Friday, March 21, 2008

Six Degrees of Separation, The Law of Averages and Anonymity

I read with interest recently a post by Steve Jackson, an author, who is doing an experiment on the Six Degrees of Separation as research for a book he is currently writing. The experiment was done through Face Book, a popular social website that connects people together. Steve does not profess to be a scientist but his results were fascinating for me to read. I am finding out for myself, how our connections to others in the world are closer than we imagine just as Steve discovered through his experiment.

My husband and I are invited to join another couple on a motorcycle vacation. The plan is for three couples to enjoy some great riding in Colorado and Utah. Our friends have recently made a new acquaintance. Since the new friend shares a love for motorcycling as well, the vacation plan was hatched. I am pleased to be invited. The name of the new friend is unfamiliar to me. He and his girlfriend, we are told, are anxious to meet us and plan the summer trip to the West. After a few weeks, I learned that the girlfriend and I used to work together for the same company.

I met my friend while working in a development lab. It could be argued that since my friend works in technology, as does his new acquaintance, that the odds we may know each other would be higher in the law of averages. It can also be argued that the new acquaintance would also have, as a girlfriend, someone who was in the industry as well. Whichever you lean toward, the Six Degrees of Separation or the law of averages, it remains for me, evidence that anonymity may be following the dinosaur into extinction.

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