Message from the Editor

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Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy debuted the idea of six degrees of separation in a 1929 short story. The concept that any two people are separated by no more than six intermediate connections gained popularity with the 1993 film Six Degrees of Separation, adapted from the play of the same name.

How does the theory play out in social media circles? Last year researchers at the University of Milan analyzed 721 million active Facebook users and their more than 69 billion friendships. They found that, on average, any two individuals are connected by just 4.74 acquaintances.

We tested the findings using the four feature articles in this issue.

Our cover story on retiring President James D. Spaniolo examines his nearly nine-year administration, which brought unprecedented growth in enrollment, research activity, philanthropic support, and the physical campus. President Spaniolo has more than 700 Facebook friends, one of whom is Ryan Haire.

A senior in the Athletic Training Education Program, Haire is profiled in our story on the University’s new Sports Medicine Center and how its cutting-edge equipment prepares students for successful careers. I am among Haire’s 500-plus Facebook friends.

One of my friends is Jocelyn Zee, who graced the cover of our spring 2002 issue. She enrolled at UT Arlington at age 13 and graduated with a microbiology degree at 17. Now a doctor, Zee is part of our article about academic prodigies who nurtured their genius at UT Arlington.

That’s four acquaintances linking three stories. The final article, which ties them all together, explores our tendency to reveal too much personal information when communicating via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. It stems from sociology Professor Ben Agger’s book Oversharing: Presentations of Self in the Internet Age.

Today’s world is much more connected than Karinthy ever could have imagined.

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