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Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  820 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
In this remarkable book, Duncan Watts, one of the principal architects of network theory, sets out to explain the innovative research that he and other scientists are spearheading to create a blueprint of our connected planet. Whether they bind computers, economies, or terrorist organizations, networks are everywhere in the real world, yet only recently have scientists att ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 17th 2004 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published February 1st 2003)
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Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas R. HofstadterChaos by James GleickThe Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas TalebEmergence by Steven JohnsonLinked by Albert-László Barabási
9th out of 42 books — 59 voters
Introduction to Algorithms by Thomas H. CormenStructure and Interpretation of Computer Programs by Harold AbelsonThe C Programming Language by Brian W. KernighanThe Art of Computer Programming, Volumes 1-3 Boxed Set by Donald Ervin KnuthDesign Patterns by Erich Gamma
Essential Books of Computer Science
43rd out of 155 books — 151 voters

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Aug 12, 2015 EB rated it really liked it
This is my first introduction to network theory and small world theory. I found it completely fascinating and well worth a read. I picked up this book because I wanted to understand the impact of cross group work by mapping out connections. I was looking to a taxonomy to talk about these concepts with others. A co-worker suggested I read up on graph theory, which lead me to this book and this researcher. This book accomplished that. It's a well written digestible overview and history of a very c ...more
Mar 18, 2010 FiveBooks rated it it was amazing
Aleks Krotoski, broadcaster, journalist, and academic specialising in technology and interactivity, has chosen to discuss Duncan J Watts’s Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age on FiveBooks as one of the top five on her subject - Virtual Living, saying that:

"...Watts has been looking at the small world phenomenon to identify whether the web itself has shrunk our world, and in fact it hasn’t… We still do have those six degrees of separation, even by e-mail, with somebody who’s in, say, Br
Nov 15, 2011 Rick rated it it was ok
This book was OK. I think I would have liked it more if I knew more about math and statistics. Watts raised some interesting points in his book and who can forget playing the 6 degrees from Kevin Bacon. Watts was not able to apply his findings to real world examples in a way that made the connections understandable to a layman. In addition, at the end of it all there was no tangible finding or process that could be applied by a reader to more effectively utilize networks.
Aug 04, 2014 Gwen rated it liked it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I like the topic, I've read magazines articles on network science before and enjoyed them. And I like the concepts and ideas and what network science can tell us. But apparently, I just can't read a full book on topic. It takes awhile to explain things and while the text is accessible it just doesn't hold my attention. I had to put it aside.
Kirsty Darbyshire
Dec 07, 2010 Kirsty Darbyshire rated it liked it
Shelves: library-book

A look at the maths behind the idea that there are 'six degreees of separation' and other networking theories. Interesting stuff and I like the fact that the author is not afraid to include plenty of graphs to illustrate his ideas, popular science books that insist on using only words drive me nuts.

Mar 13, 2009 Krista rated it really liked it
It's a sign of the author's great intelligence that I was able to understand this book...of course the parts that interested me the most were (1) network theory used to examine spread of disease (2) designing flexible, robust response systems.
Feb 08, 2010 Bill rated it really liked it
I really liked this. I love accessible science with references to the original work. It is similar to linked, and the topic is related, both excellent books to get you thinking about networks.
Phil Moyer
Jan 15, 2016 Phil Moyer rated it it was amazing
An excellent layperson's companion to Duncan's Small Worlds: The Dynamics of Networks Between Order and Randomness, this treatment dives into the history of network science research, including its roots and Duncan's earlier forays into the field. I do recommend this book to my friends, particularly those who ask "what's this 'complexity' thing you're always going on about?" Disclosure: Duncan is an acquaintance of mine via the Santa Fe Institute, so I'm a bit biased because of the outstanding na ...more
Harsha Gurnani
May 01, 2016 Harsha Gurnani rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2016
In one word: Refreshing.

