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SixDegrees introduces online networking

Website allows you to connect with friends and strangers

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It’s a small world, but who knew there were so many Kevin Bacons in it? Launched in 1997 and springing conceptually from the cultural meme popularized by John Guare’s 1990 play Six Degrees of Separation, SixDegrees.com (www.sixdegrees.com) is a high-concept Rolodex that allows you to network electronically: Once you register and pony up names and e-mail addresses of friends, relatives, and business contacts, you can retrieve information on members’ locations, occupations, movie preferences, and brushes with celebrity.

But SixDegrees is exploding in ways its marketers never envisioned. One hot prank involves registering faux family relationships that read like a geneticist’s nightmare. In its database of more than a million members, the site lists seven Kevin Bacons, plus four Elvis Presleys, three Leonardo DiCaprios, and one Monica Lewinsky (connected to one of five James Deans through the seventh degree as a ”service provider”). Creator and president Andrew Weinreich concedes the network’s uncertainty factor: ”It’s more like a blind date than a personal date.” Granted, not every Bacon may be kosher, but somewhere on SixDegrees there’s someone you can do lunch with.

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