Degrees of Separation

The diagram shows the interconnections of a small social network, together with a matrix showing the number of links separating each individual.

Friendship Network and Distance MatrixThe familiar notion expressed by degrees of separation claims that each of is ultimately connected to every other person in the world.  If so, then you and I are at least distantly connected to all of he same people.  The only difference would be the strengths of these connections.   The vectors representing those strengths could be considered our social spectra.

Actually, much more sophisticated social spectra are possible and would be of great value (or of great danger) but it is remarkable how much can be done by just considering the links between individuals.

See also the original front page for this website, which dates from a time when it seemed that only a small number of profile vectors for each person would be available.   Recursive Exhaustion has changed all that.

Using that algorithm, data from all connected entities is added to each person, recursively.   Data on interpersonal connections is not easily available, but some of it can be broadly derived.

Elsewhere I have distinguished between information available to unscrupulous individuals, organizations or nations willing to break the law to obtain private data and those who only use public records or information provided voluntarily.  For now I will just assume that the malicious can obtain any data they want.  Instead I will focus on what can easily be obtained from public records.

  • Birth certificates establish links between parents and children.
  • Marriage records establish links between the individuals getting married and suggest but do not prove links between them and witnesses to the ceremony.
  • Name and address records can establish links between individuals living at the same address.
  • Incorporation records establish links between individuals founding a corporate entity.
  • Property ownership records establish links between people who share ownership of land or other valuables.
  • Criminal conviction records can establish links between individuals who participated in a crime or conspiracy.

As well as this official information from current government records, a great deal of information about a person’s ancestors is available from the work of genealogy researchers.  People sharing two grandparents are first cousins and a link probably exists between them.  As explained elsewhere, many advantages come from including all identifiable people in the database, even those of distant generations.

Clearly most of the above information will be available only in advanced countries.  Poor nations which maintain few records of dubious reliability would be a problem.  Some would argue that the value of poorly documented individuals to the interpersonal infrastructure is insignificant.  I disagree.  As well as deserving consideration for humanitarian reasons, all people possess some level of intelligence and intellect — some processing ability and memory.  Their importance can be illustrated by a radio-telescope analogy, given elsewhere.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *