Feeds

Microsoft 'proves' six degrees of separation theory

All corporate news is six steps away from reality

High performance access to file storage

Microsoft researchers claim to have proved the pop-social-psychology shibboleth that we are no more that six degrees of separation removed from any other human being on the planet.

The six degrees of separation theory first espoused by Stanley Milgram has given students and newspaper columnists something to talk about since the late 1960s.

Researchers at Redmond apparently took it upon themselves to analyse messages sent by users of its IM service in June 2006. The database of messages – stripped of identifying information we are assured – yielded 180 billion pairs of users.

The researchers found that 78 per cent of the pairs could be connected in seven hops or less, and that the average number of hops from one individually to another was 6.2. However, before you start thinking that you might be able to get into Natalie Portman’s inbox by the end of the day, the researchers said some users could only be connected by 29 hops.

"What we're seeing suggests there may be a social connectivity constant for humanity," Eric Horvitz, one of the researchers told the Washington Post. "People have had this suspicion that we are really close. But we are showing on a very large scale that this idea goes beyond folklore."

Which is fine as long as you believe that humanity consists of people in rich countries who are rich enough to own computers and so time-rich they they can sit around playing on IM all day, rather than, say, growing food to feed their families.

Interestingly, a search of the Microsoft website throws up no details of the research, and all the coverage seems to be traceable back to the Washington Post story on Saturday.

Which simply demonstrates the long-held popular belief that 79 per cent of what you read is no more than seven degrees of separation away from a canned PR briefing from a comms professional to a tame journalist on a major newspaper. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support
Gov't IT likened to 'a Model T with a lot of things on top of it'
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.