Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Social Media Laws of Thermodynamics

I saw that some one very clever had applied the Periodic Table to social media here to try and apply some of the thinking that chemists have used to make some order of the naturally occurring elements and in turn, try and predict how the elements will interact with each other. The aim being to try and determine how different social media elements will interact with each other. 

As a chemist by trade [my degree] I was [some have said] unnaturally over excited by this development. It is utter genius! I really really wish I'd thought of this.

So, instead of getting geek envy, I thought I would see if it worked for other scientific principles. And, by jove!, I think it does. The Laws of Thermodynamics determine how energy systems behave. Or more specifically, they explain how heat [energy put into a system] and work [energy got out of a system] behave in thermodynamic processes. 

I'm thinking that if we equate thermodynamic systems to different types of social media i.e. social media systems, then there are similarities between the laws of thermodynamics and how things work in social media. So, here goes my attempt and applying the thermodynamic laws to social media to try and help determine how social media systems behave.

The Laws of Social Media Thermodynamics.

1st Law of Thermodynamics
Energy cannot be created or destroyed

1st Law of Social Media Thermodynamics
Attention cannot be created of destroyed
By this I mean, the total amount of attention that any person can give to social media is finite - there are only 24 hours in the day. 

Another way of looking at it is:
1st Law of Thermodynamics states that the net heat applied to the system equals the net work done by the system. 
In the 1st Law of Social Media Thermodynamics this becomes: the net attention given to a social media system [e.g. Facebook, twitter etc] equals the net usefulness of that system. 
i.e. the more people put in or use a social media system, the more it does for them.

The mathematical way of expressing the first law is:
dE = TdS - PdV
Where E = Energy, 
T = temp, S = Entropy, [TdS = energy in]
P = pressure, V = Volume [PdV = energy out]
[btw Entropy is a measure of randomness]

In Social Media Thermodynamics
E = usefulness or value of a social media system to a person

Energy in:
T = time spent by a person using social media
S = the number of different social media channels a person uses

Energy out:
P = pressure you are under at work [i.e. time needed to spend on other things]
V = volume of tasks you need to do.

2nd Law of Thermodynamics
Energy systems have a tendency to increase their entropy over time

2nd Law of Social Media Thermodynamics
Social media systems increase their entropy over time
i.e. social media systems get more functions, features and people find more uses - the level of random-ness increases.

3rd Law of Thermodynamics
As temp approaches zero, entropy approaches a minimum

3rd Law of Social Media Thermodynamics
As time spent using social media tends to zero, the entropy of social media tends to zero
In other words, the less time people spend using social media, the less new types of social media, applications and uses are developed.

From my rough interpretation, I reckon it works. Kinda. But, its been a while since I studied thermodynamics at uni, so any thoughts on improvement greatly appreciated.  


Tom said...

And you were worried about geek envy?

Becky said...

I prefer frenemy :)

Chris Reed said...

Wow - that is some hardcore applied science. Which to my addled brain makes a bit of sense.

Top work Robin.

But how does it cope with the other scientific FACT - that using social media turns our kids' brains to mush. Hey? Answer me that then?!

(p.s. you got any London visit plans? Fancy a pint if so? You can explain to me what the bubbles do in lager;)

Robin Wilson said...

Hey Chris - glad to help with the addling:)
Saw the ridiculous story in the Daily Mail about Facebook causes brain damage. Utterly ridiculous!
Maybe in london soon. Will drop u a note

Robin Wilson said...

Hiya Becky - Frenemy. I actually heard someone use that once in public.

Robin Wilson said...

Tom - still not up there with the Periodic Table. Will keep trying tho:)