Is the Internet changing our world into a “borderless society” or are geographical distances still relevant when it comes to social interactions? Jacob Goldenberg and Moshe Levy at Hebrew University analyzed Facebook users and the location of email messages to find out more. In their article “Distance Is Not Dead: Social Interaction and Geographical Distance in the Internet Era” the researchers raise doubts about the “Global-Village-Theory”. They come to the conclusion that the importance of physical proximity in social interactions is a “stronger force” than ever. It seems people prefer to send messages over shorter distances – they mostly connect online with those they know off-line.
For more details view the original article or the blog post on the subject in Technology Review, which also talks about “why we have gone so wrong in thinking that the world is getting smaller”, the “six-degrees-of-separation experiments originally performed by Stanley Milgram with letters and later by Steve Strogatz and Duncan Watts using e-mail”.