Sunday, 11 September 2016

Facebook's greatest mistakes!

#Facebook, #futuretrends, #Zuckerberg, #Pardus, #Horton, #Dunbar, #socialmedia, #Messenger, #DeclineofFacebook, #socialmediamarketing, #smm, #socialnetwork, #socialnetworking


The question of the change in peoples habits on Facebook is well known. People share less of their original content and share more of others. The platform is transforming from its social networking structure to something new.

Its evolving.

We want to take a different slant on this and ask the “Why?” question. And we don’t want to trivialise this. 

We want to ask WHY it has transformed and HOW it has transformed and whether in attempting to answer these questions we might see where its going?

Let’s begin by asking what we know and how Facebook have responded to it.

View the video blog here.

The history
It maybe that you point to ‘MySpace’ or, perhaps, ‘Friends Reunited’, now defunct, and say social media sites are a bit like civilisations, they rise, they fall, it is the natural order of things. Firstly this trivialises real historic trends and secondly whilst you might be broadly correct, the specific case and the nature of what we might consider “a fall” has to be accounted for.

An interesting and controversial place to start is the pre-print by Cannavella and Spelcher They did a neat little test. They looked at the relative popularity of the term ‘Facebook’ for searches on Google over time. This grew, peaked and has started to decay away in 2014. They noted exactly the same form of behaviour for the term ‘MySpace’. This broad distorted bell shaped peak for MySpace they argued represented its relative popularity and its social presence.

Over an 8 year period MySpace went from zero to boom and then to bust. They suggested that social connections on the web were not unlike catching a contagious illness being passed from person to person until it grows uncontrollably until eventually the contagion’s effectiveness falls away again. Using the mathematics of contagion transmission they found a good fit to MySpace data. And they suggested that if they applied this to Facebook data then activity on Facebook was doomed!

This idea was heavily criticised and rightly so, but their basic concept that some form of decline is coming for Facebook was not misguided.

Here you can see the search data compared for FB and Myspace and there is indeed some similarity in form. If we normalise the peak height of data from MySpace, Facebook and also for Pinterest, Deviant Art and Tumblr and shift the data so they overlay we see some similarity in form.

We have diagrammatically an initial rise in popularity, a social adoption of the platform followed by a decline, the width of which is a measure of the social cohesion of the community. 

There is significant variation in the relative cohesiveness of the people on those platforms with Facebook being relatively broad and so a slow decay. However we still see a decline in search interest as suggested by the the original authors. Love or loathe their idea, the data is still showing a continuing decline. Tumblr and Pinterest are still on the rise but looking at the typical lifetimes of social platforms that would be expected as they are younger.

As an aside and just to convince you that not all Google search data takes this bell curve form in this timescale, here’s a different search pairing: Lingerie and Chocolate. This analysis can show useful trends and answer many of life’s deeply held questions!

You can see the complex harmonic regularity of searches, each peak in the data corresponding to Christmas and Valentines day, when Chocolate and Lingerie are clearly popular. But you note it shows something else, the searches for chocolate are far stronger than searches for lingerie proving once and for all that chocolate is more popular than sex.

Back to the main story. Whether you like search data as evidence or not, it bears out Facebook’s own data which confirms social activity generating original content is in decline on the platform. “The Information” reported a 21% decline in personal shares on Facebook, and personal shares is something that is actively being encouraged by Mark Zuckerberg and the team.

Other features are collapsing, referrals for example are in decline. As we reported in a previous blog on social dissonance, it means people share content they don’t actually view. So whilst people might share publishers content such as Buzzfeed or Huffington Post, people actually viewing content on these platforms has declined by many 10’s of percent. (Its not universal Vice for example is doing OK).

One reason for this, it is argued, is the growth of “chat space”, but this is more of an observation than an explanation for Facebook’s decline.

Facebook responded to these quick exchange platforms like Twitter (a sort of social chat space), WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, kik, the list goes on and on,
by launching Messenger.

