6 Degrees of Francis Bacon: A Review

Warren, Christopher, Daniel Shore, Jessica Otis, Scott Weingart, and John Ladd. Six Degrees of Francis Bacon. Accessed February 23, 2019. http://www.sixdegreesoffrancisbacon.com.

The website Six Degrees of Francis Bacon an attempt to link the English philosopher and public official Francis Bacon to his contemporaries, who lived during the Elizabethan era. Bacon sits in the center of what is a visual who’s who of the period. Names range from important to the lesser-known. This site is a great starting point for research on the era, and it is a great example of what crowd sourcing can do as the public contributes data for the site. The visual connections could aid a researcher in noticing a relationship they may have missed. The public has the ability to add new people to the web and expand the connections of the people already there.

While Queen Elizabeth would seem to be the obvious choice for a project like this, Francis Bacon is an excellent choice. Not only is it a parody of the Six Degrees of Keven Bacon game, but Sir Bacon had many spheres of influence during his life. He was a philosopher, scientist, and he served as Queen Elizabeth’s Lord High Chancellor. This gives him contacts with many types of people during his life who operated in many different spheres.

The website is easy to use, and after interacting with it for a bit of time it becomes easier to understand. A tutorial takes you through all the site’s features in a few minutes for those who would like a systematic guide. The data is displayed as a three-dimensional web that can be manipulated by clicking and dragging . Sir Bacon sits in the middle and different strands connect him to various people of the time. Although the site bears his name, researchers can make any name the focus of a smaller web with just a click. Although the name does mention six degrees this is somewhat misleading as only two levels of connections are available. Another feature is the ability to view groups of people. For instance, the researcher can click on one of the metadata boxes at the bottom of the page and call up all the philosophers in the web. There are almost 75 categories to activate. When viewing a person’s web, the boxes at the bottom light up to signal that members of those professions are present. To meet the needs of researchers who require more information about the people in the web, a box to the left provides links to three different research sites where more information is available.

The audience for this website may vary greatly. The connection to six degrees of Keven Bacon may attract casual web surfers. They may not stay for long though because the site is limited for that use. Researchers of the Elizabethan Age of England will get the most out of this site. Being able to see connections or looking for new relationships is what this site does best. Causal history buffs might get something out of this site too. They would be the target audience if the connections ran deeper. It is feasible that a casual history buff could spend hours seeing who claims a connection to Francis Bacon and wind up exploring those connections for hours. Maybe they will expand the Bacon web in the future.

The website makes for an interesting research tool. Both researchers and casual users would be able to get something out of a visit to this site. The lack of depth is a bit disappointing. The two levels of connections are a limit to both research and fun, but again, maybe the future will allow for expansion into a site worthy of its name.

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