Facebook and Fractals

Mon, Jul 20, 2009

Random Thoughts by Mark L. Fox

I’m kinda new to Facebook and learning about social media the way most of us are; diving in and skinning our knees along the way.

I think it is really interesting the way such a simple concept like Facebook can be so viral. You start out by simply signing up and searching for a few friends or someone sends you a friend invite. From there it miraculously grows into a beast of its own, all based on the simplest of ideas; share stuff with some friends.

“I think it’s kinda like Fractals. Have you ever thought about it that way?”

“What the hell is a Fractal?” my friend asked.

“You know what a fractal is!”

“No…. I have never heard that word before.”

So I gave him my simplest explanation:

“A fractal is one of the most beautiful images in the world. It replicates itself to true infinity. The closer and closer you look at it, the more complexity you see. And it all comes from the simplest math equation in the world.”

Get it? Facebook and nearly all social media are based on the simplest of ideas yet they create incredibly complex outcomes. Chaos Theory at its best.

I have been fascinated with Fractals for more than a decade. Not just their beauty, but deeply intrigued with the concept of simplicity creating and explaining the infinitely complex?

Simple but infinitely complex; like E= MC**2, where energy and matter are interchangeable.

I asked three more friends if they knew what a fractal was. They all said no.


If you simply plot the data to this simple equation;

Z = z **2 + C

You get these images:


(if you are receiving this via email and don’t see the video and/or picture(s), then click on the article title at the top of the page, which takes you to the blog)

Could there be a simple formula then that could solve:

• Terrorism
• Swine Flu
• Clean water
• Global Warming
• Obesity

Kary Mullis is a great example: while everyone was trying to find the needle in the haystack of DNA, Kary simply wrote a simple formula for the needle in the DNA to replicate itself. Then you end up with a pile of needles that are easier to find.

He won a Noble Prize for his simple formula.

Do you have a simple formula?

Or maybe switch gears…look at it the Other Way Round: Do you have an issue that you are making way to complicated? Is there a simple, easy solution you just missed?

If you want to learn more on fractals, here is a great show to watch:

Colors of Infinity

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Mark L. Fox

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