Albert-László Barabási believes that, regardless of what you're doing on the internet at any given moment, you can reach virtually any web page in 19 or fewer clicks. The Hungarian physicist put together a simulated model of the world wide web — currently estimated to exceed 14 billion unique pages — hoping to strengthen his understanding of the relationship between all that data. Barabási describes the web as an information network where documents (over one trillion, according to the professor's estimate) serve as "nodes." "Other well-known network structures include the Internet, a physical network where the nodes are routers and the links are physical connections, and organizations, where the nodes are people and the links represent communications," reads an extract from the piece, published in this month's Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.
It sounds technical, but ultimately Barabasi concludes that search engines, content aggregators, and index services play an essential role in helping us reach the lesser-known outlier pages across the web. He literally dubs them as "Kevin Bacons," referencing the ease with which Bacon can be linked to any actor that's ever appeared on screen. Barabási reasons that his 19-click figure holds up regardless of the internet's growing scale, with products like Facebook also helping us "connect" with any page we're looking for — and those we never knew existed.