More on social media, macaques, and early Roman social networks

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I write from Crotons Cottage on Williams Hill, in a tiny burg called Wootton, near Woodstock, in Oxfordshire (there are at least four Woottons in Oxfordshire, I’m told).  It’s about ten minutes outside Oxford, where some interesting research on social networks is underway,  continuing our earlier thought about the 17th and 18th centuries, and extending beyond a single species and into the primates.

The researchers, led by Jerome Sallet of Oxford University, said the results of the new study bear some similarities to research by other groups working with humans, that related to the extent of social interactions. These studies include recent work that suggested a link between the volume of some regions of the brain and the number of online friends people have in such as Facebook.

The new study observed 23 macaques in a number of groups of different sizes. The monkeys were kept in their groups for an average of over a year, and a minimum of two months. One monkey was alone in its cage, but in all the other groups, which had from two to seven individuals, a heirarchy developed in which an individual’s rank depended on the monkey’s ability to form successful social interactions, such as friendships and partnerships.

The study used (MRI) to compare the brains of the monkeys, and the results showed that in the temporal areas of the brain associated with social interaction skills, around a five percent increase in the volume of gray matter was found for each additional group member.

So go ahead. Make your brain bigger.  Twitter away.

In the meantime, Dave Lull contributed to the discussion with a link that the internet-savvy approach to information began even earlier than the 17th century From The Dabbler:

The Acta Diurna were daily public notices, posted up in public locations around Rome. Lesson one – put your information where the audience is.

The content mixed dry official news such as the latest magistrates to have been elected with news of greater human interest, such as notable births, marriages and deaths or strange omens. Lesson two – spice up information with interesting human colour.  …

And it was just as inaccurate as it is today:

Whilst out of power, Cicero was moved to complain about the contents of the Acta Diurna for giving others a false impression of what he had been up to: “I receive letters from princes of foreign states thanking me for the part I have taken in making them kings, while I did not even know that there were such persons in the world”. Lesson four – if you want to influence what people think about you, don’t leave it to others to do all the communication.

Bear with me, dear readers, through this internet interval.  My access may be sporadic while I’m in the U.K.  Especially in Wootton.

 

 


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