A cool 6 degrees

In 1929, a Hungarian author named Frigyes Karinthy wrote a short story called chains. In Chains, a member of the group bets everyone else that they could name any person alive in the world, and using only 5 steps, they could be linked using acquaintances of members of the group. This was based on Karnthy’s notion that as the steps in the chain grew, as did the amount of possible connections. By 5 steps, he believed that there was no person alive that could not be linked in some way or another. This is widely regarded as the precursor to the six degrees of separation.

Let me give you a quick example of how cool this theory is. My Dads best friend from childhood, Simon, was in the RAF for a long time. During his service, his regiment was instructed to look after the Queen for a term. During this, Simon and the Queen became good friends. This means that in only 2 steps, I can be linked to the Queen. So in only 3 steps, I can be linked to all of the cool people the Queen knows- Prime Ministers, Presidents, sports stars and celebrities. This means that in only 4 steps, all you guys can be linked to these people, through me.

This was nothing but theory and speculation until the 1960’s, where a psychologist from Harvard, Stanley Milgrim did an experiment called The Small World Experiment. Have you ever been travelling, or at a friends party, and when you get chatting to someone, they are friends with someone from your hometown, or used to date one of your friends brothers? This is the Small World Theory.

Further work was done on this by a man called Manfred Kochen, in a paper called Contact and Influences. Despite the incredibly low computing power that existed back then, in 1973, simulations were ran to see how connected people were across the US population. They found that if you were alive in America in the 1970’s, you could be linked to anyone in only 3 steps. That’s 211 million people, all connected by a chain of three friends or less. The most humble of people, could be linked to Hollywood stars, Football players, criminals, businessmen and anyone else in the hotpot of diversity that America has. I don’t know if this thought is comforting or scary.

Lets move on to the 90’s now, specifically 1994. Being the year I was born, 1994 could be considered the greatest year in human history. If any of you guys have been to uni, or college before, you’ll know how much time is spent thinking of ways to waste time. Never before had I experienced free time and freedom like I did at uni. I can only assume the same applied to three students, at Alrbright College in Pennsylvania, who came up with the game, “The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. This game involved taking any actor/actress in Hollywood, and using less than 6 steps, linking them to Kevin Bacon. As stupid games have the habit of doing, this spread like wildfire, popularising the theory.

It is important to say now, that it’s very probable that at no point in human history has there ever been a perfect 6 degrees of separation- or if there has, it was only around for a very short period of time. The phrase itself has simply become a commonly used saying, and is more used to hit home how connected we all are. With the population skyrocketing, and ways we stay connected evolving and adapting, our connectivity is only increasing. For the first time in human history, thanks to the internet, we have the wealth of human knowledge at our fingertips. With this, comes connection to people all over the world.

With the number of people becoming online constantly growing, (in the past year, 300 million more people have moved online) it is safe to say that the degrees of separation between everyone is growing. All it takes is for one person in a remote village get internet, and make a connection with someone in the states, and all of a sudden their entire village is connected with America’s network. Since 2008, Facebook has been monitoring the degree of connectivity between all of their users. In just 8 years, its has gone from an average of 5.28, to 3.57. Imagine what it will be like in another 10 years.

Although other networking sites are great at keeping people connected, and showing how many mutual friends you and a stranger on Facebook has, we think there is more to be done with this. We think being able to follow the actual chain that the 6 degrees of separation is about, and being able to interact with the people in this chain could be amazing. Being able to strike up conversation with someone on the other side of the world who shares a similar interest in you, or even just finding out that there is someone in the world who likes exactly what you do could be brilliant. Which is where Bounce It wants to come in. We want there to be a chain of connections that can put your content in front of anyone in the world. Who knows, you may even make a new friend.

So go on, give it a download, and make sure to follow me and send me some content. My username is ‘Jack’; https://bounceitsocial.app.link/Zo91ZZC5FD

And as always, feel free to email me, at ‘jackfrancis@bounceit.net’. I’d love to hear from you.

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