19 Clicks of Separation

#Internet

Thu, Feb 21st, 2013 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to Hungarian physicist Albert-László Barabási, not only are there an estimated 14 billion individual webpages on the Internet, but reportedly, much like the Kevin Bacon Search Tool, "from every single one of these pages you can navigate to any other in 19 clicks or less."

Distributed across the entire web, though, are a minority of pages -- search engines, indexes and aggregators -- that are very highly connected and can be used to move from area of the web to another. These nodes serve as the "Kevin Bacons" of the web, allowing users to navigate from most areas to most others in less than 19 clicks.

Barabási credits this "small world" of the web to human nature -- the fact that we tend to group into communities, whether in real life or the virtual world. The pages of the web aren't linked randomly, he says: They're organized in an interconnected hierarchy of organizational themes, including region, country and subject area.

Interestingly, this means that no matter how large the web grows, the same interconnectedness will rule. Barabási analyzed the network looking at a variety of levels -- examining anywhere from a tiny slice to the full 1 trillion documents -- and found that regardless of scale, the same 19-click-or-less rule applied.

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