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It’s a small world. And getting smaller thanks to the worldwide web. Yahoo and The Social Network are teaming up to prove it is a small world, officially, by testing the 6 degrees of separation theory i.e. that there are 6 people separating us all.

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Is there just six people between us all? 

The ‘Small World Experiment’ spearheaded by the duo, is designed to test the hypothesis that anyone in the world can get a message to anyone else in just “six degrees of separation” by passing it from friend to friend. 

In 1967, the Harvard sociologist Stanley Milgram sent 300 letters to random people designed to reach  to a single “target” individual (a stockbroker in Boston) whom they did not know, and found that the letters did reach its destination in about 60 of the cases, with recipients passing it on to friends, colleagues and associates ‘closer’ to the individual. 

For years sociologists have sought to scientifically prove the theory. 

Now, using Facebook’s 750 million + users all connected in different ways, Yahoo scientists are looking to put social networking technology to the test and see if the hypothesis can be proved. 

“You really couldn’t have done this until very recently,” said Duncan Watts, Yahoo’s principal research scientist leading the experiment. 

“It’s a milestone, in terms of it’s the kind of research question you can answer now that you could have imagined 50 years ago but that you couldn’t have answered 50 years ago — or even 15 years ago.”

“By participating in this experiment, you’ll not only get to see how you’re connected to people you might never otherwise encounter, you will also be helping to advance the science of social networks,” say the research team. 

 

Join the experiment here. 



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