define my social circle– it’d be pretty small. Maybe I’m being to picky though– just because I spend 8 hours a day with someone at work doesn’t mean they’re in my social circle does it?

Is there a difference between “social circle” with “circle of friends”?

Is everone who reads this now in my social circle? Is society merely communication? You don’t even know who I am.

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