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October 14, 2007 / Amy Bradney-George

Sunday: Speculations

If we’re to believe the six degrees of separation theory, which as been explored by various researchers since as early as 1929, then it really is a small world. And a lot has changed since the 1967 research done by Stanley Milgram to prove this theory. The internet is something significant which instantly comes to mind as a new tool of networking, and perhaps this has (reduced) changed the six degrees theory.

With that in mind, I’m currently contemplating the idea that in a more communicative world (broadly through internet, more specifically through email, networking sites, search engines etc) things can still be overlooked. Some people might even argue things are more likely to be overlooked because of the vast multitude of websites around. This raises a peculiar question for me: if we can do a basic internet search in 0.08 seconds these days, how is it that academic research can be so secular?

It seems logical that when people write academic articles they would do some of their research online. I mean, I’m a student and I still check to see that some of my ideas are original (to a point, Postmodernism reminds me). But still I will stumble across people/organisations/communities that claim to be “the first” to do something I know has been done before. Or I will find research which seems essentially the same, but with a different name for the theory in question. How does this happen and why don’t people strive to address this?

People could write a book on this kind of thing. I doubt it would make many sales, but there’s that many cases of it that I have found in just the past month. It can disadvantage researchers and organisations because they might overlook information which could benefit their projects, and it is also extremely confusing.

Some days I wonder if it isn’t because technology is being developed so fast that we haven’t yet had the time to make the most of it.

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