Carnegie Mellon University and Georgetown University have unveiled a digital humanities project called “Six Degrees of Francis Bacon” that shows a British early modern social network. It can “trace the personal relationships among figures like Bacon, Shakespeare, Isaac Newton and many others.”
According to the project director Christopher Warren:
Are you researching Anne Boleyn to find out if she knew Thomas More, author of ‘Utopia?’ Now, you can see that in an instant. But not only that, you can see all of the people they knew, thus giving you new ways to consider communities, factions, influences and sources. It’s critical for scholars because even experts have a hard time keeping so many relations in their heads. Meanwhile, newcomers have nearly instantaneous access to contextual information that’s often really difficult to access.
It probably won’t replace the Kevin Bacon version in popularity but “Six Degrees of Francis Bacon” is still a neat tool for exploring historical relationships.