Although there are currently said to be more than 14 billion pages on the Internet, a new study shows that navigation between any two of these pages should take you no more than 19 clicks -- that's how interrelated everything is. The study was published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and conducted by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi of Northeastern University's Center for Complex Network Research in Boston.
Barabasi, a leader in network research, says that the 19 clicks of separation have to do with human nature, according to Smithsonian magazine. It works because Internet pages are organized in an interconnected hierarchy of organizational themes, including region, country and subject area.
No matter how far deep into that YouTube rabbit hole you may have fallen, you're still fewer than 19 clicks from the trailer for the 2010 film "Rabbit Hole" or even the Wikipedia page explaining what a rabbit hole is.
Sound at all like "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," the popular parlor game in which you figure out how closely one person is linked to another? Ironically, Barabasi actually appeared alongside Bacon in a documentary about network theory called "Connected: The Power of Six Degrees."
Though it may sound silly, the way in which any Hollywood actor or actress can theoretically be linked to Kevin Bacon in six or fewer steps is very much like the idea behind Barabasi's newest findings about the Web.
The similarity in theory to the Kevin Bacon game is so much so that it may be accurate to liken search engines and aggregators to the "Kevin Bacons" of the Internet. It's typically the job of these sites to pull pages from all over the globe to bring them within just a few clicks (or degrees) of each other. When considering the number of websites that Google, Yahoo, or Bing reach to yield the masses of instant search results they do, 19 clicks or fewer to any page doesn't seem all that outrageous.
Maybe Google will now consider creating a "Click Number" generator for websites, much as it did for "Bacon Number".