Six Degrees

Since I’m off on my hollies, here’s a bit of fun to keep my loyal fans busy.

Since I started my fab new job, Iíve spent a lot of my spare time downloading the contents of Radio 4’s “Listen Again” pages to my MP3 player to give me something different to listen to on the train: This is why, over the last few weeks, I’ve been enjoying an old series called “Take Five Numbers”, where maths genius Simon Singh tells us something about a particular number. One day last week I was listening to the programme based on the number 6, in which he told us about the various incarnations of the “Six Degrees of Separation” game. Most people know about the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, where you can link anyone who’s ever been in a film to Kevin Bacon, never using more than five intermediate actors: So for example, Barbara Windsor was in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, and so was the then child actor Phil Collins: Phil Collins was “Balto” with Kevin Bacon, so as the link only has two steps, Barbara Windsor has a Bacon number of two.

The whole thing started with a social networking experiment in America where people chosen at random had to get a message to a target person in Boston – the only rule being that they could only pass it on through intermediaries whom they knew by first name. The average chain length was six. A later version of the game – once e-mail had become popular – used e-mail to send messages from person to person around the world. Again, chains averaged at six links.

So, here’s our own Gottleblog version of the game: I’ve given you three challenges – take part in one or more and see how you get on.

  1. Click on a link to one of the websites I link to over on the right hand side. Then click on one of the links from that website, and keep going until you’ve made six moves: The only rule is that you mustn’t link back to a site you’ve already been to in the chain. After six moves, see where you’ve got to. You might find it most interesting to choose links that seem to take you as far as possible – in terms of geography or subject matter – each time, but that’s up to you.
  2. If you’ve got a bit more time, do a similar thing – but this time jumping from link to link, see how many steps it takes to arrive at the website of the British Antarctic Survey
  3. Finally – and this one’s a bit chain-letter-ish, so please be sensitive in who you include as not everyone likes them – an e-mail experiment. Cut and paste the following text into an e-mail and send it to one person you know:

    You’ve received this e-mail from someone you know as part of the Six Degrees project being conducted over at GottleBlog, www.g0tlg.34sp.com. Please feel free to not take part if you’re uneasy about it, but it’s only a bit of fun and we hope you’ll join in.

    Please forward this e-mail to one person you know: Only one, this isn’t a chain letter and we don’t want to fill people’s in-boxes with junk. As you forward it, please add one to the following number: 1. If the number is six, please don’t send it to anyone in your address book: Send it instead to 6degrees@duell.org.uk, and tell us a little bit about yourself: The town or city where you live, and one interesting fact about you, perhaps. Keep an eye on the GottleBlog website where we’ll publish the results once there’s been a reasonable amount of activity. Your e-mail address will not be published or retained, and you will receive TWO e-mails as a result of the project: The first will be an autoreply to thank you for taking part, the second to tell you when the results are published.

Send your webclicking results and any observations about the project to 6degrees@duell.org.uk and we’ll see what happens!

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