Degrees of Separation: A googolplex of possibilities

Redefining Connectedness

Photo Credit: Saad Faruque via Compfight cc

After reading Six Degrees of Separation, my first thought was that it was quite amazing how long this concept has been around. The second thing that came to mind was, if they had to use snail mail to test this theory in 1967, has anyone tried it using the internet yet? I imagine using tools like email, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and many others, we’d find the degrees of seperation much faster. Perhaps there isn’t even a need for the study anymore since on Facebook for instance, if I randomly click on a stranger’s profile, it will tell me if any of my friends are connected to them. Twitter and Linkedin also show connectins. Linkedin does go further into the connections however and will show you more than one degree of separation.

In my mind, the web has opened up the possibilities of connections and brought the world closer together. What I find a little interesting is how we might actually define our connections today in comparison to before the internet. In the Small-world Experiment by Milgram (1967), the notion of knowing someone “personally” was definied by knowing them on a first name basis. But how would we define that today? If we used the same rule, the strange thing for me is that I feel like I do know certain people on Twitter on a first name basis. We interact and collaborate all the time, but I’ve never met them face-to-face, so does that count? In the growing world of social media, how might we define our connectedness now? Is it valid to say I know these people whom I collaborate with on projects but have never met? What about those people I have met and might have connected with on Facebook, but then never really spoke to again? If we go back to basics, what about the teacher-student relationship? In many cases students address teachers by their family names, but I would say that just because they aren’t on a first name basis, doesn’t mean they don’t know each other “personally”. So, really, would conducting a small-world experiment today be even feasible? We all kind of are aware at the back of our heads that the possibility of connecting with someone is just a couple clicks away! On top of that, the definition of connectedness is changing and what may seem to be considered a valid connection to one person may seem invalid to another. With the speed at which technology is growing, our definitions of how we are connected may never be clear again!

Breaking it Down

So, how do I use the web? Well, let’s see…

  • Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin
  • Blogging: COETAIL, Professional Blog, Class Blog
  • Searching for information: Let’s face it…we only “Google” things (does anyone use other search engines anymore?)
  • Storing, sharing and collaborating: Dropbox, Google Drive
  • Entetainment: YouTube
  • Shopping! 🙂

Did I miss anything? Let’s talk a little bit more about a few of these things.

The Power of the Hyperlink

Well, I’ve never considered it before but hyperlinks make my online life so much easier. Scan a QR code bringing you straight to a site. Then just jump from one page to the next finding

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more information on a topic or even a better product when shopping. Searching for connected friends on Facebook or looking for interesting new professionals to follow on Twitter. How would I function without it???

I began blogging with just the knowledge that I could highlight text and link it to a webpage. I didn’t really focus on making that link stand out, or adding an image so that the liklihood readers would notice it would be higher. I slowly learned how to link to images and screenshots, later it let me to learn more about embedding a varieity of images and videos that also linked back to original sites. Finally, I started linking back to pages within my own blog so that I could reference work that I had published peviously.

In my teaching, I print out QR codes so my students can access sites that I want them to reach easily. I also attach QR codes to digital work that my students have made so that peers and family members can also access it at any time.

Without the ease of being able to click though pages of connected information, we’d have to start a new search each time we wanted to find another site or document. How annoying would that be?!

Smart Googling

Am I any good at utilizing search engines? Well…I am aware that there are many ways of getting better search results. I was first introduced to the concept by Alan November when I attended one of his workshops. I quickly noted what I could but honestly, I haven’t put any of it to use yet. Here is an infographic that could possibly help me along the way! Warning, it’s pretty long, but I find it very useful 🙂

 

 

4 thoughts on “Degrees of Separation: A googolplex of possibilities”

  1. Based on the small-world experiment, knowing someone by their first name AND believing they would go down to the post office to mail a package for you was a sign of knowing someone personally in the 60’s. Neither of those would work today. I don’t even know where my nearest post office is since the mail is less than reliable here. An updated version might be knowing the name a person goes by and believing they will forward or retweet something if you asked them to.

    Thanks for posting the infographic on Google searches, Pana. It always helps to have a visual along with the info.

  2. When it comes to Google I am lazy – I still type whole questions and sentences into the search box – and you know what – I usually find what I am looking for – just lucky I guess! I have a question for you about QR Codes. We have a JK class who made paintings for Mother’s Day – they want to be able to scan the painting and see a video of the kids saying something about their mom. I can use a QR Code and link to YouTube but I was looking for something a little more snazzy. I was thinking of Aurasma but I’m not sure they can see the video again after they leave the classroom. I know you have some great ideas so I just thought I would ask 🙂

    • Hi Louise! The parents (or anyone else) can definitely see the video again on their own devices. They need to of course have Aurasma and be following your channel. What I have done in the past is put a link and/or a QR code to the channel link on my blog or on a display board where parents can scan with their device to be following your channel. Once they are following you, any subsequent Auras that you create they can view on their own devices. Let me know if you want me to explain in more detail! 🙂

  3. Hi, Pana.
    Thanks for the Smart Googling visual. I certainly needed that, and will benefit from it…as will my students.

    I like your thinking of connectedness and whether we know others in our cohort “personally”. How much we know each other would be seen on a test (perhaps a standardized test with multiple choice…no, no, just kidding) if someone were to ask me, “Jamie, tell me about Pana.” Based upon reading your blogs and what you post on Twitter and Google+ I would be able to share my knowledge of you and your thinking, which others could then categorize our relationship, or connectedness. I would say we have a “distant professional” connectedness. However, were we to collaborate then more of our thinking, senses of humor, and experiences might enter into the discourse which would change our connectedness to “close professional”. Then, with “close professional” connectedness we could easily come upon a problem and consider the strengths of those within our network and seek appropriate assistance. I think we do this naturally, but I’m sure the semantic web (or the NSA) will scour our interactions and even make suggestions (the NSA would make predictions) on who we will contact for assistance.

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