6.6 DEGREES OF SEPARATION

5. August 2008, 16:37 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

A story that has been carried by numerous sources this week would seem to validate the “six degrees of separation” concept popularized in movie and trivia games.

Using data collected from Microsoft's Instant Messenger service, they found that any IM user in the world was no further away from any other contacts than 6.6 links. They studied more than 30 billion chat sessions, representing about 180 million users, over IM in June of 2006 to reach their conclusion - a sample more than 2 million times larger than that used in an earlier study.

Researchers Eric Horvitz of Microsoft and Jure Leskovec of Carnegie Mellon University, in a paper for a Microsoft backed investigation that was presented at the WWW 2008 conference in Beijing, say their in-depth study of instant messaging networks proves that all humans really are just six degrees from actor Kevin Bacon. Of course it also means you could be six clicks away from George W. Bush, Omar al-Beshir or even Osama bin Laden.

While the study has remarkable implications for understanding human interaction and social networking relationships, it also brings up that ever disquieting spectre of privacy intrusion and data use when you consider that the data was gleaned from private contact lists and chats by Microsoft on one of the largest internet messaging networks in existence. Such capability would be a profilers “wet dream”.

And who have YOU been messaging with today ?

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Categories: ,
Keywords: 6 degrees,separation,privacy,Microsoft,IM,messaging,chat

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