Closer Than You Think

This article on PhysicsWeb blew my mind. The findings are pretty significant:

  • Every site on the web can be connected to any other site via, at most, nineteen clicks
  • There is a numerical model that describes how likely a page is to be linked by another page (which the authors call “competitive fitness”: ki(t) ~= tß(eta), where the coefficient eta is described by the authors as “good up-to-date content and a friendly interface”

These are just the tip of the iceberg. It does suggest, pretty strongly, that whatever the “eta” factor represents, website authors are strongly encouraged to take advantage of it. From my experience, I’d say that more goes into “eta” than the authors of the site know. Some of it depends on having content that’s interesting to a particular website author. Dave tends to link to people who write about topics that are near and dear to him. I tend to try to link to “authoritative” sources. Is coolness part of “eta”?

Nineteen degrees of click separation

So about the 19 clicks: I got some anecdotal evidence about how closely related people on the web are to each other. Perusing one of my favorite online comics, Bobbins, I was surprised to see a familiar name under the headline “What is Good?”: Jen Sorensen. Jen was a cartoonist at “Virginia” the last few years I was there, and did cartoons for the Declaration, including one memorable one with a kid up a flagpole in his underwear muttering my fourth year catchphrase: “Oh dear Christ.” (In my defense, I’ll note that fourth year was my year to change life direction, get ulcers and mono, and almost die of food poisoning, so if I said that a lot I probably had provocation.) Anyway, Jen kept drawing and now has a collection of her stuff available. Go look… it’s really good.