START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

It's a Small Internet After All: The Whole Web Is Connected in 19 Clicks or Fewer


Science & Tech  (tags: investigation, NewTechnology, world, technology, research, internet )

JL
- 575 days ago - slate.com
Everybody is familiar with "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," right? Well, according to a Hungarian physicist, the Internet works basically the same way.



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

Comments

JL A. (275)
Sunday February 24, 2013, 7:00 pm

It’s a Small Internet After All: The Whole Web Is Connected in 19 Clicks or Fewer

By Jason Bittel

|

Posted Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, at 12:21 PM
Share on Facebook
64
11

159126048
The Internet is sort of like Kevin Bacon's career

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Everybody is familiar with “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” right? Well, according to a Hungarian physicist, the Internet works basically the same way. Despite there being something like 1 trillion pieces of Web out there (websites, hosted images, videos, etc), you can navigate from any one of them to another in 19 clicks or fewer.

I have a sneaking suspicion you may not be all that impressed by this, given how much we take for granted the near omnipotence of sites like Google. But you’re probably underestimating how many cat videos go into a trillion.

Unlike connecting Hitler to Kevin Bacon, Albert-László Barabási’s conclusions are no party trick. His analysis (which is actually two years old but was just recently published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society) showed that whether you look at a small cross-section of pages or the whole shootin’ match, 19 clicks should be more than enough to get you to the center of that Tootsie Pop. This information could help change the way we gird our most important Internet structures.

The truth is, the vast majority of the sites online aren’t all that linky, especially with the sorts of random connections necessary to traverse the expanse of cyberspace in fewer than 20 clicks. A bank’s website, for instance, is rather unlikely to get you anywhere near a meet-up site for Furries. (Phew.)

This means a relatively small number of sites make up a disproportionate amount of the clickiness—sites like Reddit (aggregators), Google (search engines), and Wikipedia and the Internet Movie Database (indexes). This is where things get potentially dangerous. If a handful of sites enable most of the Web’s circuitry, a cyber attack or outage could theoretically leave huge swaths of Web stranded from one another. We witnessed a version of this silicon butterfly effect last June when a Facebook hiccup affected the traffic of major media sites in the United States. Big deal, you say, we can just go directly to those media sites if something goes wrong. Well, yes, we are free to do so. But the numbers show that when the all-powerful Facebook was down, we did not. Perhaps it never occurred to us to see if something interesting was happening over there. Perhaps we forgot we had the option. The Great Chain of Viral had broken down.

Even more worryingly, a brief Facebook “glitch” a couple of weeks ago actually brought down major sites like CNN and the Washington Post—or at least made them inaccessible for users logged into Facebook. This shows the potential danger of over-integration with Facebook or any other connector site. The results were far worse when Amazon’s cloud went down last fall and whole sites dropped out of the net, from Reddit and Airbnb to Pinterest and FastCompany.

So the good news is we’re more connected than ever. But that’s also the bad news.
 

Dave C. (214)
Sunday February 24, 2013, 7:15 pm
thanks.
 

JL A. (275)
Sunday February 24, 2013, 9:08 pm
You are welcome Dave
 

Christeen Anderson (493)
Monday February 25, 2013, 1:22 am
Quite interesting. Thank you for sharing.
 

Kath P. (10)
Monday February 25, 2013, 5:12 am
LOL...too funny
 

Rosa mc (47)
Monday February 25, 2013, 5:58 am
Thanks, but I still don't understand what the 6 degrees of Kevin bacon means. I'll have to take the time and Google the meaning.
 

Helen Porter (40)
Monday February 25, 2013, 6:19 am
19 huh?
 

JL A. (275)
Monday February 25, 2013, 6:31 am
You are welcome Christeen.
You cannot currently send a star to Kath because you have done so within the last week.
You cannot currently send a star to Zee because you have done so within the last week.
 

Birgit W. (144)
Monday February 25, 2013, 4:34 pm
Thanks
 

JL A. (275)
Monday February 25, 2013, 5:43 pm
You are welcome Birgit
 

Jeremy S. (2)
Monday February 25, 2013, 7:14 pm
I was a member of the Six Degrees of Separation social media website back in the mid-1990s (yeah, a long time ago now)--it's the same principle. Now with a cell phone in almost everyone's pocket (not mine until, grudgingly, recently), connectivity is reaching new heights. Or lows...
 

JL A. (275)
Monday February 25, 2013, 7:17 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Jeremy because you have done so within the last week.
 

june t. (65)
Monday February 25, 2013, 11:09 pm
interesting concept
 

JL A. (275)
Monday February 25, 2013, 11:16 pm
You cannot currently send a star to june because you have done so within the last week.
 

Robert O. (12)
Tuesday February 26, 2013, 12:34 am
Interesting to think about especially if one takes into consideration the laws of synchronicity and 6 degrees of separation.

Rosa, in a nutshell (and from wikipedia) the concept basically goes like this, " it rests on the assumption that any individual involved in the Hollywood, California, film industry can be linked through his or her film roles to Kevin Bacon within six steps. The game typically requires a group of players to try to connect any such individual to Kevin Bacon as quickly as possible and in as few links as possible."
 

Kerrie G. (135)
Tuesday February 26, 2013, 1:30 am
Noted, thanks.
 

Ruth L. (299)
Tuesday February 26, 2013, 2:54 am
Interesting - thanks for sharing.
 

John Gregoire (255)
Tuesday February 26, 2013, 5:32 am
tx
 

JL A. (275)
Tuesday February 26, 2013, 12:52 pm
Thanks for explaining it Robert! You cannot currently send a star to Robert because you have done so within the last week.
You are welcome Kerrie, Ruth and John
 

Sergio Padilla (62)
Friday March 1, 2013, 9:16 am
Cool..... Interesting.... Anyways, thanks!
 
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story


Loading Noted By...Please Wait

 

 
Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of Care2.com or its affiliates.