The big day had finally arrived to put the 6 Degrees Of Sesame into action:

1) On Molly's 25th Birthday I gave her a jewelry box.
2) She opened the box to find a small piece of paper with the web address for the experiment in there.
3) She is confused. I probably should have had some jewelry in that jewelry box as well. Bad move on my part.
4) Molly enters the web address in her browser and gives it a look.
5) I fire off the initial 88 emails.
6) Cross your fingers and we start the clock. What happens from here on out is anybody's guess. It is out of our hands, and is now just a waiting game.



The hope was that the 6 Degrees of Separation theory would hold true and that within 6 hand shakes emails from one person to the next (5-7 on average they say) every person from the initial 88 test participants should be able to connect with any target person on Earth. I started to question the variables that we didn't account for.'

If everyone is truely connected by 6 people, it should work. There were many pitfalls I knew we might encounter, as this experiment was not occuring in a vaccume.


HUMAN CHOICE: If human choice was not involved and it was just a linkedin bot data mining your 1st degree connections, your 2nd degree connections, 3rd degree connections, 4th degree connections, and so on, and so on, enevidibly after six degrees (if the theory holds) we are all connected. But this is not a bot combing every one of your connections. One human is recieving the email, and forwarding it to one human of their choosing.


THE POSSIBILITIY OF SUCCESS ALONE MAY NOT BE INCENTIVE ENOUGH TO PARTICIPATE: I could picture was that with no incentive of a camera crew following and documenting, what would motivate people 4th or 5th in a chain to forward an email sent by someone 2 connections beyond their 3 degree hub of friendship. At that point, no longer is this a communication between a friend of a friend (wherein you are doing a favor for a friend of a friend) but you are doing "work" for people you not only do not know, they don't even know anybody that you know.


PROTECTING PERSONAL PRIVACY & PRIVACY OF YOUR CONNECTIONS: Forwarding emails to friends, knowing that your email address would be associated with your loop, and that your contact would be implicating them into the loop (thus adding their email address to travel on beyond them). You would not want your loop to die, thus you have to make an educated guess that the person you were sending it to would play along and forward it.


NOT WANTING TO BURN A FAVOR Some of your friends might be more connected or have more high profile job in a field closer to Television, Puppetry, or run in NY social circles similar to Joan Ganz Cooney, but in some cases you might not send to them because you either don't want to ask a favor of them for a stranger, when you have never asked a favor of them before (don't want to overstep your bounds of frienship), or you just know that they are not a person that would be willing to forward, and the loop would end there. A closer degree connection would be lost due to variables such as this, which can't be quantified.'

So, the possibility of this experiment succeeding depended largely on hoping that the pure curiosity of your contact, wanting to see if their little part in the experiment could make it succeed was enough. But is curiosity enough of a drivng force to to make people to continue the email chain (do work for no tangable reward)?



PROJECT GOAL: IN 6 STEPS OR LESS
CONNECT MOLLY TO SESAME STREET FOUNDER JOAN GANZ COONEY


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 know 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 hope was that the 6 Degrees of Separation theory would hold true and that within 6 hand shakes emails from one person to the next (5-7 on average they say) every person from the initial 88 test participants should be able to connect with any target person on Earth.

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
1.

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).




EXPERIMENT RESULTS: HOW MANY COMPLETED STRINGS?
OF 88 INITIAL CONTACTS HOW MANY SEPARATE MOLLY FROM JOAN GANZ COONEY


The big day finally arrived.
ONLY TWO PEOPLE SEPARATE MOLLY FROM JOAN GANZ COONEY



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 know, or Molly and I both know. If Molly and I both.



Michael Davis explains the origins of Sesame Street, and the key role Joan Ganz Cooney had in creating "the greatest and most influential telivision show in the history of televison."





















"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.


KEYWORDS:
sesame street, molly, joan cooney,joan ganz cooney, actress, bert, ernie, small world, network theory, social networks, big bird, grover, oscar, cookie monster, audition, birthday present, viral video, 40th anniversary, artwork, illustration, singing, art juggernaut, twitter, cast, bob, bob southern niece, what about bob, abby cadabby, jim henson, muppets, frank oz, count von count, six degrees of separation, six degrees, six degrees of sesame, 6 degrees of sesame,separation, kevin bacon, art, sesame, singing, experiment, mr hooper, fan site, viral, elmo, cojo art juggernaut, art juggernaut, cojo, cojoart, artsucks