The idea that we can all be connected through a series of six contacts appeals to me. It makes the world seem less brutal, and more warm and more friendly. But I have never been sure I really believed it. The theory relies on the fact that a human social network exists with people on a first name basis – the good old fashioned aspect I explore in this blog.
In this cold, cruel world, do we still let one another in to that degree?
We all have a chance to try to prove it right or wrong, thanks to some Columbia researchers:
According to the Small World Project at Columbia, “In 1967, the social psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted a seminal experiment to test the hypothesis that members of any large social network (in his case, the population of the United States) would be connected to each other through short chains of intermediate acquaintances.”
Columbia has united modern technology with the idea of Milgram’s old technology: the university is using email as Milgram had used passport-like packets.
I would have thought the idea would make an appealing TV show, but maybe not:
ABC has a series “on hiatus” that portrays this same concept. Six Degrees is based on the idea that “They say that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person through a chain of six people, which means that no one is a stranger… for long. In this hour-long drama from the producers of “Lost” and “Alias,” six very different New Yorkers go about their lives without realizing the impact they’re having on one another – yet. A mysterious web of coincidences will gradually draw these strangers closer, changing the course of their lives forever. Is it happenstance? Fate?”
I hope Six Degrees returns, and I hope I get it together to sign up for Columbia’s test. In the meantime, I await that email…