Welcome to 6 Degrees Of Sesame. My name is Cojo. I designed this social networking art experiment in January 2010 as surprise 25th birthday present for my then girlfriend / muse Molly. The experiment itself took months to set up, minutes to launch, and only a couple weeks to fully run it's course. Testing the power of network science, mixing in some art & pop culture, and a TV show that has been raising children since 1969. The entire experiment was to be a fun gamble, as it's potential success or failure was only as good as the science, and the participants involved.

I had been thinking about doing a Six Degree of Separation experiment for about a year before I started working on this project. I was inspired by the documentary CONNECTED:THE POWER OF SIX DEGREES .

The concept behind the experiment and the documentary that inspired it is based on the theory of SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION. In it's most basic terms the theory postulates that you or anybody on the planet is connected to anybody else on the planet by only six handshakes. What was once a urban myth is now turning out to be a new form of science, the science of networks.


The main goal of the project was to test the science. I decided to start with a test group of 88 participants from all walks of life. These are people who either I knew, or Molly and I both knew. If Molly and I both knew them, they would be starting at one degree away from Molly. If only I knew them, they would be starting at two degrees away.

The one target person all 88 Participants I wanted to connect Molly to within 6 Degrees or less to is none other than the legendary TV producer Joan Ganz Cooney, cofounder of the Children's Television Workshop, now known as Sesame Workshop, and creator of Sesame Street.

At the time of the experiment she was 80-years-old and lived in New York City. (Click To Learn More About This Amazing Woman)

In the 6 Degree documentary their experiment started with 40 participants from all over the world, with physical packages being shipped by UPS for tracking.

Molly being the starting point, is not a degree away from herself, she is the start of the chain of degrees.

Therefore Molly was represented by the letter
A and being the target end point Joan was represented by the number 6 representing B, as she must be reached in six steps.

If a person is one degree away from Molly, that means Molly is already friends with them, knows them on a first name basis, or is one of her family members. In the silhouette above OSCAR THE GROUCH represents one of Molly's friends or relations. OSCAR in this situation would be one degree of separation away from Molly and is therefore represented by the number

If I know someone but Molly doesn't they are two degrees away from Molly, because Molly can shake my hand (I am one degree of separation) and then I can shake their hand (two degrees of separation from Molly).

In this experiment, instead of hand shakes or UPS packages (as in the documentary) I decided to use good old fashioned emails. Using the same principal except to "virtually shake hands" across oceans or continents without having to check luggage, or wait for physical envelopes to be shipped.

The Cast of Sesame Street Season 40.. . . Plus Molly & Guy Smiley.

I decided to more than double my odds and start with 88 participants using email for tracking, and use test subjects predominantly residing in North America. The goal of the 88 participants was for each one of them to pass an email with specific information to one person (out of all of the people they know). This one person would be the one person (out of all of the people they know) who they think might have the best chance of knowing Joan Ganz Cooney, or the best chance of knowing someone who knows someone who knows Joan Ganz Cooney.

Or quite literally THEY(1st) would pass an email on to one SOMEONE(2nd) out of all the people they know who they thought might have the best chance of knowing SOMEONE (3rd), who knows SOMEONE (4th), who knows SOMEONE(5th), who knows Joan Ganz Cooney (6th).

This first link in thier string would either be part of the participant's family or a friend, or a person the participant knows on a first name basis. This second person will do the same to a third person, and so on, until (As in CONNECTED:THE POWER OF SIX DEGREES) the email reaches the target (hopefully in 6 steps or less).

Now to surprise MMolly and show her the site, then we can get the ball rolling on the meat of the experiment and see if this 6 Degrees theory pans out.

"Six" - Bert and Ernie

"Everything I knew as a kid I learned from watching Sesame Street."
- Mollysaid in passing while driving back to New York from Tennessee 1-7-10

The original web addresses for this social art experiment when it was launched and live were 6DegreesofSesame.com. It currently exists at http://www.artsucks.com/sesame in it's completed form.

6DegreesofSesame was created by Cojo. Sesame Street characters, Logos, and photos are copyright of Sesame Workshop.

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