Saturday, June 26, 2010

Just Six Things

A direct link to the above video is at

Image from wikipedia, depicting "six degrees of separation"

What if there were only six vectors needed to describe every aspect of our universe in its current state, and every possible version of our universe from its very beginning to its ultimate end? Last month, in Three Becomes One, we returned to the idea that all six dimensions become a "point" -- indicating a position within the multiverse landscape -- in the seventh dimension and above with my approach to visualizing the extra dimensions, and that's why the fine structure constant and basic physical laws stay locked in and unchanging for our particular universe. Last entry, in Are Bees More Sixth-Dimensional, we took a look at a variety of ideas related to six-sided shapes, six dimensions, and the mind-blowing theory that honey bees are using sixth-dimensional geometry to communicate the positions of new food sources to each other.

Six has been an important number to this project since its inception. In fact, back in 2006 I bought the domain name, because I was thinking that might be a good name for my next book. I also bought and because they were available and seemed like possibly useful variations. was taken though, and as I mentioned last time, that's the new website that I'd like to talk about in today's entry.

The six degrees of separation concept is interesting in the way it ties into our discussions of connectedness and the nature of reality, but it has other uses as well: many different projects have found ways to use this idea as their launching pad. For instance, was an early social networking site that ran from 1997 to 2001, and at the peak of its popularity it had one million registered users. Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a trivia game that suggests no matter what actor you name, you should be able to use six steps or less to find a connection to Kevin Bacon. In 2007 Kevin Bacon started a charitable giving site called to show how this concept can be used to make people's lives better.

Here's the logo for You'll see that the slogan here is recursive as you go round and around the circle: "six things you like from the six things you like from the..." and so on. is a "relevance engine". Here's what they say about the project from a recent press release:

6things you like in 6 minutes Everyday.... 6things is a relevance engine, that is a perfect solution for information overload, without losing time. is a non-linear innovation, in that it
* Provides 6things you like from 6,844,647 things
* Eliminates the need to maintain yet another account
* Improves signal-to-noise ratio by deducing your 'micro-interests'
* Reduces wasted time by kicking you off in 6 minutes

Even if the user did not share enough content, no worries. Simply press on one of the 6 Buttons up on top, that captures your interest.

Passively discover curators with similar taste, without actively searching for them. Our Algorithms computes the 'taste distance' between you and others based on 'micro-interests'.

Passively consume real-time content that is your current object of attention, without actively searching for 6,844,647 things. Our Machine Learning Algorithm extracts your 'micro-interests' from your shared content.

You don't have to remember yet another password or have to signup. The product can be accessed from

Here's three twitter feeds for you: 6things (the project's feed), vasusrini (creator of the project), and samdida (co-creator and designer). I've not heard the term "relevance engine" before, but I do like the concept. Stumbleupon, for instance, could be thought of as a user-driven relevance engine, and that service continues to be one of the most popular ways for people to find my 11-minute animation about the ten dimensions. Likewise, I've talked a number of times about web 3.0 pioneer Nova Spivack and his brainchild, which uses a combination of user recommendations and the semantic web to filter out the signal from the noise for people trying to deal with The Stream. "The Stream" is what Mr. Spivack calls the oncoming deluge of information we're all having to deal with more and more each day.

In the early months of this blog (back in 2007) I was using the phrase "conceptual framing" a lot, which relates to these discussions. We tend to think in frames, we don't do so well imagining an atom and a galaxy at the same time, but if we take ideas one step at a time, one frame of reference connected to the next, we find it easier to process. Will achieve its goal of providing relevant new links in an extremely timely manner? The project is just in beta right now, but it seems like a great idea and I look forward to watching them grow.

Here are six other past blogs where I've talked about the "Just Six Things" concept and the importance of the number six:

Just Six Things: The I Ching
E8 and the Semantic Web
What's Around the Corner?
The Statistical Universe
Alien Mathematics
Time in 3 Dimensions

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Next: Love and Gravity

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