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"Email Updates Six Degrees Theory"

From: Graham Klyne <gk@ninebynine.org>
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2003 09:16:16 +0100
Message-Id: <>
To: RDF interest group <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>

A snippet for FOAFers...

# "Email Updates Six Degrees Theory"
Technology Research News (09/03/03); Patch, Kimberly

Columbia University researchers have validated the small-world phenomenon 
first discovered by Stanley Milgram's famous 1967 sociology study, but have 
shown some of the associated hypotheses to be wrong. Rather than starting 
letter chains aimed at finding a specific individual, the Columbia 
researchers recruited 24,163 volunteers to send emails to acquaintances who 
they thought might know the target or someone close to that person; out of 
the 24,163 original chains, only 384 reached the 18 target persons by way 
of 166 countries and a total of 61,168 email messages. The researchers 
surveyed participants to find out why they did or did not forward the 
email, and why they chose their contact if they did forward it. The 
successful chains reached their target in five to seven steps, on average, 
similar to Milgram's study; but analysis of those successful chains showed 
participants chose contacts based on geography and their field of work, not 
on their social connectedness, as was hypothesized in Milgram's work. 
Cornell University applied mathematics professor Stephen Strogatz says the 
study confirms the basic tenet of a small-world model, but reveals methods 
that Milgram did not have the resources to investigate. Other conclusions 
show that more numerous, weak friendships are better for connectedness than 
close friendships that are insular. Ohio State University sociology 
assistant professor Jim Moody says the study will help understand 
widespread email communication and the proliferation of viruses. Columbia 
research scientist Peter Sheridan Dodds says a similar study is being 
designed that will allow participants to send the message to more than one 
contact and will ask more questions about their methods. He says the 
research has implications for peer-to-peer networks and knowledgebases, as 
well as social, pathological, and economic fields of study.
Click Here to View Full Article

Graham Klyne
Received on Thursday, 18 September 2003 04:41:01 UTC

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