CategoryObservations

The Three Percent

Why Facebook Is a Waste of Time—and Money—for Arts Nonprofits

I’d argue Facebook is a waste of time and money for any group or organization where your goal is to grow your following. But let’s hear it from an arts non-profit.

The Center for Artistic Activism discusses their experience with their Facebook group.

We currently have 4,093 “fans” of our page on Facebook.

These 4,093 fans were gained over years of activity and posting. They do not pay for followers, choosing to use their dollars on furthering their goals of artistic activism, rather than enriching one of the largest corporations in the world.

Screenshot of C4AA’s Facebook analytics. Courtesy of Steve Lambert.

This shows how many people (anyone, not exclusively fans of our page) have seen our posts over the past three months. With a few exceptions, you can see most posts don’t reach more than a tenth of the number who have opted to follow our page. In recent weeks, we’ve reached an average of around 3 percent.

3% of their audience is seeing their posts.

People think the Facebook algorithm is complicated, and it does weigh many factors, but reaching audiences through their algorithm is driven by one thing above all others: payment. Facebook’s business model for organizations is to sell your audience back to you.

If you pay Facebook, more of your audience will see your posts. If you don’t pay Facebook, you’re better off screaming into the night. Or posting flyers on a telephone pole.

Do we think that Facebook is turning the internet from an autonomous, social democratic space into an expanding, poorly managed shopping mall featuring a food court of candied garbage and Jumbotrons blasting extreme propaganda that’s built on top of the grave of the free and open web? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

I love this description of Facebook. It also reminds me of the food court in Tysons Corner mall. For those outside the area, think of the last time you were in an airport. Now turn the televisions up louder, make the seats less comfortable and add a dozen screaming/crying children and you’re off to a good start.

Left Touchpad Keyboard

What I want.

Where I want it.

Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death are a series of dollhouses built to mimic real crime scenes. They were created as a teaching tool. A collection of tiny crime scenes created by Frances Glessner Lee, the “Godmother of Crime Science Investigation”.

In 1936 she gave a large sum of money to Harvard University to establish the first program of legal medicine.  The program trained doctors to become medical examiners. In 1945, Lee started and presided over week-long training seminars to teach police how to gather clues from a crime scene.

Given that it was logistically and legally impossible to visit real crime scenes during the training seminars, Lee decided she would build miniature death scenes for the police to study. Each one would be based on a real death.

A doll lays dead on the floor of a bathroom.

I learned about these studies from an episode of 99% Invisible from 2015. I noted at the time the Nutshell Studies were moved to the Baltimore Medical Examiner after Lee’s death but they were not on display since they are still active teaching tools.

In a chance reading of the Washington Posts “13 Things to do in DC this weekend” post, I learned they were on display at the Renwick Gallery. They have been on display since October but I only learned about it this weekend. Bill as “This rare public display explores the unexpected intersection between craft and forensic science” I couldn’t possibly resist.

My wife and I visited the gallery today and it’s a good thing we got there early. We arrived about an hour after opening for today and there was already a line out the door. The exhibit was elbow-to-elbow people and many were trying to solve the mysteries at the expense of everyone else behind them.

The crowd of people trying to see the dollhouses.

The staff did a good job of keeping people moving and trying to get people through but it was a losing battle with so many people trying to see such small objects, they did their best. Even with all the people, I had a blast seeing these works in person.

The level of detail was exquisite. The tiny bodies were burned, hung, shot and dead from all manner of unexplained circumstances. Each study had the original statement taken from the event they depicted. There was enough story to set their scene we were looking at, but there were no solutions. Since they are still used as teaching tools, that makes sense.

View from above of a multiple rooms of a house with dead doll bodies.

Upside Down Fire

This winter has been brutally cold and I’ve made fires almost every night. I have built fires wrong for years. There is a better way to build a fire and have it burn longer and require less fussing. The upside down fire. Sid O’Neill enlightened me to the benefits of this fire-construction method and my life is greatly improved because of it.

Before learning about the upside down fire, I was putting the small kindling and paper on the bottom, then piling larger sticks and small logs on top of them. Then laying the largest wood on the top. Instead, I’ve built the fire upside down.

Start with the large logs on the bottom. Pack them in and make a layer of large wood without gaps between the logs. Then lay smaller on top of them. Finally, put the smaller sticks, kindling and some paper or fire starter on the very top. Then light the fire from the top instead of the bottom.

This allows the small bits to catch and burn first, then as they burn and the heat builds, the larger logs heat up and start to burn. The fire will burn for a long time without the need for any more work.

You must be patient because the fire will take longer to really get going. It can take 15-20 minutes before the embers get hot enough to ignite your larger logs but once they get going, sit back and enjoy the heat.

I won’t build a fire any other way. I like the setting it up, lighting it, then enjoying hours of heat. It’s been a much-appreciated addition to my winter as I go through less wood with each fire and the fire burns down to almost nothing if I let it go long enough.

The upside down fire is also excellent for camping and wood stoves. Tim Ferriss also wrote about building an upside down fire and its benefits.

Declarations

Silly ideas pop into my brain sometimes. I usually ignore them or at the very most Tweet them and move on with life.

This time is different.

Patrick Rhone wrote a post on Declarations for the new year. It included his declaration:

“There will be no anger, grumpiness, frustration, or other bad feelings today. This is not how any of us wish to start the new year. This is not how any of us wish for those we love to start the new year. We have a nice day ahead and a nice day is exactly how we wish to start the new year. Therefore, we will figure out how to get beyond whatever stands in the way of that.”

And finishes his post saying,

Should it be a success, I may begin tomorrow by announcing, “There will be no anger, grumpiness, frustration, or other bad feelings today. This is not how any of us wish to start the second day of new year…”

And I thought that was a neat idea.

So I decided to start recording a daily declaration. I immediately over thought it and started reaching for a microphone and recording it to an mp3, then where to host it. How to share it. Then I remembered, Anchor was a thing that existed in the world.

So I downloaded it and have started recording Daily Declarations.

Since I don’t understand how Anchor works, I don’t have copies of the first few days. But here is today’s recording. This has been a fun excuse to use Anchor and I may expand that out to other things. It’s a silly little project, but one I’m having fun with.

If anyone would like to record a declaration, let me know and we’ll keep this going into the New Year.