Sunday, 20 May 2012

six degrees, sechs grad

Researchers at the University of Heidelberg extrapolating from the native nosiness of plug-ins and sharing short-cuts have mapped out a shadow network of a-social students, predicting connections with a fair degree of accuracy. A match rate of forty percent, as the New Scientist article reports, may not sound so revealing but I am sure it can be a little disconcertingly prying and people are shunted as terrorists and put on no-fly lists for more tenuous and specious reasons, never mind the targeted advertising.

This experiment is not reproducing the tactics of the prominent social networks, but is rather a rhetorical exercise to demonstrate how it can be done. Having recently tried to be forgotten (though I only managed to deactivate my moribund account, not delete it), I find the persistence of memory to be the most disturbing. I still get barrages of emails, and if I am viewing a site with an invitation to endorse or ingratiate myself over said networking site, I am invited, by name, to re-animate my account. One should tread carefully, and perhaps the lesson is that one should maintain a healthy and vibrant fake social life, in order to ensure that the internet is not making the wrong assumptions about what one likes or dislikes or who one is friends with.