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Website, at www.sixdegrees.com. Began as a bit of an experiment, really, trying to see if the concept of 6 degrees of separation could be verified on the World Wide Web. Users who signed up were encouraged to get all of their friends and family members and acquaintances to sign up as well, and so on down the line. Eventually, after enough people signed up, you could see how your connections increased exponentially as you continued down the degrees.

SixDegrees gradually added more and more community features -- live chat, bulletin boards, specialized groups, and so on. Nothing too serious, but it attracted a large contingent of persons who had a tendency to add any random person they met in chat to their contact lists. This resulted, of course, in lists of hundreds upon hundreds of first-degree relationships, most of whom were one-time encounters in a text window. This diluted the meaningfulness of the degree concept.

SixDegrees has now evolved even further to highlight its community features. The old idea of seeing how many people really are within only a few handshakes of you has fallen by the wayside. It's still there, but it's no longer the main purpose of the site. SixDegrees started from a fascinating and unique concept, but has now become a pretty run of the mill chat and discussion web site. A shame.

Update: 2 January 2001. Apparently SixDegrees has shut down, as of 30 December 2000. The site has a single paragraph of explanation that doesn't explain anything. I've e-mailed the provided address in hopes of getting more information. Stay tuned.

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