Definition

from What Is website

Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. The theory was first proposed in 1929 by the Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy in a short story called "Chains."

In the 1950's, Ithiel de Sola Pool (MIT) and Manfred Kochen (IBM) set out to prove the theory mathematically. Although they were able to phrase the question (given a set N of people, what is the probability that each member of N is connected to another member via k_1, k_2, k_3...k_n links?), after twenty years they were still unable to solve the problem to their own satisfaction. In 1967, American sociologist Stanley Milgram devised a new way to test the theory, which he called "the small-world problem." He randomly selected people in the mid-West to send packages to a stranger located in Massachusetts. The senders knew the recipient's name, occupation, and general location. They were instructed to send the package to a person they knew on a first-name basis who they thought was most likely, out of all their friends, to know the target personally. That person would do the same, and so on, until the package was personally delivered to its target recipient.

Although the participants expected the chain to include at least a hundred intermediaries, it only took (on average) between five and seven intermediaries to get each package delivered. Milgram's findings were published in Psychology Today and inspired the phrase "six degrees of separation." Playwright John Guare popularized the phrase when he chose it as the title for his 1990 play of the same name. Although Milgram's findings were discounted after it was discovered that he based his conclusion on a very small number of packages, six degrees of separation became an accepted notion in pop culture after Brett C. Tjaden published a computer game on the University of Virginia's Web site based on the small-world problem. Tjaden used the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) to document connections between different actors. Time Magazine called his site, The Oracle of Bacon at Virginia, one of the "Ten Best Web Sites of 1996."

In 2001, Duncan Watts, a professor at Columbia University, continued his own earlier research into the phenomenon and recreated Milgram's experiment on the Internet. Watts used an e-mail message as the "package" that needed to be delivered, and surprisingly, after reviewing the data collected by 48,000 senders and 19 targets (in 157 countries), Watts found that the average number of intermediaries was indeed, six. Watts' research, and the advent of the computer age, has opened up new areas of inquiry related to six degrees of separation in diverse areas of network theory such as as power grid analysis, disease transmission, graph theory, corporate communication, and computer circuitry. 

A site called Six Degrees, launched in 1997, is considered  to be the first social networking site and the precursor of sites like Facebook and Twitter which have effectively lowered the number of intermediaries in the chain, arguably to almost zero. 

The Six Degrees of Separation

What is it all about?

Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. The theory was first proposed in 1929 by the Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy in a short story called "Chains."

Why is it included in this Website?

Why not? I've actually had an amazing life even if I say so myself! The majority of this web-site covers my interests and that of my husband Andrew. It also covers our families and ancestry - a good eclectic mix of Polish, Cornish, Hungarian and British! There is also room for my opinions! After all I am paying for the privilege and some experiences have to be read to be believed - especially government bodies! I know my late friend Anna used to enjoy reading those exchanges!

What, to date, the site hasn't covered are the remarkable journeys that I've taken. Not only in the geographical sense but also experiences - like the latest that comes to mind is my 'brush' with Richard III who was re-interred with due dignity on 26th March 2015 in Leicester Cathedral.

When I say 'my brush' it means that as far as I am concerned there are a lot fewer 'intermediaries' than the five required for the 'six degrees of separation.' In some cases I have, of course, allowed for 'poetic licence' but then without it some of the stories might be quite dry.

I had originally intended that this section should be separate to the rest of the site - but there may well be a lot of crossing and linking about as I've already discovered with the need to refresh this section (losing all my original material in the process - typical!). I really should explain that I was able to re-create my notes etc. by downloading back from my website.

When I started this section the 'Home/Index' page contained the story of my brush with the horrors at 'Katyń' both during the war and recently in 2010. This is an area of my Father's life and so it now features, more appropriately in the dedicated 'My Family' area.

In short, this section is being held for what might potentially have been the autobiography I always wanted to write which was to be entitled "My brush with" ..... Meaning that I may possibly have had "6 degrees of separation" brushes with some of my all time favourite people whom I've never met, but did meet those who know them or are related to them etc. SPOILER : There will be some serious name dropping.

Just to start the proceedings - Leslie Phillips, the adorably 'loveable Leslie' has long been a great favourite of mine, mostly thanks to his participation in 'The Navy Lark' which I listened to in the 1960s and now listen too mostly daily as I am building up the whole series on CD. - So what are the links (brushes)? I worked with Angela Scoular, his second wife, at Nottingham Playhouse on a production of Shakespeare's 'Tempest'. Angela and Stephanie Beacham both had 'yappy' dogs at the time which used to scrap with each other backstage much to the chagrin of both ladies!

I then discovered another link, this time to Hucknall, our Leslie made a smutty film called 'Byron's Mine' here!

