Facebook’s Data Science Team is responsible for combining their mathematical abilities, programming skills and social science to datamine the information on Facebook for insights that may have significant impact on social sciences.

The Data Science Team leader Cameron Marlow explains, “This is the first time the world has seen this scale and quality of data about human communications.”

This can potentially enable social scientists like Dr. Marlow to shed significant light on why people behave as they do. “For the first time we have a microscope that not only lets us examine social behavior at a very fine level that we’ve never been able to see before but allows us to run experiments that millions of users are exposed to.”

Facebook tested the theory that any person on the globe is six degrees of separation from any other human. While swimmers on the shores of Dover or Aquatic Park already instinctively know that about their own open water swimming communities, Facebook questioned this concept together with University of Milan researchers.

Their test utilized the entire online social network of 721 million users in May 2011 and analyzed the 69 billion Facebook friend connections. Their conclusion was even more remarkable than Kevin Bacon imagined.

Four friends are enough to introduce anyone to a random stranger. The researchers’ conclusion: a friend of your friend knows a friend of their friend on average. While this potential closeness does not apply to everyone in every situation, the usual camaraderie and collegiality of the open water swimming world makes it more true than not.

Imagine your only four degrees of separation from the luminaries of the sport, from extreme cold water swimmers Lynne Cox, Lewis Pugh and Ram Barkai, to adventurers Diana Nyad, Penny Palfrey and Stephen Redmond.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source