Monday, January 07, 2008

How many degrees again?

Happy New Year!

So to start the new year off a week late, I just couldn't resist commenting about a Facebook group many of my friends have been joining as of late. It's name is "6 degrees of separation" and was started by a man who recently published a thriller novel.

The group claims to be testing the idea of "6 degrees of separation" by seeing if everyone on Facebook can be added to the group. It asks its users to invite ALL of their Facebook friends to join the group, claiming that the experiment will not work otherwise.

I was personally struck upon reading the group description that this "experiment" (self titled "the most ambitious facebook experiment ever") will not work no matter whether or not its users invite all of their friends, even if every person receiving an invite joins the group. The main flaw I find is that there is absolutely no way to test how many degrees of separation were traversed between the group creator and any individual group member. All that is really being tested is how many people can be added to the group, akin to the groups with titles such as "If 1,000,000 people join this group, I will do XYZ."

What I suspect is that the actual reason behind this group is part of a great marketing ploy. I have also noticed that most of the group news and updates are about the group creator's book and his recent interviews about it. Although I do not know the truth behind the creation of this group, I would not be surprised if the group creator or his publicist thought it would be a great way to dupe people into joining a group geared toward promoting his new book. If so, it's quite clever. If not, it's sad to see that he actually thinks he's testing the six degrees of separation theory at all.

It's funny to note that there are currently 3,710,939 members, although sad to see that some of my friends are among them.

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