London, England, UK–With over 14 billion pages on the internet, one would certainly assume there be a great level of disconnect–perhaps only a several thousands or a few million having some tenuous tie to one another. But that notion is far from accurate.
A new study finds that every single page on the web is separated–or rather marginally adjoined–by just 19 clicks. The degree of separation, which seems impossible to fathom, is actually a product of human nature, according to Albert-Laszlo Barabasi of Northeastern University’s Center for Complex Network Research in Boston. Dr. Barabasi explains the internet is an interconnected hierarchy, therefore it is categorically organized.
That means no matter how far you fall down the rabbit hole of the oldest site on the internet, you’ll still just be 19 short clicks away from landing on Wikipedia’s page explaining the term “rabbit hole” or a Bugs Bunny cartoon featuring a sign pointing to a rabbit hole.
Ironically, Dr. Barabasi, the man who came up with the theory published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, is himself living proof of this phenomenon that sounds so much like the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. The physicist actually appeared alongside icon American actor Kevin Bacon in the documentary “Connected: The Power of Six Degrees.”
Because the internet is actually organized by subject material through the process of people linking to a from sites with a common theme, there’s only a short distance from one to the next. For instance, someone studying engineering might find a page with an explanation of the conservation of angular momentum, which he would then link to on his page about the basics of the coefficient of friction.
The study reports that because of human behavior, people using the internet–as well as search engines indexing sites–cause such connections to exist.