1. aguywhotypes

    aguywhotypes Active Member

    Jul 24, 2013
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    Aiken, SC, United States

    How does 6 degrees really work?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by aguywhotypes, Dec 4, 2017.

    6 degree type of stories are fascinating. I want to make sure I understand how they work.

    you have 6 characters mc1-mc6.

    so mc1 is somehow linked and knows mc2 - how mc1 and mc2 can be anything, correct?
    mc1 only knows mc2, would they know about 3,4,5,6? I guess they could depending on the relationship be mc2 and mc3, yes?

    ok moving on:

    Then mc2 knows mc1 as well as mc3, but she wouldn't know 4,5 or 6 correct?

    and so forth down the line. What this is suppose to show is that mc1 knows mc6 through 4 other people along the way?

    and isn't the story more fantastic when mc1 is a "nobody" in society and mc6 is some famous person, correct?

    I would appreciate any steerage along these thoughts.
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

    Jan 8, 2017
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    Rhode Island
    Short answer is that any two people in the world can be connected through only for 4 intermediaries (I believe this started with the Kevin Bacon movie game, but you get the idea). This would work for me and the President of Thailand. Or my three-year-old niece and Sylvester Stallone.

    As far as applying this to writing, I don't see how it would be noteworthy since most characters in the book are already connected by virtue of landing in the same story, regardless of what it is about. And assuming they're located in a similar geographic area or in orbit around the same general plot points, I'd think they'd be much closer in their associations without having to run the full six degrees. Unless, of course, you're shooting for the "everyone and everything is connected" vibe where disassociation is this gag of the story, which I suppose could work if it had something interesting to connect them.
  3. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

    Sep 17, 2017
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    It's portrayed that way, but in reality it's only fantastic until you stop and think that royalty aside, a famous person is usually the only famous person in their family, and each of those family members have their own circles of friends and associates. So, a famous person's Six Degrees chain will have a lot of non-famous people in it.

    A famous person is someone's son, daughter, brother, sister, in-law, grandchild, niece, nephew, high school classmate, or next door neighbor from childhood. That doesn't change when the person becomes famous, so most famous people have a mix of non-famous average people and famous people in their closest circle. You just don't see them because they're not interesting to photographers, and because many celebs guard their family members' and friends' privacy so their looniest fans don't stalk them.
    LostThePlot likes this.
  4. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

    Dec 31, 2015
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    Yes indeed. If you really looked into it I bet that almost all of us could find someone arguably famous withing a few links of ourselves. I can get to Malcolm McDowell in 4, and if you count 'people I used to know' then I can get to Emma Watson in 1 (I don't believe that he really touched her up, but he definitely was at the same prep school at the same time).

    To take it from another angle; think about how many people went to your school. You don't know all of them, but you know most people in your year to look at even if you don't know them well. So take 100 odd teenagers, each of whom will have their own life, will go to work and meet a large group of other people from outside that, and their families and friends and girlfriends are all just one link away.

    They say that you personally can at best hold maybe a hundred(ish) social relationships of every level with yourself. So take that and then multiply through. I have a hundred friends, relatives, acquaintances and co-workers that I can remember. Each of them has the same. So how many people could you be connected to in six steps? I know a hundred, and every one of them has another hundred. That makes for 100^6 people, which is a billion potential people within your potential social network. So is it that surprising to find that your mate's mum's ex-husband's second son married someone off big brother?

    To get back to the OPs original point; yes ideally you want all the links to be leading somewhere really good but I think you need to make it more than just 'someone famous' I think you need to make it someone who is both surprising and genuinely interesting, not just someone who had their pictures in the paper a few times a few years ago.
    Shenanigator likes this.

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