They are keen on users transferring to Messenger. And make no mistake Facebook is enforcing this change on the users. As from early June 2016 all users were forced to carry out all conversations through Messenger, a platform capable of supporting more than just text messaging. 

But are they going to go down the same route again and could this cause Messenger to decline too after its early adoption. Will it loose its social cohesion? Stay tuned and find out.

Dunbar’s number(s) are old friends when it comes to analysing community structures. And whilst this concept might vary in detail and in specific values of numbers in social groupings the ideas are themselves are reasonably well accepted.  Dunbar argued that social groupings develop each with a particular characteristic set of interactions, from very close friends to distant connections. Providing drivers exist these groups will maintain their number of members. So you will have on average a certain number of close friends, and on average a certain number of mates whom you know quite well, then beyond that another circle of acquaintances and so on.

Now this work has anthropological support from the study of the neocortex of primates and is potentially an evolutionary manifestation in the broadest sense of that term. What is also very important is what holds these groups together, so a hunter-gatherer community may group differently to agrarian societies. Another thing that is important in Dunbar's ideas is the presence of the drivers to hold the groups together.

Numerical classification of social groupings has been observed before by other commentators. But less well known is that Dunbar in January 2016 specifically applied his ideas to Facebook. So now we are starting to stray into new territory.

His findings were exciting because we are able to see explicit evidence for Dunbar’s numerical hierarchies of social association in Facebook. And sure enough the data confirms his ideas giving an inner circle of close friends numbering about 4 on average and a further 14 good friends as the next circle out.

Beyond that the patterns become more hazy. Dunbar suggests patterns go up in multiples of 3 so he would expert social connections with similar patterns at 50, 150, 450 and about 1500. And his findings for Facebook confirm this.

So we have some idea of how we operate on Facebook, the types of links we have and their close similarity to those we might expect to see in real world social groupings. 

Now take this analysis a step further. And this is where things start to become interesting. Fuchs et al analysed an on-line browser based space game called Pardus. ( It is a multiplayer game where you are involved in a virtual community of space pilots where trading, pirating and smuggling occur and you can build friendships, form associations and alliances for players mutual benefits. Some of the social collectives such as large alliances (political factions ~ 2000) are dictated by the games structure, others you are free to develop as you wish. The game has been very widely studied and shown to be a virtual society with many of the properties of a real society.

In one exercise undertaken by the team they analysed the structure of the society in terms of a Horton - Strahler number. This method of analysis considers the connectivity as being represented somewhat like a river delta that branches with more and more complexity as the delta gets larger and larger. The Horton number, denoted as h, represents the highest level of branching in the flow pattern.

Applying this to the hierarchical structures of society an interesting pattern emerges. At a Horton number of h=1 we are dealing with just the individual. As we get to h=2 we get to close friends, at h=3 we get friends, by h=4 alliances, groups we are closely allied too and so on. When h=7 we have encompassed all the game players.

It becomes even more interesting if we start using their numerical analysis in light of Dunbar’s work. They suggest that societies are organised in a fractal fashion as,

G(h) ~ p^h

where p=4.42 and G(h) represents the size of the group with a Horton number of h. Now its worth noting this is a multi-fractal structure with each level of the structure determining the relationship to the group size.

Putting in all the constants we get,

ln(G(h) = C + h ln(p)

Now here is an interesting experiment. Suppose we set our group size to be the Dunbar’s hierarchy of social structures and back calculate the Horton number. So for example,

Looking at this sequence the Horton number goes up by 1 level of branching complexity with each growth in the group. However at high levels of population this begins to fail. So turning this idea on its head can we determine an equivalent Dunbar number for simple changes in the Horton number.

What this allows us to do is to visualise the nature and complexity of these networks in simple form. 

Firstly Facebook has limited the organic reach of posts, so we may assume our “natural” network structure is disrupted.

Secondly Facebook has allowed, indeed encouraged agents outside our network to intrude upon it, groups that it thinks we might be interested in through marketing and advertising posts. But this is broadcasting content rather personal content. And worse still we may share and post some of this content written by third parties so that our network is now getting this information directly and possibly indirectly devaluing our posts. This is broadcasting rather than us talking to our network.

