diamond geezer

 Thursday, April 24, 2003

Six degrees of separation

You'll all no doubt be aware of the important research showing that American film actor Kevin Bacon is at the centre of the movie universe. It works like this. All film actors who have ever been in a film with Kevin Bacon have a Bacon Number of one. All film actors who have never been in a film with Kevin Bacon but have been in a film with somebody else who has, have a Bacon Number of two. And so on. Bacon Numbers were first postulated by Brett Tjaden, a computer scientist at the University of Virginia. The University hosts a great site where you can check out the Bacon Number of any film actor worldwide, courtesy of the Internet Movie Database. For example, Dame Thora Hird hashad a Bacon Number of 2, because she was in A Day To Remember (1953) with Donald Sinden, who was in Balto (1995) with Kevin Bacon. Exhaustive database research has shown that no actor is more than 8 connections away from Kevin Bacon (it's not 6, as most people believe). Statistics, however, show that only 0.02% of actors have a Bacon Number above 6, while the average Bacon Number is 2.94.

The whole Bacon thing was inspired by a 1960s experiment by Stanley Milgram, conducted to test how many stages it would take to contact a randomly selected 'target' person. If those taking part did not know the target, and it was extremely unlikely that they would, they sent a letter to someone who might be closer to the target. This continued in a chain until contact was made. The average number of steps required was six, coining the famous phrase "six degrees of separation". An updated email version of this experiment, called the Small World Research Project, is currently being conducted at the University of Columbia. All this research into the "small-world phenomenon" is based within a branch of pure mathematics called graph theory, which is essentially the study of networks. If you're a mathematician you might find this interesting. If you're a computer programmer you might find this interesting. And if you're neither, just read on...

Anyway, I've decided to invent a new concept for blogworld called the DG number. My blog has a DG number of 0. I'm DG(0). All blogs with a link from my blog have a DG number of 1. Let's call that list DG(1). All blogs with a link from a DG(1) blog have a DG number of 2. That's DG(2). And so on. For example, Volume 22 has a DG number of 1 because it's one of the twenty blogs listed in my sidebar. Volume 22 is DG(1). Utopia with cheese has a DG number of 2, because it's one of the blogs listed in Volume 22's sidebar. Utopia with cheese is DG(2).

So, my DG(1) blogs are the twenty blogs listed over there on my sidebar. DG(1)=20. I update that list every now and again, and I try very hard to restrict that list to exactly twenty blogs at all times. It can be difficult sometimes, having to leave out some fine blogs, or removing a few when they go a bit quiet. Still, I think it's a good mix of sites, and they are the first blogs I check daily to see what golden nuggets have been posted therein. If you run one of these sites, congratulations, you are officially DG(1). (And, in response to the person who asked, no they're not listed in order of favouritism. There's a much more elementary reason why the DG(1) sites are listed in the order that they are - but I'm sure you've already worked out what that is.)

Over the last few hours I've been busy investigating my DG(2) blogs. These are the blogs listed on the sidebars of my DG(1) blogs (but not including those DG(1) blogs themselves). I've managed to compile a comprehensive list, covering a huge swathe across blogworld. And I'm pleased to be able to tell you that I have exactly 257 DG(2) blogs, all precisely two links away from this page. DG(2)=257.

It's been especially interesting to find out which of those 257 are my most-recommended DG(2) blogs, the blogs that get a mention on at least four of my DG(1) sidebars. If a lot of my favourite blogs link to these other blogs, they're probably well worth reading. And I'm hoping you might think so too. Why not have a look below and see what you think.

Here's a list of the 17 most-recommended DG(2) blogs:
blogadoon: The top site that's not on my sidebar at the moment, with 7 recommendations. Ian's site is beautifully designed, and written in a style that reflects his journalistic talents. There's a lot of perfectly-written stuff lurking elsewhere on his site, well worth a delve. And he seems to post a week's worth of stuff all in one go.
world of chig: It's gone quieter on here of late, although I expect that to change once Eurovision draws nearer. If you're any sort of music fan, check out the astonishingly-detailed 50 Number Ones project.
londonmark: searching for intelligent life in camden town? I think I've found it here.
naked blog: The thoughtful Scottish perspective, and oh so prolific.
bboyblues: RIP February 2003.
leatheregg: Ron's playground, open and honest for exactly three years. Happy anniversary.
not you, the other one: Sarah's beer-infested blog, cleverly designed. I find it somewhat unnerving, however, that she was born on my 16th birthday.
plastic bag: One from the blogworld A-list. Who the hell is Tom Coates?
brainsluice: Life viewed from the arse-end of the southern hemisphere.
dave, live in london: Was on my DG(1) list until Dave entered blog hibernation in March. Recent signs of vibrant life returning.
here inside: Charlie lets his inside out.
not.so.soft: Meg muses on life from a variety of humorous and original angles. Always worth a read.
those wonderful people: Rob salutes those out there in the dark.
sashinka: Convincingly handwritten, plain but not simple.
scally: Random thoughts, on and off since November 2000.
LinkMachineGo: Every important link you could ever want, plus the invaluable updated GBlogs list.
whosbetterthan: Mike Young, he's an East Coast kind of a guy.

Meanwhile, the following twelve DG(2) blogs are recommended by three of my DG(1) blogs:
a blogs life, cha cha cha, salam pax, these moments, i'm hip to you, hydragenic, rise, mad musings of me, barcablog, sue bailey.net, textism, ultrasparky

And there are 45 DG(2) blogs recommended by two of my DG(1) blogs. Here are ten of my favourites from that list:
blogjam, bluetealeaf, embra nights, minor 9th, myboyfriendisatwat, oddverse, pepys diary, the search for love in manhattan, submeat, wil wheaton

If you're not on any of the above lists, sorry. Maybe you're one of the other 208, less-recommended, DG(2) blogs. Or maybe you're DG(3), except there are thousands of those and I really can't be bothered to list all of them. However, if you think you're DG(6) do get in touch, as we may just have a new theory for some researcher to get their graph theory teeth into.

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