Microsoft studies 30bn instant messages and "proves" six degrees of separation theory


The theory that every human being is separated from anyone else by a maximum of six steps may have gained some ground thanks to a study of some thirty billion instant messages by Microsoft’s researchers.

Studying the addresses of messages sent during June 2006 (yes, two years ago — what, were they reading them as well?), the researchers found that any two people were linked by seven or fewer acquaintances — 6.6 steps to be precise, with over three-quarters of the pairs linkable in seven or fewer steps…