Six Degrees of Separation

How Does Six Degrees of Separation Work?

You have a question. You want to know where to look for answers.

Imagine a room full of knowledgeable people. The ones nearest the door know most things, but not everything. If they don’t know something, they have an idea of who might know.

You ask a question of the nearest person.

He knows a great deal – he is up to date on the news, and he keeps track of questions people have asked in the past. He also knows a lot about general topics.

He can give you an answer quickly if he knows it. If he doesn’t, he will ask some of the people around him what they know. Each person asked also suggests who they think might be able to answer the question, based on their experience.

If the query cannot be adequately answered, the query is passed further back into the room, where the experts are. The experts specialise in various topics, and have more extensive knowledge.

Among them, they will know everything there is to know, and will provide authoritative responses.

In this analogy, there is a hierarchy of authority – with general indexes and specialised indexes. Six degrees of separation pretty much requires that there is some direction in going from index server to index server looking for more and better results. If the search isn’t directed, then jumping from server to server is just random sampling.