Zero Degrees of Seperation
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.
Well, the answer is zero. Between me and Paris there are no other steps just like between me and you, the readerFirst 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?