Sat with it for two consecutive nights until my eyes started hurting. He describes his own academic journey - as a confused graduate student stumbling upon a completely unexplored subject - ecstatic at his finding but marvelling at how it remained unexplored for so long. But as he said, things had to happen in a particular order .

As for the science, it's presented in a completely accessible way - it's supposed to be for general reading. (Book Description covers it all).
ناي القرشي.
الكتاب مفيد جدًا ويستحق القراءة.
وهو يؤرخ ويقدم لعلم الشبكات وهو علم ناشئ يدرس الشبكة بما هي شبكة بصرف النظر عن العناصر المكونة لها سواء أكانت شبكة اجتماعية أم شبكة الانترنت أم شبكة الخلايا العصبية وهلم جرا...،وكيف تؤثر فيها الصدمات وكيفية مواجهتها للأعطال... كذلك تحدّث عن الأوبئة وانتشارها وكيف يتخذ الأفراد قرارتهم وتأثير الشبكة عليهم.
أسلوب الكاتب ممتع رغم أنني وجدت صعوبة في الناحية الرياضية لكن الجميل في علم الشبكات وهو ما يجعله مهم ومعقد أنه لا يعتمد على علم واحد؛ علم الإجتماع الرياضيات الفيزي
Aasim Waheed
Feb 29, 2016 Aasim Waheed rated it it was ok
Too academic for my taste. Watts talks about how he *developed* some of the theories and defines the whole process of getting to them - it became so uninteresting that I basically only browsed through the second half of the book. Read only if you are reallllly interested in social sciences and network theories.
Jul 15, 2014 Scott rated it it was amazing
I genuinely love this book. A far more balanced look at social network theory than maybe Duncan Watts is renowned for.

Gets a little thick towards the middle, but still a fantastic read for those prefer to lean a little more towards science than marketing every now and then.
Norhan Eltorky
أخييييرآ خلصت الكتاب ده :) كتاب دسم .. كان يكفينى قراءة بعض الورقات فى كل جلسه .. أى حد دارس رياضه بحته أو فيزياء أو دارس إحصاء بتعمق الكتاب حيكون سهل نسبيآ بالنسبة له .. اللطيف فى الكتاب ده ان فصوله منفصلة .. من الممكن قراءة الفصول بدون ترتيب .. استخدمت القراءة السريعه فى الفقرات الصعبة إللى كانت بتقابلنى .. كان عندى تحدى إنى أنتهى من قراءته .. علم جديد .. أفكار جديدة .. كنت بتناقش مع أحدهم عن العلاقات الإجتماعية و كيفية نشأتها .. و إتفاجئت بنفسي بستشهد بأفكار من الكتاب لدعم وجهة نظرى و بتكلم ع ...more
Bernard O'Leary
May 13, 2016 Bernard O'Leary rated it really liked it
This is one of the last major works on network theory published before the launch of Facebook. Keen to see what he's written since then, as much of the book is filled with a yearning for some kind of vast dataset to analyse.
Ju-hyun Kim
Jun 14, 2015 Ju-hyun Kim is currently reading it
서강대 최진석교수의 노자 인문학 강의 중에 나온 이야기로, 익숙함에 빠지지 않고 스스로를 죽이는, 즉 남의 이야기가 아닌 스스로의 문제의식을 찾아가는 단계가 어느 분야에 있어서든 반드시 찾아온다고 한다. 네트워크 과학도 그렇게 생각하던 어느 젊은 학자의 문제 의식에서 출발하게 되었음을 보여준다. 와츠의 경우에도 익숙한 길이 아닌 아직 가지않은 길을 가기로 결심면서 네트워크 과학도 그렇게 시작되었다. (chapter 1: the road less traveled)
Pamela Day
Jun 19, 2014 Pamela Day rated it really liked it
Very much enjoyed - surprised it didn't take off like Gladwell's work.

