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Joshua made an interesting comment that the "new" idea that we reach one
another in 4.5 rather than 6 steps in the small world will be picked up
by the media and become a much-quoted factoid.  What difference does it
make, except in a public relations game?  Milgram's study was obviously
very general and imprecise anyway.  

Despite the fact that Nancy Howell Lee had, in 1969, made the point that
extended ties are in some cases much more important to individuals and
to communities than close personal ones, Mark Granovetter was lionized
when he labeled that effect the strength of weak ties in 1973.

Another case: Anthropologists had for generations known that all
transactions are embedded in sociocultural systems, long before
Granovetter (1985) was given the credit for "discovering"  embeddedness!
Sorry to use Mark in both these examples, but he has a knack for
attracting attention.

--Alvin Wolfe

-----Original Message-----
From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
Behalf Of Joshua O'Madadhain
Sent: Saturday, January 21, 2006 7:09 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: six degrees now 4.6?


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>> On Jan 21, 2006, at 4:50 AM, Darrell Berry wrote:
>>> Wondering if any of you socnetters has a view on, or references
>>> for the Economist's claim (January 21st 2006, A Survey of the  
>>> Company, p.2) that 'according to more recent work along the same  
>>> lines [as Milgram's 6-degrees study], that number has now fallen  
>>> to 4.6' due mostly, they infer, to organisationally- and  
>>> electronically-mediated networking?

> Valdis Krebs wrote:
>> It all depends what they are using as a definition of a "tie".   
>> You put the bar low enough and we can beat the  average of 4.6
>> steps easily.  For instance, how is everyone tied in this group --  
>> SOCNET?  Darrell, am I now "connected" to you, because I responded  
>> directly to your post -- even though by most definitions we are  
>> strangers?  We can probably come up with several, contrasting,  
>> definitions of what is a tie here, and therefore who is connected 
>> [directly and indirectly], and what the average distance is.   
>> Oh... is that a simple average or a weighted average?
>> Remember the old joke about looking for an accountant, and you ask  
>> each candidate:  "What does 1 + 1 equal?"  And supposedly the  
>> "ideal" candidate responds with: "What would you like it to be?"

On 21 Jan 2006, at 13:17, Darrell Berry wrote:

> Well that's nub of the question -- I was wondering if anyone know
> what study this referred to, and what the methodology was! I have  
> the horrible feeling that the meme they're suggesting here will be  
> picked up unquestioningly by other media outlets and become a much- 
> quoted factoid without any real substance to it!

You mean, more than "six degrees of separation" already is?  I don't  
see that it would make much of a difference if it were picked up: one  
largely substance-free much-quoted factoid would replace another.   
(I'm not running down Milgram's original study--far from it!--but its  
applicability, as Valdis points out, is far more constrained than the  
popular imagination would have it.)

Joshua O'Madadhain

jmadden@ics.uci.edu...Obscurium Per Obscurius...www.ics.uci.edu/~jmadden
Joshua O'Madadhain: Information Scientist, Musician, and Philosopher- 
At-Tall
   It's that moment of dawning comprehension that I live for--Bill  
Watterson
   My opinions are too rational and insightful to be those of any  
organization.

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