Thirdly, and this is an even bigger disruptive factor. As is often quoted, “we are all publishers now”. And in the case of our on-line image we are trying to manage our image to a wide group. And yet we know measures of social dissonance are telling us not only is the content broadcasting into our network not appropriate as something to reinforce our network, it is also arising from false shares. We are sharing things to promote our social image but not content we are truly interested in. So even our own broadcasts are false. And we might by extension feel they don’t match the true interests of others in that network. In short the shares are a sham.

The network is now a noisy mess. We’ve gone from a dinner party with friends to a club where the music is not only loud but nobody wants to dance to it any more.

And we can imagine that we want to be truer to ourselves with our closest friends and post appropriate material, things we know represent us and not some socially desirable version. The social groupings Dunbar proposed from anthropological research require a sound and compelling reason to remain connected and for all the above reasons we suggest this network is being irretrievably disrupted. Irretrievable because the social behaviour is inherent in us. Our network has grown beyond its purpose and we fail to control and discipline our shares within it and we lead to a presence which is “not us” we are partly alienated from our own presence, its a ghost presence for high orders of h but one not appropriate to our h= 2, 3 or 4 level friends.


Facebook still has a large captive audience. It is not dead. It is becoming more suited to be a targeted news aggregator and a source for advertisers and marketers to garner your interest. And of course retaining the Messenger connection will help too to keep Facebookers on the platform. 

In terms of Dunbar’s groupings we could speculate that Facebook is heading towards a natural social divide: That is our closest two groupings of friends are reserved for the Messenger space and the others reside in Facebook. That is probably too simple in terms of the division of the public and private self and more likely this is a new stratification of social structures.

So what now for Chats? These form a disciplined structure for us and limit the range and extent of communication. Its a form of social governance. And if what is speculated here is right then there are dangers in Facebook intruding into this private space of users. But equally Facebook may think to themselves that because the social cohesion is so high in these close groups we can indeed allow external intrusions without damaging the social connections. So marketing through Chatbots and more direct content may be successful. As Messenger has high levels of immediacy it is critical to Facebook that they do not disrupt its functional convenience. Disrupt this and you disrupt the network cohesion and the social grouping collapses.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

How fashion conscious are you on Facebook?

Is your online identity really you? Find out what we airbrush on our online avatar and why.


#Facebook #fashion #Outbrain #onlineadvertising #FashionWatch #celebrity #CTR #craftshout #onlinemarketing #contentmarketing #cool #modernlife #digitallife #everydaylife #psychology #daretoshare #integrityis #integrityonline

Monday, 2 May 2016

Rural Broadband - an innovation

The latest in pigeon carrier technology competes with the best of rural broadband. 2Tb delivered to your doorstep! Funny video

#superfast #fibre #ruralbroadband #rural #broadband #pigeon #highspeedinternet #Cumbria #TheLakeDistrict #Internet

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Beatrix Potter 150 years

A quick update about the latest programme on Beatrix Potter one of our most famous children's author who lived and worked in The Lake District. You need to be quick - or find it on-line if you can...

Friday, 1 April 2016

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Spring lambs, walkers and rare birds - it must be Cumbria!

Back by popular demand, we have some more spring lambs. There's a demoiselle crane at Mockerkin Tarn (20/03/16) and a charity walk from Workington to Keswick comes calling.

Enjoy. Visit and Subscribe at YouTube ScientificArtsImages.

#lucyruralandcreative, #whitestuff, #cumbriaisopen, #cumbria, #thelakedistrict, #rurallife, #demoisellecrane, #lambs, charity walk, #rarebirdalert

Sunday, 13 March 2016

A hectic morning in The Lake District - Lapwings

If you think nothing happens in The Lake District, think again. A typical Sunday morning, horses, cyclists and wild life. Lapwings, our first attempt at filming. We will be back with more sound and camera equipment.

#lucyruralandcreative, #lapwing, #Cumbria, #thelakedistrict, #rurallife, #cumrbiaisopen

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Too busy for Crufts!

