19 clicks of separation is the Internet’s Kevin Bacon rule

connect internetHave you heard of the “Bacon number?” According to urban legend, you can link every working actor or actress to Kevin Bacon in six steps or less.

And according to a Hungarian physicist named Albert-László Barabási, Web pages operate within a similar framework: It takes 19 steps or less to connect any random page to any other random page. And what’s more, no matter how big the Internet gets, the connection will stay the same.

This sounds absolutely crazy; after all, there are over 14 billion individual Web pages. And some of them are cobwebby GeoCities pages paying homage to Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson’s rumored Dawson’s Creek romance, long abandoned by their now-30-something former webmasters.

The point being, how can you connect the ancient, long-uncared for corners of the Internet to something up-to-date and highly official like the official White House page or the World Bank’s jobs website?

Massive blog aggregators like Reddit bridge the gap, according to Barabási’s paper, published recently in the very-official-sounding Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Facebook and Google, along with other major social media and search sites, also help connect content. The ability to cleave extremely different Web material together like this might strike you as a elegant example of how interconnected everything is. And Barabási lends credence to that idea, since he theorizes that it’s human nature to clump things together into communities.

There’s only one downside to Barabási’s findings: though all websites enjoy the 19-clicks connection, it can be severed easily. Since only a handful of powerful aggregators make the connections possible, shutting down a few select nodes could totally dismantle the way we organize information online.

Of course, as long as we keep those major connecting sites safe, this study means that no matter how huge the Web gets, in 100 years, we can still link Khloe Kardashian to Abraham Lincoln without much fuss. And the world will be forever grateful. 

Social Media

‘Instagram egg’ embarks on a new adventure as man behind it is unmasked

The Instagram egg made global headlines recently after it became the most-liked post on the photo-sharing app. The person behind the account has now been revealed, as has his reason for choosing an egg for the stunt.
Mobile

Own an unlocked Galaxy S9? The U.S. Android Pie update has landed

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Gaming

How to keep a PS4 in your pocket with the PlayStation Mobile app

Sony built the PlayStation 4 with smartphone and mobile integration in mind. Take a look at our guide for connecting your smartphone or tablet to a PS4, so you can get the most out of the system while on the go.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Computing

File Transfer Protocol explained: What FTP is and what it does

FTP stands for "File Transfer Protocol," and it's used to transfer files online. Most internet users don't need it, but web developers use it constantly. Here's what FTP is, how it works, and how you can get started using it.
Social Media

Periscope tool adds guests to feeds so streamers can become talk show hosts

Periscope users can now invite viewers to chime into the conversation with more than just the comment tool. By enabling the option to add guests, livestreamers can add guests to the conversation, in audio format only.
Photography

Crouching, climbing, and creeping, the perfect Instagram shot knows no bounds

Just how far will you go for the perfect Instagram? A recent survey shows just how willing Instagram users -- and Instagram husbands -- are to climb, lie down, embarrass themselves or let their food go cold for the perfect shot.
Social Media

Facebook’s long-promised ‘unsend’ feature arrives. Here’s how to use it

Send a message to the wrong person? Messenger now gives you 10 minutes to take it back. After an update beginning to roll out today, users can now retract messages if they act within the first 10 minutes after sending the message.
Social Media

YouTube boss admits even her own kids gave the ‘Rewind’ video a thumbs down

YouTube's 2018 Rewind video went down like a lead balloon at the end of last year, becoming the most disliked video in its history. And now YouTube's CEO has admitted that even her own kids thought it was pretty darn awful.
Social Media

Snapchat finally recovers from its redesign — so here comes an Android update

Snapchat's drop in users after launching a controversial redesign has finally stagnated. During the fourth quarter and 2018 earnings report, Snapchat shared that the company is rolling out an Android update designed to increase performance.
Social Media

Skype’s new ‘blur background’ feature could help keep you from blushing

Skype's latest feature for desktop lets you blur your background during video calls. The idea is that it keeps you as the focus instead of distracting others with whatever embarrassing things you might have on show behind you.
Social Media

Twitter users are declining but more people are seeing ads every day

Twitter's end-of-the-year report for 2018 is a mix of good and bad news. The good news is that more users are seeing adds daily, the metric the company will focus on moving forward. But the bad news is that monthly active users are…
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Computing

YouTube beats Apple, Netflix as the most trusted brand by millennials

The popular video sharing website YouTube climbed up in an annual Mblm study, moving up from third place in 2018 and coming ahead of both Apple and Netflix in final 2019 rankings.