Wait, It’s Less Than Six Degrees of Separation?

Did you ever hear of the Kevin Bacon factor?

Image licensed under creative commons by Lauren (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cuttlefish/)

Image licensed under creative commons by Lauren (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cuttlefish/)

In 1994 Kevin Bacon claimed he had worked with everyone in Hollywood and some college kids decided that they would create a simple program to see if that was true; and the Six Degrees of Bacon game was born.

You can do a Bacon number search right in the Google search bar these days. Go on, try it. Bet you can’t get a number above three. (Just search Bacon number actor’s name…) So if Bacon is connected to everyone through his movies, how far are we from each other by internet links?

Why did I ask myself that question? Now I am in a deep internet vortex reading about mathematical network experiments done in the early 1900s – possibly where the six degrees of separation was first coined and I’m desperate to know if the internet has brought us closer together.

Back in the 60s the famous Small World experiment was carried out. You can watch the video below or read about it here


Fast forward to 2008 and Microsoft confirms that the theory is almost right (suggesting it was closer to 7) and then in 2011, thanks to Facebook, it seems we are closer to being separated by just four – a less trashy report can be found here and here. Important to note that the four degrees of separation only accounts for Facebookers, non-FB types are still distant connections. (BTW more than 24 million people are in my network of friends of friends of friends – check yours!)

So where does this bring us? Social media might have our profiles connected but what about our tweets and our blog posts? If we were to create a network where the nodes were your blogs and tweets and the edges were the comments and retweets (or links within blogs/tweets?) – what would that look like? (I want to take this course or this course to find out, and it sounds to me like an awesome math exploration!)

A simple model might look something like this:

photo 1   photo 2   photo 3

Then imagine this with our COETAIL cohort numbers and our tweets and links and profile tagging and then add the rest of the COETAILers and the rest of the edubloggers and then add a few more… Soon enough, this…

Image used under CC via https://www.flickr.com/photos/notbrucelee/

Image used under CC via https://www.flickr.com/photos/notbrucelee/



Full disclosure this is a twitter network but you get my point.





So with all of the connections it is in our power to reach a wide audience in just a few clicks of a link. And that, folks, is the key to it all. The link. Google needs those links! This video below is worth your time if you want a simple and straight forward explanation about how google works (and in turn you will see the value of the link!)


So go forth and link! Add valuable links to your posts and maybe others will link back to you (and give your page rank a boost in the process!)

4 comments to “Wait, It’s Less Than Six Degrees of Separation?”
4 comments to “Wait, It’s Less Than Six Degrees of Separation?”
  1. Great blog post! You’ve got me sitting down wanting to play with networks right now and I agree, I think it might be a great math investigation!

    Just to demonstrate some of what you wrote: I’m sitting here in Kuala Lumpur, but I know RJ in the physics department at Graded.

    • Thanks Wendy! I am obsessed with networks now and thinking that I will do one of the MOOCs I linked to. Maybe see if any students will do it with me (when will schools offer credits for kids to take a MOOC?

      I’ll say hi to RJ for you – the international teacher world is definitely less than 6 degrees of separation!

  2. Hi Ange

    Because of Coetail, I think my world has shrunk by at least two degrees. There is a teacher here in Switzerland that I met through Twitter. She then travelled to Asia and met up with one of the Coetail instructors.

    Also, one of my Coetail cohorts (Dan Slaughter) asked me to join his Global Codeathon. I couldn’t but I hooked him up with two teachers here in Switzerland whom I also met through Twitter. One of them, I haven’t met in “real life” yet either. So, once again my Coetail World and my other worlds have collided.

    If you look at this webpage https://globalcodeathon.unishanoi.org/participating-schools/ , the two schools from Switzerland are there because of connections I joined. Surreal. The world is such a small place, because of the Internet and also because the International School community is really connected.

    Well, that’s the spirit of International School and International Mindedness. We’re walking the walk.

  3. Wow! This is a fascinating post although you don’t know me I now am convinced that we’re probably only at 5 degrees of separation from each other through the international community of teachers (you do know some one who has worked in ICS Addis right?) or at least some one who is a friend of a friend? I love it!
    Thanks for sharing!

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