Friday, July 13, 2007


“In other words, Bartlebooth resolved one day that his whole life would be orginised around a single project, an arbitary constrained programme with no purpose outside its own completion ”,
George Perec, Life a Users Manual

In 1967, the sociologist Stanley Milgram carried out an experiment to see how people in a large social group are linked together. His hypothesis being that we are all connected by a simple series of connections.

To test this theory Milgram posted small packets to a 60 individuals in Kansas with instructions to try and pass these packages to a target person in Boston. The one rule being that people could only pass the packages to someone they were on personal first-name terms with. To assist they were given a series of clues about the target to help inform their choice.

His results formed the basis for his famous theory of “six degrees of separation”, which was became a part of our popular culture through its use in the John Guare play of the same name.

It has become a part of our social knowledge, a piece of interesting trivia that we all take for granted, but is it true?

When you actually read Milgram’s finding the truth becomes a little cloudier, out of the 60 original packages only 3 actually made it to their target. Either 57 people were very badly connected or just couldn’t be bothered to finish the experiment. Even more worrying, some sources state that in several repeated experiments the return ratio was so poor that the data was never published.

On reading about this inconsistency of the results it got our little brains thinking. We like the idea of all mankind being linked and connected within a few short steps and we want to prove it true. It would seem in our modern world of wars, poverty and intolerance the connections we all share is something worth championing and therefore, as a celebration of this, we have decided to try the experiment again but this time on a global scale.

Many people have asked us why, we reply why not, the world could do with a few more pointless tasks whose sole aim is to make people smile.

We desperately hope one day to see all our little friends return from their adventures and we shall miss them dearly when they are gone. But even if only one box ever returns home with tales of places it’s been, the people it’s met and lives it’s touched, we shall be very happy. If you come across one on your travels, please be kind to it and help it any way you can.

For further inofrmation on Stanley Milgram and the small world theory please follow the below links.



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