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The Six Degrees of GCTs

November 11, 2008

You may be familiar with the game, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. The challenge of the game is to connect every film actor to Kevin Bacon in six cast lists or less. The game was developed in 1994 by some students at Pennsylvania’s Albright College. Today, it exists in several formats including a board game and a web site generator.

6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon Generator

6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon Generator

It all started in 1967 when  Stanley Milgram, an American Sociologist decided to test what he termed the “small-world problem”. He randomly chose a few people in the mid-West and had them send packages to complete strangers in Massachusetts. Each package had an ultimate target destination, which Milgram estimated it would take hundreds of exchanges to reach, but the experiment proved him wrong.  The packages arrived to their pre-determined recipients in (on average) between five and seven exchanges. According to articles published on Milgrim’s experiment,  his findings inspired the phrase “six degrees of separation.”

Lots of others have jumped on this craze though.  There’s John Guare’s play, Six Degrees of Separation which premiered in 1990. There’s also the movie by the same title released in 1993.

In August 2008, Microsoft set out to test the theory of the 6 Degrees of Separation. Using data from their Microsoft Messenger instant-messaging network in June 2006 (equivalent to roughly half the world’s instant-messaging traffic at that time):

  1. They looked at 180 billion different pairs of users in the database
  2. They found that the average length to connect two users was 6.6 hops
  3. 78 per cent of the pairs could be connected in seven steps or fewer

And then there’s the 6 Degrees of Wikipedia.

I choose to go from Google to Education and these were my results:

I would need only 2 clicks – - Google – - Ann Arbor, Michigan – - Education

6 Degrees of Wikipedia

6 Degrees of Wikipedia

6 Degrees of GCTs
There are now over 250 GCTs and we’re about to welcome 50 more. How are we all connected to each other? Before we used Social Bookmarking tools like Delicious and Diigo and Social Networking tools like Twitter, Plurk and Facebook would it have taken 6 hops to get to each other? Maybe. But I think we’ve got a really strong network of dedicated educators who need maybe two hops at the most to reach each other. I’m really proud to be part of such a strong community.

cert_teacher1

By the way, for those of you who were asking about the video I created for my application back in 2007, the old link is active, but it doesn’t come up in any search queries. I’ve re posted it here.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 15, 2008 9:50 pm

    Excellent content…keep up the good work!

  2. November 16, 2008 11:23 am

    Great post. I think you’re right about the two hops for GTA. Just look at what happened at Educon last year… Many of us had already become networked before we got there. Same thing seems to be happening with each new GTA group. This will indeed be interesting for the researchers!

  3. November 16, 2008 1:03 pm

    Alice – I wonder how this will change Educon this year?! I’m looking forward to going, but I do have in the back of my mind that it may be very different.
    I hope you are planning to go!
    Lisa

  4. November 24, 2008 7:39 am

    When I came back and was telling my students about GTA I also made reference to the Kevin Bacon Game. Funny how virtual PLNs are cutting down the number of degrees of separation.

  5. November 24, 2008 8:57 am

    Paul – thanks for your comment. Virtual networks are making the world a smaller place. I appreciated your comments at the GTA – thanks so much!!
    Lisa

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