Well, Murphy is such a cool dude. He joined us on a recent photo shoot. Almost always too busy for Crufts he says. Enjoy.

#lucyruralandcreative, #rurallife, #crufts, #jackrussell, #GoogleVirtualTour, #Dumfries

Sunday, 6 March 2016

I just love a log fire on a cold and wintry night. Here's light a log fire.

#lucyruralandcreative #rurallife #Cumbria #thelakedistrict #scan #logfire #lightingalogfire

Cheers everyone!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Spring Lambs Alert! Springtime in Cumbria

We just find new born spring lambs the cutest things. This is part of a video blog which is all about living and working in a rural environment. By rural we mean in deepest Cumbria in a small village with only a telephone box and a mail box.

There’s lots to test you in the countryside and lots of rewards too.
For more updates subscribe to the ScientificArtsImages YouTube channel.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Just what is the prettiest photoshoot you can do?

Just what is the prettiest shoot you can do? Well, I think it must be a florists. It was a first for us, The Hanging Basket in Lancaster has been one of our most picturesque shoots.
Try Googling ‘The Hanging Basket Lancaster’ on an iPad or tablet and first take a look at ‘Photos’ and as you scroll you will see lots of lovely flowers and displays as below.
The Hanging Basket Lancaster Photos
It was a smallish space in which to work, but the Google Tour looks great, try moving around in the image below

Or even better try it on Google Cardboard (Google Street View App) for the full immersive virtual reality experience
The Hanging Basket Lancaster on Google Cardboard
Bet you didn’t know you could do that now – did you! A-maz-ing!

Thursday, 18 February 2016

How much material do you need for a kilt?

According to Anderson Kilts of Dumfries, it’s at least 8 whole yards, and that’s a lot when you come to think about it. It’s a very specialist and highly skilled endeavour.
In order to entertain, I’ve had a look for any good quotes by Robert Burns, and have drawn a blank. This is seriously lacking (perhaps someone out there can throw me some good quotes about kilts). Move around in the Google virtual tour below.

You can have your own family tartan and we saw suitcases with peoples own personally kilted regalia all neatly cared for and ready to go for their next social event. And since this does not come cheap, you must remember to keep the moths at bay!
And for those of you still wondering, I will leave the last word to Spike Milligan ‘Is there anything worn under the kilt? No, it’s all in perfect working order.’

Anderson Kilts Dumfries

Anderson Kilts Dumfries

Thursday, 11 February 2016

It's anything but glamorous!

One of the things about doing a shoot in a hair or beauty salon such as Nelson Browns, is the problem with all the multiple reflections in the mirrors. The other day we performed a minor miracle to get all the shots for the Google Virtual Tour without the camera or ourselves getting in the picture. Mind you, it meant hiding in the toilet for most of the shoot for one of us! It was worth it though.
Click on the arrow on the floor, and then drag and zoom in and out of the image below.

We were with Nelson Brown at his salon, this time in Lockerbie. Nelson specialises in education and has a fantastic team behind him. Nelson also assists backstage on hair for the cat walks at London, New York, Paris and Milan fashion weeks, including John Rocha, Burberry, Jasper Conran, Paul Smith… and you can see why. Now this IS glamorous!
Amazing hair by Nelson Brown.

Fab hair by Nelson Brown

Saturday, 6 February 2016

How not to impress at a beauty shoot...

Unlike Nelson’s style beneath, I’ve been perfecting the ‘through a hedge backwards look’ recently that only I can be proud of. Yes the day we came to do our shoot at Browns, we arrived in a rain storm. We were so wet through, Nelson Brown offered us towels to dry off!
And of course Browns just happens to be a hair salon! It was very embarrassing for us to turn up like that to say the least!
And it wasn’t just any hair salon. It’s not often that you come across such exciting talent.
Nelson Brown fabulous hair design

Nelson has just been awarded 5 stars in the Good Salon Guide, and we came to do his Google Virtual Tours for his salons. Here’s our tour of the Dumfries salon.

