Sunday, August 10, 2008

Six degrees

In a world of 6.6 billion people, it does seem hard to believe.

The theory of six degrees of separation says that, because we are all linked by chains of acquaintance, we are just six introductions away from any other person on the planet.
Recently though researchers at Microsoft announced the theory was right well almost.

By studying billions of electronic messages, they discovered that on average any two strangers are distanced by 6.6 degrees of separation.

In other words we are linked by a string of seven or fewer acquaintances to any one person

The researchers at Microsoft studied records of 30 billion electronic conversations among 180 million people in various countries, according to the Washington Post.

The database covered all the Microsoft Messenger instant-messaging network in June 2006, equivalent to roughly half the world's instant-messaging traffic at that time.
Eric Horvitz and fellow researcher Jure Leskovec considered two people to be acquaintances if
they had sent one another a message.

They 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 hops, and that 78 per cent of the pairs could be connected in seven steps or fewer, although some were separated by as many as 29 steps.

The researchers wrote: 'Via the lens provided on the world by Messenger, we find that there are
about seven degrees separating us all

What we're seeing suggests there may be a social connectivity constant for humanity.

We are showing on a very large scale that this idea goes beyond folklore.'

A 'degree of separation' is a measure of social distance between people.

You are one degree away from everyone you know, two degrees away from everyone they know, and so on

Six degrees of separation between us and everyone else on this planet, which says that we are all bound to each other by a train of six people, although you also have to find the right six people to make the right connection.

And none of this considers re incarnation which reduces the odds even further

Having new brains in each life means of course that we are unaware of these previous connections or relationships.

But over the course of many many lives, did we but know it, we are all related

Just as the old teachings say

So take this idea on board that we are all related

All of us there is no them and us just us

Just us
So time to start behaving as if we understood this

Be nice to someone today she might be someone who knows someone you know!

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