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Orlando Degrees of Connection



Orlando contains a relatively large corpus, currently consisting of details about the life and writing careers of roughly 1000 British women writers, amounting to 6.8 million words with 2.2 million semantic tags for everything from paragraphs to politics, plots, or relations with publishers. The Degrees of Connection project is an early experimental attempt to leverage this textbase for use by researchers who are interested in studying the network of connections between writers.


  1. No external resources are required!


  1. Go to: Degrees of Separation page
  2. Log in to the Orlando 6 degrees link (you will need to use the userid and password provided to you).
  3. Choose two writers.
  4. Decide the settings you want to use for type of link, proximity, exclusions, and restrictions.
  5. Examine the results, using the links provided to read the relevant passages.
  6. Try varying the settings. Exclusions in particular may need some adjustment as you work.


To trace a connection between Ella Baker and Frances Harper through organizational affiliations, choose the two names using the controls on the left, then select the radio button for “organizations”. The proximity choice and exclusions list underneath the “Linked by” choices are there to reduce the number of connections that may not prove to be very useful. Most British women writers, for instance, spent some time in London, so connecting them by places other than London is likely to be yield more interesting results.

Suggested Activities

  • Try to find people who have direct connections with each other.
  • Try to find people who have no connection with each other.
  • Try to find people who are separated by 3 or more degrees.



There is a page describing Degrees of Connection here:

Advanced Tips

  1. The Restrictions setting allows you to specify that the chain of connections should begin or end or both with the specified people.
  2. The default of close proximity typically works best, but for cases where there are fewer connections, it may be worthwhile loosening the restriction.

===Who has worked on creating it===

The Orlando Project was led by Patricia Clements, Isobel Grundy, and Susan Brown at the University of Alberta and the University of Guelph. The 6 degrees research team also includes Blair Nonnecke (Guelph), Claire Warwick (UCL), and Stan Ruecker (U of A).

Where to read about it

Brown, Susan, Jeffery Antoniuk, Sharon Farnel, Isobel Grundy, Stan Ruecker, Matt Patey, Stéfan Sinclair, and Milena Radzikowska. “Making Sense of Literary History: The Dense Associative Web of Orlando.” Paper presented at the third Digital Humanities and Computer Science (DHCS) Colloquium. Nov 1–3, 2008. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2008.

Some theory about connections is available in: Barabási, Albert-Lászlo. Linked: The New Science of Networks. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2002.


Online, with account by arrangement with Susan Brown.

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