Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that everyone is approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth. A chain of, “a friend of a friend” statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy and popularised by a play written by John Guare.
Due to technological advances in communications and travel, friendship networks could grow larger and span greater distances. In particular, Karinthy believed that the modern world was ‘shrinking’ due to this ever-increasing connectedness of human beings. He suggested that despite great physical distances between the globe’s individuals, the growing density of human networks made the actual social distance far smaller.
As a result of this hypothesis, Karinthy’s characters believed that any two individuals could be connected through at most five acquaintances. In his story, the characters create a game out of this notion. He writes:
“A fascinating game grew out of this discussion. One of us suggested performing the following experiment to prove that the population of the Earth is closer together now than they have ever been before. We should select any person from the 1.5 billion inhabitants of the Earth—anyone, anywhere at all. He bet us that, using no more than five individuals, one of whom is a personal acquaintance, he could contact the selected individual using nothing except the network of personal acquaintances.”
This idea both directly and indirectly influenced a great deal of early thought on social networks. Karinthy has been regarded as the originator of the notion of six degrees of separation.
In 2001, Duncan Watts, a professor at Columbia University, attempted to recreate an original experiment on the Internet, using an e-mail message as the “package” that needed to be delivered, with 48,000 senders and 19 targets (in 157 countries). Watts found that the average (though not maximum) number of intermediaries was around six.
A 2007 study by Jure Leskovec and Eric Horvitz examined a data set of instant messages composed of 30 billion conversations among 240 million people. They found the average path length among Microsoft Messenger users to be 6.6 (some now call the theory, “the seven degrees of separation” because of this).
It has been suggested by some commentators that interlocking networks of computer mediated lateral communication could diffuse single messages to all interested users worldwide as per the 6 degrees of separation principle via Information Routing Groups, which are networks specifically designed to exploit this principle and lateral diffusion.
There have been new search techniques developed to provide optimal or near optimal solutions. The experiments are performed using Twitter, and they show an improvement of several orders of magnitude. The optimal algorithm finds an average degree of separation of 3.43 between two random Twitter users, requiring an average of only 67 requests for information over the Internet to Twitter. A near-optimal solution of length 3.88 can be found by making an average of 13.3 requests. – Wikipedia
Facebook’s data team released two papers in November 2011 which document that amongst all Facebook users at the time of research (721 million users with 69 billion friendship links) there is an average distance of 4.74. Probabilistic algorithms were applied on statistical metadata to verify the accuracy of the measurements. It was also found that 99,91% of Facebook users were interconnected, forming a large connected component.
Users on Twitter can follow other users creating a network. According to a study of 5.2 billion such relationships by social media monitoring firm Sysomos, the average distance on Twitter is 4.67. On average, about 50% of people on Twitter are only four steps away from each other, while nearly everyone is five steps away. In another work, researchers have shown that the average distance of 1,500 random users in Twitter is 3.435. They calculated the distance between each pair of users using all the active users in Twitter…
Yesterday a great deal of media column inches was dedicated to Facebook’s claim that they’d reduced the six degrees to below four, however, it would appear that their claim could be simply a public relations stunt given their social media tool lags behind Twitter’s empirical results. For the banking fraternity no such degree of separation exists, the inter relationship and contagion is immediate.
It’s fascinating to watch how the mainstream news is managed, it’s as though the short attention span of the general populous is groomed by a higher authority. Over recent weeks the main news items across many of the networks in Europe concerned Libya, Italy and Greece, casting a jaundiced eye over the tv news yesterday evening not one of the subjects were mentioned, neither was Iraq or Afghanistan, Egypt received a two minute spot despite tens of protestors being killed for objecting to the current interim military rulers. The only reference to the Eurozone crisis was Germany’s bond offering being circa 35% under subscribed, a complicated issue lost on many of the viewers. Similarly the looming general strike, due to take place in the UK on November 30th, was given no coverage despite the huge impact it will have, not least to the economic data the current coalition government obsess over.
Despite the advances and benefits of Twitter and Facebook in relation to communication, most clearly demonstrated by the Arab spring uprisings, the observation is that the mainstream news has never been more dumbed down with its delivery and content, the creation of the celebrity industrial complex being concrete evidence. Should this banking, sovereign debt crisis and social unrest explode when the austerity measures, (created by governments to ring fence the wealth of the political, banking and other elite groups), really take hold you have to wonder how the general populous will cope. The education on who, what, when, where, and why in the western media has been noticeably absent, the end result could be hysteria and panic given the degree of separation between banks and retail customers is only one..
U.S. financial markets are closed today for the Thanksgiving national holiday. German private consumption expanded 0.8 percent from the second quarter, the German Federal Statistics Office has reported. Gross domestic product advanced 0.5 percent from the previous three months, the office said, confirming an initial estimate published on Nov. 15, that was an acceleration from the 0.3 percent growth recorded in the second quarter.
The 17-nation shared currency climbed from a six-week low versus its U.S. counterpart as Germany’s Federal Statistics Office said company investment jumped in the third quarter, contributing to a 0.5 percent increase in output. The yen pared gains after Standard & Poor’s said Japan’s lack of progress in tackling its public debt burden puts it at risk of a credit-rating downgrade.
The euro rose 0.2 percent to $1.3373 at 8:06 a.m. London time, after slipping to $1.3320 yesterday, the lowest level since Oct. 6. The currency traded at 103.16 yen from 103.15. The yen climbed 0.2 percent to 77.14 per dollar, after earlier rising as much as 0.4 percent.
The shared currency tumbled 1.2 percent against the dollar yesterday after Germany received insufficient bids at a bond auction, fuelling concern that Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis is driving away investors from the region’s assets.
Market snapshot as of 9:15 am GMT (UK time)
Overnight and early morning saw mixed results from Asia. The Nikkei closed down 1.80%, the Hang Seng closed down 0.4%, the CSI closed up 0.19%. The main Australian bourse index the ASX 200 closed down 0.17%.
European markets have experienced mixed results in the early part of the morning session, the STOXX 50 is currently up 1.28%, the UK FTSE up 0.37%, the CAC up 1.37%, the DAX is up 1.31%. Brent crude is up circa 96 pips and gold is up $6 an ounce. The SPX equity future is currently up circa 1%.
Economic calendar data releases that may affect the sentiment for the afternoon session
There are no significant data releases for the afternoon given the USA market is closed due to the national Thanksgiving holiday.