If you want to see more of Nelson’s style tune in to our next blog…

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

What makes a good Whisky? Is it prancing about in a kilt?

Ask one hundred people and you will get one hundred answers. It has been said that there are at least 500 brands of whisky in the world – so there seems plenty to have a go at.
There’s certainly plenty here at this local specialist, T B Watson in Dumfries. Click and drag on the image below.

We’ve tried the elusive Glenmorangie Cellar 13, now going up and up in price. And by experts I am told this is (or was) one of the best, being influenced by it’s being aged in barrels close to the sea shore. So the ‘terroir’ and casking is a major part of the magic.
Theories and myths abound, particularly The Angel’s Share, which is the small proportion of the whisky which is lost through evaporation from the barrels. A film was made with this title, and directed by Ken Loach in 2012 and is worth a look.
Apart from the famous 1949 Whisky Galore film, there is also a 1897 Dewars Scotch Whisky film, reputed to be the first filmed advertisement. In advance of their time, some have suggested that the dancers in Scottish kilts are rather the worse for wear whilst they dance in front of a Dewars Whisky sign. Which seems rather harsh!

Colour Psychology in Restaurants

As a restaurant owner, one of the most important factors for your success (after the provision of good food) is often the decor and ambience. But what to choose?
Each restaurant is different and individual, and it has been shown that the colour red, attracts people, stimulates people to talk, stimulates blood pressure and heart rate and most importantly stimulates the appetite. You just need to Google ‘the use of the colour red in restaurants’ to find more about this.
It’s not exactly known why this should be. We’ve got an example below of one that works, The Granite Kitchen, Dalbeattie, Scotland. We had a business meeting here, and talk was free flowing and exciting and we observed a great turn over of clientele. The ambience that is created is good.
Click and drag on the image below. It all tastes as good as it looks.

If you Google ‘The Granite Kitchen Dalbeattie’ then this is what you see on a pc (other devices give similar results), with appropriate imagery. It looks good.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

The Nail Factory, Dalbeattie, another fab Google tour

Here we have a very lovely gallery, in Dalbeattie. It provides studio space and workshops for artists and hosts exhibitions. Try clicking and dragging on the image below. This is their Google Tour.

Now for some of my favourite shots from the shoot

Totem at The Nail Factory, Dalbeattie
At The Nail Factory, Dalbeattie
At The Nail Factory, Dalbeattie
At The Nail Factory, Dalbeattie
It’s always important to show you how things appeared before and after the Google Tour. Here’s before the tour when searching on an iPad (you get similar results on other devices). You would not even know it was a gallery and in fact the image is pointing at a different building!

The Nail Factory, Dalbeattie, before the Google Tour

Below we have The Nail Factory AFTER the Google Tour. Now there is much more appropriate and inviting imagery. What a difference for prospective visitors!

The Nail Factory, Dalbeattie AFTER the Google Tour

A great place for artists and collectors. Go seek it out.
We will be visiting another place in Dalbeattie, and it will be hot…

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Gadding about with Google, on your Treks

It comes to something when you can race around the world in a few minutes on-line.
It’s surprising what you can find on Street View or perhaps rather it’s surprising what is NOT on Street View.
I found the world famous Petra on Maps. Just go to Google Maps and search for Petra.
Petra on Google Maps
Then drop the little man on the map as close to the pin as possible and spin around to see this.

If it’s cold and wet outside you can go to Petra, climb El Capitan in Yosemite, visit Venice and many other amazing places at Google Treks
Treks has a wealth of information, audio and visual to keep you interested. Google have so far covered Petra, Samburu, El CApitan Yosemite (AMAZING), Nepal, Gombe National Park, Pyramids of Giza, Angkor Wat, Colorado River, Churchill, Taj Mahal, Venice, Galapagos Islands, Eiffel Tower, Mt Fuji, Burj Khalifa, Iqaluit, Everest base camp, Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef, Amazon Basin, Kennedy Space Centre.
Here’s Petra, and you can go right inside. I leave you to explore…click on the image.