25 January 2013 | Team Tamar

Analyse, see and do more with Wolfram|Alpha’s Personal Analytics for Facebook

Computational knowledge engine, Wolfram|Alpha has access to a plethora of real-world data and can now combine that data with your Facebook profile to tell you interesting things you might not otherwise know – thanks to the latest upgrade of ‘Personal Analytics for Facebook’ report generator. ­A user’s Facebook history is a goldmine of rich data and Wolfram|Alpha is using its powers of analysis to allow anyone to do personal analytics.

One of the most popular features from the first release of the ‘Personal Analytics for Facebook’ app last August was the colourful social network visualisation of networks, friends and social activities. The new and improved version incorporates a new visualisation which highlights friends based on the way they fit into your network and can help you answer fascinating questions such as:

Who is your most popular friend from college?
What was your most liked status update?
Are all your married friends clustered in one part of your network?
What are the most common words on your wall?
Are all your friends from your hometown the same age?

Personal Analytics for Facebook seeks to identify 5 different “network roles” – social insiders and outsiders, social neighbours and gateways, and social connectors:

  • A Social insider shares a lot of mutual friends with you (e.g. your girlfriend who you’ve been with since your first year at university)
  • Social outsiders are those with whom you have very few or no mutual friends with (e.g. the new guy who’s just started working at the company) – the opposite of a social insider.
  • Social gateways have lots of friends outside of your network (e.g.the editor of your college newspaper)
  • Your Social neighbour is someone who has only a handful of friends outside of your network (e.g. your identical twin)
  • In some cases, social insiders and neighbours may overlap as with social gateways and outsiders.

With the ability to filter your Facebook networks according to certain criteria e.g. age and location, this report generator gives you convenient access to an impressive variety of interactive colour-coded/geographical visualisations, which will help you identify any relationship trends and patterns. What’s great is that you can explore which friend represents each of the nodes on the visualisations. These reports will also show you your most “geographically interesting” friends, such as who is closest to you or is farthest away from Mount Everest.

Another improvement to note is that Wolfram|Alpha have expanded the ‘week app activity pod’, which gives you insight into the times you’re most likely to check out your favourite Facebook apps, as well as offer you your very own word cloud showing the most mentioned English words in your wall posts.

If you’re keen to go back in time, they have also developed another new aspect called ‘Personal Analytics for Facebook: Facebook Historical Analytics’ – just click the banner at the top of your report! This exciting feature periodically collects information to give you insight into how your Facebook profile has evolved since you joined. You will be able to see which of your friends has got married/moved to a new city etc.

We think that Wolfram|Alpha are definitely onto something and that ‘Personal Analytics for Facebook’ has great potential! How will it fare against ‘Facebook’s Graph Search’? We wouldn’t be surprised if Facebook roll out something similar in the next year or so!

Team Tamar