Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Six Degrees : Its a small world. You can make a difference !

Since the blog is titled - 'Six degrees' so i thought maybe i'll post something on the same pointing out the very significance of this notion.

In 1967 the American sociologist Stanley Milgram created a test called “Small-world problem.” He randomly selected people in the mid-West to send packages to a stranger in Massachusetts. They were told only the recipient’s name, occupation and general location. Milgram , later , went on to formulate the notion of Six degrees.
The idea of six degrees of separation is that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person by a chain of no more than five acquaintances.

How cool is this ? Well , at a testosterone intense environment like the IITs the first thing that strikes me - I am connected to a Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen ,Alessandra Ambrosio or maybe a beautiful German in no more than six steps. Hurray!! This mere fact suffices to strongly motivate one to study the very dynamics of networks in our everyday world .

So the next obvious thing is : What's in there for us ?

  • The idea of six degrees of separation is incredibly empowering. That elusive answer you’ve been looking for, the guidance, connection, support, inspiration, are all closer to you than you imagine. Facebook's data team released two papers in November 2011 which document that amongst all Facebook users at the time of research (721 million users with 69 billion friendship links) there is an average distance of 4.74. This is even less than 6 . It was also found that 99.91% of Facebook users were interconnected, forming a large connected component. Facebook , thus , stands up to its motto of making this world - 'open and connected'.
  •  The Great Recession of 2009, too , can be explained using the six degrees of separation.In the simplest terms, what went wrong in the sub prime mortgage market is that the people responsible for making loans had too little financial interest in the performance of those loans and the people with financial interest in the loans had too little involvement in the how the loans were made.While six degrees of separation creates a smaller global community(comprising of borrowers, bankers, mortgage bankers, investors), it was not sufficiently close to insure a sound mortgage process.
  • A case study of 36 college students, and applies a social network analysis to investigate the differences between face-to-face and Facebook friendship networks. The results indicated that there are two significant differences - gender gaps and peer group pressure - between the two types of friendship
    networks. People tend to imitate real-life relationships with friends on
    Facebook, and even establish new friendship relations that cannot exist in real life, owing to distance or other factors. They share experiences, memories, and
    feelings (happiness, sadness, anger, and joy). So everything boils down to the six degrees of separation.
No wonder why we often come across the following -
Dating Tip : If  you have a crush on a girl , go talk to her friend first :P
All it implies is that you are trying to know her better by compromising on your degree of freedom so that you smartly match your interests with hers and Boom!!
That really works. True story!!!

References :
- Establishing New Friendships-from Face-to-Face to Facebook: A Case Study of College Students
- The small world problem D Watts, S Strogatz

1 comment:

  1. I came across this article sometime in November last year. This shows a set of 5 to 6 different studies that show how online social media have affected the degrees of seperation. Makes for a good follow up reading :