After blogging about Googlewhacking earlier in the week I got talking to some work colleagues about various voyages you can embark on while online we hit upon an interesting idea. Part of my job is to write a lot of articles about a range of subjects we find interesting in order to boost Google rankings of the Holiday Extras web pages. While researching for these articles I usually spend a fair amount of time on Wikipedia. During these research sessions it isn’t unknown for me to get somewhat sidetracked and go off on a tangent reading about related things.
This meandering of Wiki got me thinking when I was reading an article about six degrees of separation. I’d wandered onto the article while reading about something else and I thought, what if the same principle applied to websites? What if the same thing applied to Wiki pages? Could you get from any subject to anything else by just using internal Wiki links on the articles? Well there was only one way to find out…
The game was set. Get from one Wiki article to another in six or less steps without clicking back or working backwards. You were allowed to view the destination page to see the content, but other than that there was no help. Shouldn’t be too hard I thought.
First up was going from the planet Uranus to a page about digitaria, a type of grass. This seemed to be actually harder than I thought. I found the links quite easily but it took more steps than I anticipated. First time through I used this link chain;
Uranus and then, Voyager 2, NASA, Washington DC, United States, deciduous, plant, grasses, panicoideae and finally digitaria.
Seven intermediate steps, too many! I tried again using;
Uranus and then, weather, Earth’s atmosphere, photosynthesis, plant, grasses, panicoideae and then landing on digitaria. There it was, six intermediate steps.
To prove that this was no fluke I decided to do a couple more. Next up I chose the number one and the Fender Stratocaster guitar. This proved to be a little too easy and I did it in four steps; one and then, Germany, rock music, guitar, Fender Stratocaster. My next challenge was a little harder.
A colleague came up with the suggestion of getting from the Rialto Bridge in Venice to television presenter Anneka Rice. The challenge was set, this seemed much harder. Harder was certainly something it was. Information about Anneka was scarce and I went down many dead alleys and got lost many times. I was on the verge of giving up until I cracked it. Looking at Anneka’s wiki page I noticed that she was on the cooking programme, Hell’s Kitchen. Being more recent I thought that this would have a greater presence on Wikipedia. With this in mind I came up with this magical line;
Rialto bridge and then, Italy, United Kingdom, culture of the UK, Gordon Ramsey, Hell’s Kitchen before ending up with Anneka Rice.
So there we have it, six steps. It may even seem that it’s not just people that are separated by six degrees. It may actually be every single thing that exists. Well, if you’re bored at work then try it out, it can be fun to think of the most seemingly random things you possibly can and trying to find the link. If you get stumped then let me know what has defeated you and I guarantee I’ll find a way to work it.