Zero Degrees of Seperation

Wed, 09 May 2007 15:12:01 GMT
by pdp

Everyone is no more than six "steps" away from each person on Earth. Wikipedia

For those who are not familiar with the idea behind the Six Degrees of Separation I recommend that you check the Wikipedia link at the top before going any further.

To sum up, the Six Degrees of Separation depicts our small world. On average, everyone on this planet is reachable within six steps. This means that there are around six people between me and George Bush Jr. for example. I've read quite a lot of on this matter but I've never really though about it until today.

One of the things I realized today is that there could be some shortcuts in the entire process. How many degrees/steps are there between my and Paris Hilton? Any suggestions? Well, the answer is zero. Between me and Paris there are no other steps just like between me and you, the reader. By giving unrestricted access to anyone who is interested in visiting this website, I unintentionally create a shortcut. You can leave a comment for this post and I will probably respond. There is nothing that separates us from communicating. Welcome to the digital age.

The reason I mentioned Paris Hilton is because I found out that she has a MySpace account, which brought the entire flow of thoughts responsible for this post. A few moments later after my initial discovery and within a few searches on Google, I found dozens of other celebrities who have MySpace accounts as well.

Why is that interesting? Well, let's put it this way: if you are celebrity and some guy has basic skills in Web Application Security, how long it would take him to break into your personal computer. Now, this is a very good question. Paris and the rest of the celeb gang are probably not aware of what is currently going on MySpace, security wise. By visiting her profile, she exposes herself to dangers that go far beyond the paparazzi menace?

Paris Hilton is probably used to this sort of stuff. Not that long time ago, someone broke into her T-Mobile account and stole some quite sensitive pictures. We haven't seen that happening on a regular basis with other celebs but that will probably change in the future. Celebrity Hackers? How about a terrorist organization which influenced the entire decision making process of a political party just because some of their members visit a particular site. Impossible? If you haven't noticed the web is the Wild West. Everything is possible.

I will leave you with these thoughts for now. Will celebrities start hiring Cyber Angels to keep them safe from the rest of the cruel world? I don't know. All I know is that Stanley Milgram's Six Degrees of Separation theory needs to be paraphrased and greatly restructured.

Archived Comments

Also keep in mind what you might perceive to be zero degrees of separation might actually be closer to six. Not every blog, *official* website, or social networking page for a particular individual or organization may be legitimate or truly run by them. In some cases a publicist may be running the website. In others it's just a lunatic with nothing better to do. With that you quickly go reach six degres of separation.
Steven, yes, I agree. However, the web greatly reduces the necessary steps. Between you and any other person on this planet there are a number of routers which will put you though the next node as long as you provide a valid destination address. In case of the web, you have a particular site that separates you from that other person. Knowing how subjective to abuse web technologies are, this, in general, is a quite scary thought.
Whats even stranger to me, is that I can have a closer connection to someone famous, than with some of my old friends. Having graduated ten years before any of the online social networking took off, many friends don't have myspace, but paris hilton does. In our bizarre society, its more socially acceptable to approach a celebrity I've never met, than some one I used to go to school with. There is a diminished expectation of privacy with celebs. I think all celebs are o degrees of separation from everyone, but us mortals are still 6 degrees form each other.
There are probably at least 6 hops of routers between us all...
Well, the answer is zero. Between me and Paris there are no other steps just like between me and you, the reader
First of all, the answer isn't zero. The only person at zero step from you is yourself - each person you know is one step away from you. So, maybe, it would be one step. Second, you're drawing shortcuts where there's none. The arcs in the graph of connectedness are about knowledge. People you know and that know you. The latter is important - we all "know" the President, or major stars, or socialite Paris Hilton. Does that mean we have only a single step in the connection graph? No. Because the President, or Ms Hilton doesn't know you. The social web system is a wonderful tool to densify the connection graph. But the mere existence of a page doesn't create an arc in it - its use creates one. To have an arc connecting us, it would take discussion (by posting this, I am creating the arc... assuming you read it). If you accept directed, non reciprocal arcs, then yes, Ms Hilton is one step from you. But then, how many steps are you from her?
Vincent, thanks. From the attacker's prospective, it doesn't really matter whether their victim knows them. All they care is that in the virtual world there is only one step (as you pointed in your respond) that separates them. This means, that if the attacker gains control of the communication medium, they will also be able to get closer to their victim.
Dr. DapoDr. Dapo
Everybody above me --their views on this critical issue of is too simplistic. I am talking about the seriousness of seperation--between one human being from another. We are here at thic global village called earth or planet. Why in the world Indo-Europeans like to seperate themselves from other groups--other ethnic groups. From my understanding--very positively we are human beings are interconnected--interwoven. Everything is the same--except artificial areas of our lives.Green eyes, blue eyes, black hair, brown hair--and so forth. The human sepration has become a catastrophy. It has enabled us to develop weapons of mass detruction. We can decimate human race-the whole people on earth with our deadly madness--weapons. What is the deal? We are brothers and sisters. Pass the cookies.