The Small World Project is an online project designed to test the “six degree rule of separation.” This is an intriguing theory, I am quite interested in being involved and probably will begin a chain. I’ve brought a fair amount of material over for you to read. Check it out, and see what you think and let me know. I won’t be doing much with it today as I’m down in San Diego, working in the library right now and will be getting together with my family in a few hours. This project does greatly interest me, however. If you decide to start a chain, let us all know, so we can hear of your progress. Read the entire story of this fascinating project here.
The six degree rule of separation is the theory that anyone in the world is within your reach merely by contacting six strategic people.
In this project, we intend to perform the first large scale, global verification of the small world hypothesis, using the modern Email equivalent of Milgram’s passport innovation. We hope to test not only average properties of lengths of acquaintance chains, but also the distribution of lengths, along with the effect of race, class, nationality, occupation, and education. We intend to
quantify the impact of additional target information upon search success and chain length, and
also to investigate the importance of “centers” individuals who are thought to exist who are disproportionately responsible for directing messages to the targets.
In utilizing the power and convenience of electronic mail, we understand that our protocol will exclude a large fraction of potential participants who do not have access to the
relevant technology, and so our test also will be of a restricted version of the small world hypothesis. Nevertheless, the population of Email users globally is estimated to be of the
order of 100 million people, which is a significant social network by any measure, and one
that is surely large enough to yield statistically reliable results.