Friday, March 14, 2008

Social interactions

An article recently published by Nature magazine about social interactions is worth thinking about the unknown laws of nature as they apply on the subject of human interactions.

Two Microsoft researchers analyzed during the month of June 2007 all the traffic that took place via Microsoft Messenger around the globe. The stats are mind blowing. Thirty billion conversations with a quarter of a trillion messages exchanged among almost a quarter of a billion individuals from around the world during just one month.

The sample was huge and the researchers were looking for patterns, not the content of messages or the subjects of conversations. Read the article for more interesting stats about the sample. The point of interest they discovered though is a seemingly fresh confirmation of the famous six degrees of separation that Stanley Milgram of the Harvard University established in a 1967 experiment.

What this means is that they found that if you selected two chatters at random, say one from Rio de Janeiro and another from Beijing, then you need an average of 6.6 steps to reach one from another. That means that the guy or gal from Rio connects thru Messenger to another guy or gal from say US who connects to some guy or gal to Moscow, who connects... until the guy or gal in Beijing is reached... in just six to seven connections. The magic number six as the degree of separating anyone in the globe of 6 billion people to anyone else seems to hold for mega samples compared to the hundreds involved in the Milgram experiments.

Mind blowing, innit?

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