Grounds you in small work and scale free networks - theoretical models paired with real life examples. Good stuff.
Jan 15, 2012 Alexandria rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
I became interested in Networks after reading Connected & after browsing related books online, everything pointed me towards reading this next. It's the perfect starting point for anyone interested in networks because it teaches you in detail how differents types of networks function, differ & relate to one another across all the scientific spectrums. I even found myself recognizing the authors colleagues from other network lit purchases I've made. I'm excited to see what's changed from ...more
Feb 14, 2016 Brett added it
I liked the later chapters on Wisdom of Crowds, Financial Bubbles, Viral Cascades, Social Networks. Very solid read.
Nov 04, 2011 Rajesh rated it really liked it
Picked up this book when I was exploring the wonderful worlds of small world/scale free networks, power laws and synchronization, which was in turn due to an interest in chaos theory and nonlinear dynamics. Amazing book full of great examples and ideas. A very readable introduction to the science of networks. Highly recommend this and Albert Laszlo Barabasi's book "Linked", and Steven Strogatz's awesome book, "Sync".
Peter Jiao
May 18, 2014 Peter Jiao rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 08, 2015 Norah rated it it was amazing
Just read it. It's just so damn good. It really put so many things into perspective, for me personally.
Blake Kanewischer
Jan 17, 2013 Blake Kanewischer rated it liked it
Shelves: science
This is a solid book--it's interesting, having read some of the follow-up works to this (e.g., by Barabasi and others), because it turns into a bit of a science memoir with that perspective. The book, while it is about networks and network analysis, skims over some of the fun applications and treats them somewhat lightly, in comparison with later books in the field. Still worth a read.
Christine Klymko
Oct 10, 2011 Christine Klymko rated it really liked it
Another good overview of the recent development of network science. I found the book fascinating and easy to read. There isn't much math and Duncan Watts explains the big concepts pretty clearly. I had encountered most of the ideas already, in more technical situations, but it was nice to get a big overview of how everything might fit together.
Jul 21, 2011 Jon rated it it was amazing
Really fantastic, if dense, book. It educates & does a pretty good job of entertaining in the process. You finish knowing a lot more about the area of networks and where the state of the science on that topic was about 5-6 years ago. I'm motivated to track down some review articles to find out where things have gone.
Nov 10, 2008 Rahmad rated it really liked it
Small world effects are around us. This books is a popular introduction to this small world effects and its consequences on social networks and our constantly connected world.

Cautions though, some part of the books need a slow read.
May 01, 2009 Indra rated it really liked it
very interesting narrative of Watts and some of his collaborators and how some key developments in the field came about and also an accessible account of a number of ideas in network theory helpful for non-mathematicians.
Jan 01, 2014 Ninakix rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-2012
like all of Watt's writing, it's a bit dense, but lots of cool stuff for nerds like me. I prefer Barabosi's Linked, but this book has more math. Not sure autobiographical was the best format to explain this field, also.
Jul 06, 2011 Paula rated it really liked it
I only got about halfway through this before I had to return it to the library, so I intend to come back to it. But what I read so far is great. Duncan Watts is an amazing thinker and communicator.
Kostas Pelechrinis
Sep 02, 2013 Kostas Pelechrinis rated it it was amazing
A very nice (non-technical) introduction to network science. It summarizes the milestones during the first years of this new disciplines in a nice and engaging way.
Jul 08, 2007 Scott rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: interested in connectedness
Shelves: non-fiction
The Kevin Bacon six degrees is explained. This really shows how connected we are in this world and how not so random it is. I really enjoyed this book.
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  • Social and Economic Networks
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Duncan Watts is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research and a founding member of the MSR-NYC lab. From 2000-2007, he was a professor of Sociology at Columbia University, and then, prior to joining Microsoft, a principal research scientist at Yahoo! Research, where he directed the Human Social Dynamics group . He has also served on the external faculty of the Santa Fe Institute and is currentl ...more
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