I remember sitting around with a few friends discussing the theory of “Six Degrees of Separation”. The basic premise of which is that any two people in the world can be connected in just six steps. This idea quickly became a silly parlor game called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” that tries to connect any actor to Kevin Bacon by tracing movie roles with common actors through six films.
I thought about this today when I was doing some more reading on Digital Citizenship (and looking for more online resources), and I happened to stumble onto a link to a video called Six Degrees of Information (http://www.nsteens.org/Videos/6DegreesOfInformation). This video, which is presented by the NetSmartz Workshop group, shows an Internet researcher named Matt’s attempt to discover as much as he can about students by only following six clicks from their addresses on a response to a FaceBook post. The five students presented in the video, Nick, Kayla, Logan, Elise, and Will, are somewhat surprised by what Matt is able to find.
Kayla, who admits to sharing everything about her day, was not surprised to hear Matt mention items that she remembered posting but was very surprised to learn about something her mom posted about her on her mom’s blog. She wasn’t even aware that her mom had a blog, not to mention that her mom had blogged about her interest in a certain pair of shoes.
Logan is very surprised to learn that Matt uncovered a “double-secret” persona that Logan was using to romance a second girlfriend that was totally unknown to his current girlfriend. Logan’s surprise gave way to a little anger and a sad realization that he had a lot of explaining to do to two young women.
Another surprise was revealed when Matt admitted that he was unable to find much information out about Will who it was very clear was not especially active on Internet sites and social media. The other students reacted quickly that it was probably because he was a loser and he did not have very much of a life. Will indicated that he had other activities that he was more involved in.
It is interesting to think about – What would someone be able to find out about me by following links from my internet activity? What would they infer from reading my posts, or following responses from my friends, or from friends of friends? Let our Digital Citizenship team know what you think by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NetSmartz Teens site (http://www.nsteens.org/) has several other videos that you can view on other topics related to Digital Citizenship and Technology Use.
This image shows some of the videos that are available at http://origin.www.nsteens.org/Videos.
NetSmartz Teens site has other resources that can be used, such as games, interactive quizzes, and a few comics. View them at http://origin.www.nsteens.org/.