Six Degrees of Satoshi

Squeezed January 20, 2007

It’s said that the Internet has made the world a smaller place, and that the phenomenon known as Web 2.0, referring to the current trend of social networking services, is shrinking the world down to manageable proportions.

There is the notion that every person living on earth is, on average, six people removed from anyone else in the world. This notion launched party games such as “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” and also serious research such as the Milgram small-world experiment. In that experiment, randomly selected residents in Omaha and Wichita were asked to get packages to a contact point in Boston by sending it to people they knew on a first-name basis. The packages that made it to the destination did so within 5 to 6 steps on average.

Which brings me to what has become the Find Satoshi project.

Mind Candy Games, a British game publisher, has put together a game known as Perplex City in which people try to solve puzzles on cards in order to find a buried treasure somewhere on Earth for which there is a real-life US$200,000 reward. One of the clues to the puzzle is held by an ostensibly Japanese man known only as Satoshi. His picture appears on the card, along with these Japanese words: 私を見つけなさい。(“Find me.”) His picture was taken in Kayserberg, France. It is not known whether he lives in France, Japan, or somewhere else. The puzzle involves making contact with him to get a certain clue as to the larger game.

Fortunately, Satoshi himself has agreed to be part of the project and is not consciously hiding. At the same time, though, I’m not sure whether he really knew what he’s getting himself into.

This is by far the most ambitious test of the “six degrees” hypothesis to date. Has the Internet really made the world a smaller place? Is there really no place for people to hide? We shall see. It seems hard, but I don’t think it’s beyond the realm of possibility.

さとしさん、世界は是非見つけると思います。

Satoshi, I think the world WILL find you.

(hat tip Digg)

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments from first time commenters are moderated and will be posted at my first opportunity, usually within 48 hours.