March 04, 2006

Big World

For a couple years now I've had an unfinished post, pretty much the only unfinished post I actually remember and think about, tentatively titled "six degrees of bullshit". I never finished it cause I could never figure out anything positive to work into it. The whole idea of "six degrees of separation", at the present at least, is one big urban myth. I've never found any compelling evidence for it's existence at all, but all that was left to write then was an attack. It never quite seemed fit to post.

Today something positive happened, I stumbled across Could It Be A Big World After All?(via Clay Shirky's, and now I can just use a link to someone else's work to do the criticism! It even includes a helpful section on why people are psychologically attached to the small world idea.

That article in addition is far more interesting then whatever I could have written, revolving around original work in digging through Stanley Milgram's archives of documentation. My own concern was mainly with the small worlds project and the strange discord between the media hype it generated about "proving" the six degrees thesis while it's actual main result was a massive collection of unfinished chains, proving, like Milgram, only that it's still really hard to map these social networks out...

The real positive though is in the branding, and as is often the case the answer was too obvious for me to see on my own. I'm not out attacking the six degrees/small worlds concept you see, I'm just pro big world theory. Nothing wrong with that is there?

Posted by Abe at March 4, 2006 08:14 PM

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