Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age
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Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  520 ratings  ·  37 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 GleickEmergence by Steven JohnsonThe Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas TalebLinked by Albert-László Barabási
6th out of 33 books — 33 voters
The Origin of Wealth by Eric D. BeinhockerThe Complexity of Cooperation by Robert AxelrodHow Nature Works by Per BakThe Tipping Point by Malcolm GladwellLinked by Albert-László Barabási
Understanding Complexity
8th out of 30 books — 11 voters

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Kirsty Darbyshire

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.

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.
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.
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, Bra...more
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.
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.
Pamela Day
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.
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
Dave Peticolas

An introduction to the science of networks (social and otherwise).

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.
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Blake Kanewischer
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 4 of 5 stars
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.
This is an interesting book about how the world is connected. If you like a mix of math, science, sociology and technology, you'll love this.
A somewhat interesting perspective on sociology and how connected people really are. It gave new meaning to the saying "It's a small world".
Wessel van Rensburg
One of the books that started the sub-discipline of social network analysis. A must read if you are interested in this field.
The mathematics is made accessible, but aside from the critique of Milgram's research, the book was surprisingly uninteresting.
surprisingly dense and contentful for a 'pop' science book. interesting material especially on percolation clusters
Henry Bickerstaff
A good textbook but way too technical for me. A good understanding of mathematical theory would have helped.
Very interesting book on the science of networks. When I get some time I plan on reading it again.
Mike Barretta
good, but a bit fluffy. Still, a reasonable background from which to build a stronger foundation.
a fairly new way of looking at the world and solving interdisciplinary problems
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