Then (who says these degrees of separation are just an over-active imagination?) linking to the production of 'The Tempest' mentioned above, was Paul Freeman who played Prince Ferdinand to Angela's Miranda. Paul was so pleasant and nice and he ended up in my favourite soap 'Falcon Crest' - or is that another coincidence? It's difficult to tell them apart. And through Stephanie Beacham who starred in two great favourite series of mine 'Tenko' and 'Connie' I met the McEnery brothers - John married Stephanie and Peter directed Richard III!

Biba - another much closer link than with the five intermediaries - as you will see there is an entire section devoted to my idol Barbara Hulanicki and the halcyon days of 'Biba' which I lived, breathed and dreamed in the 1970s. Not only did we meet and become friends with the Porters (Tony and Bea) but Bea is Barbara's sister. Tony was also a 'Friend of the Midland' and features in my articles where relevant! Of course they also owned Burgh Island which is where we met them and that brings everything back to my love of Art Deco.

For more future ideas have a look here

'Coincidences are Signposts'

Who said that?

I'm not absolutely certain where I came across this, but I honestly think it was something written by HRH, the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles. Am I counting that as a link to 6 degrees or a 'brush' - no, it's just that, until I started revising this page I had not found a definition for the 'Six Degrees of Separation' as found on the What Is site. Having now read it and seen that it was first "proposed as a theory in 1929 by the Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy" that the hair on the back of my neck stood up - my Mother has Hungarian forefathers and the family name of Hajos still exists in Kraków and Zawoja in Poland. How's that for a coincidence? But yes, I do have a link to Prince Charles - and it all happened at the Television Centre in White City in the 1970s.

Birth Dates

27th April

My birthdate - 27th April (Taurus) - when I was growing up there were birthdays close but not on the 27th - my late friend Anna was on the 25th and a classroom pupil on the 29th. The first time I came across a shared date was in 1971 when I went to study in Lancaster and lived in digs on Dallas Road. My landlord who was a senior chef at a prestigious hotel in Manchester (we only saw him at weekends) shared my birth date. Later on, I discovered that my landlady's best friend (French by birth) was also born on the 27th. She was so thrilled that she gave me a glass beaded necklace that I treasure to this day (note to self - need to take a photo!). She was the widow of a jeweller (of course she was, just to add to the links that bind us) and I gave her a little bijou trinket encased in the popular material of the time - she was thrilled. Fast forward to 2016 - you may have seen the story I featured about the paraplegic cat Sir Toby Toblerone - I discovered this year that his carer, Julie (Mum), was celebrating her 50th birthday on the 27th, added to that Toby had been to visit some schoolchildren so that they could see how, even with disabilities, he could live a fulfilled life - the school, where his 'Dad' works was the chosen venue and it just happened to be sited on Dallas Road! In between 1971 and this latest discovery on 2016 I had another couple of significant mutual birth date coincidences. The first is my very good friend Jenny whom I met when working for Nottinghamshire Constabulary (as it was) - I was covering for a colleague who was absent on long-term sick leave and as such had to carry out senior duties in addition to those of my own. One of these was to offer employment to successful interviewees after certain checks had been carried out. Naturally I noticed immediately when actioning these checks that Jenny and I shared a birthdate and she and my sister shared the same year of birth so I felt comfortable with the idea of her right away! On being offered the post Jenny was very excited and she seemed friendly so I mentioned our joint birth dates which seemed to excite her even more. Time passed and we hadn't really got in touch with each other but then I was sent on a Supervisor's course as it had been decided that I was going to stay in the higher graded position for some time. At the start of the course, the facilitators said they wanted to try as specific ice-breaker which involved all of us introducing ourselves briefly and at the end stating our birth date. They told us that in a class of over 20 people it was a dead cert that at least two of us would share a birthday - we all looked on in disbelief. Third in and it was Jenny and I remembered her name, and when she said 27th April she looked at me, when I blurted out of turn that it was my birth date too, and said 'I know who you are' - we haven't looked back since. She came to my wedding and I have shared two significant decades of anniversaries with her! We are still close! Between 1971 and 1991 when Jenny and I met, I came across two other colleagues at the Police who had the same date but we did not have any affinity and of course with the advent of the internet, in and around 1998, and Facebook so many of us are now discovering shared birthdays. Two that stand out are one lady who is from the 'Angélique' group and another from the 'Cat Who' group both of whom are very dear to me - quite a coincidence eh? And just to add another friend to this group of 'shared birthdays' is my Car restorer's girlfriend who used to work at the local Cat Shelter. The young apprentice who resprayed my car (her first) misses out by a smidgeon belonging to this group, she will be 21 on the 26th of April this year (close enough!)

May 18th

How many of us know that Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła) 1920-2005 and Fred Perry 1909-95 shared a birth date of 18th May? How could that not be a coincidence? Poland > Kraków > My Mother > Jerzy Fedorowicz / Tennis > my passion for the game > Agnieszka Radwańska > Kraków > Poland

October 13th

I'm still looking to find something positive to do with this date as in 1984 (a chilling prospect in its Orwellian self) my leg broke spontaneously - no trauma - supracondylar it's called!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Page refreshed : 15th March 2017