August 12, 2003
Not smaller after all
A dude at Columbia named Duncan Watts has repeated Stanley Milgram's 1967 "Six Degrees" experiment with email and determined that nothing's changed.
Bonus points: who can link themselves to Duncan Watts in the fewest hops?
Posted by kio at August 12, 2003 05:53 PM
OK, so if we out of school, here's a tale to tell.
Year and a half ago, when that first started, I signed up for it. There were a few people chosen, and you had to connect to them. By signing up, you got a name, and you had to get the email to them few hops as possible.
First one was a croatian artist. Did it with one hop, to a croatian artist friend of mine. Thinking that was a fluke, I signed up again. So the second one was a writer here in New York, an acquaintance of mine I'd seen a few nights before.
I quit it right there, and went to lunch with my friend, some of you know her, some of you don't. I was sort of upset by how small the world was, and was complaining about it to her.
I explained the experiment and the implications, at least for me personally, and in the end, she said, that's kind of a weird experiment ... where is that being done? I said Duncan something, up at Columbia.
Then she explained that, oh, that's Duncan Watts. I said, you know him? She said, yeah, I sort of hooked up with him the other night.
I won't tell you who she is -- unless you have a shorter number of hops -- but I will tell you that she's not on his friendster list, so it wasn't that deep. Like friendsters are.
You have attempted to access a user who is currently outside of your Personal Network.
But I think the "she" is well within my circle.
Excuse me Mr. Slavin, but you neglected to say who TOLD you about the experiment in the first place, now didn't you?
No, moron, it was me. I remember.