Friday, December 2, 2011

Keeping Your Distance
Maintaining a buffer zone between you and your internet neighbor isn’t as easy as it used to be.  As much as you may want to keep your personal space…the world, or at least the distance between each of us, is shrinking.
Facebook’s gnomes announced the findings of their recent research. Ready?  You’re all a little closer to each other than you think.  They gave the third degree to the stats and squeezed out data that shows we are all separated by only 4.7 degrees of separation as opposed to the commonly held belief of six degrees confirmed by Microsoft in 2008. That degree of separation was derived from Microsoft’s own research of connectivity between users of their instant messaging.
Without doubt, Facebook is the undisputed king of connections with 800 million users worldwide and 500 million daily log-ons. Those numbers can make any marketer drool.

According to Facebook, "While 99.6 per cent of all pairs of users are connected by paths with five degrees (six hops), 92 per cent are connected by only four degrees (five hops). And as Facebook has grown over the years, representing an ever larger fraction of the global population, it has become steadily more connected. The average distance in 2008 was 5.28 hops, while now it is 4.74."

Okay, enough with the numbers, you say. I agree. Let’s look at the practical side. Cozy up. You’re now a little more closely linked than you thought to Beyoncé, Leonardo DiCaprio, Faith Hill, Bill Gates, Donald Trump, or the guy who does your dry-cleaning… assuming of course that they are all on Facebook.
If you think you may be feeling the hot breath of your internet connections on your neck, you could be right—especially if they are in the same country.  Facebook also found that when users were in a single country the distance between connections drops to only three degrees of separation, or four hops.
What does this all mean? In theory you are within a few mouse-clicks of 800 million people. The US population is  311 million…think about it.
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