Wolfram Alpha is a search engine unlike any other. It’s called a computational search engine which, at the end of the day, means that you’re not searching for weblinks to other sites but rather getting a data analysis from information about those sites. It’s best used for searching on things that can be measured: cancer victims in the US., how often do we have blue moons, temperature change over time.
Now Wolfram Alpha is applying those smarts to your Facebook life. Believe me, it’ll provide insights into your behavior that no shrink could gather. Stephen Wolfram, creator of Wolfram Alpha, has been at the forefront of computational analytics forever.
How to analyze yourself
It’s pretty simple. In Wolfram’s blog announcing the new service, he says:
“It’s pretty straightforward to get your personal analytics report: all you have to do is type “facebook report” into the standard Wolfram|Alpha http://www.wolframalpha.com/website. If you’re doing this for the first time, you’ll be prompted to authenticate the Wolfram Connection app in Facebook, and then sign in to Wolfram|Alpha (yes, it’s free). And as soon as you’ve done that, Wolfram|Alpha will immediately get to work generating a personal analytics report from the data it can get about you through Facebook.”
What I learned about myself…
A bit haltingly, I relinquished my personal data on Facebook to Wolfram to see the results:
- Since Jan 1, 2011 I’ve posted over 1,000 times. The majority of those are status updates. Photos seem to dovetail with vacations and sadly I’ve only posted one video (note to self: get on the ball with videos).
- I have three time batches of “TMF (Too Much Facebook) Facebook activity almost daily: early morning, coffee break at three and late evenings (next note to self: quit being a creature of habit).
- I have 41 photo albums but only .1% of my photos are tagged. (note to self: fear of tagging? )
- Not surprisingly my biggest fan club sharing my posts and commenting on them are members of my family (yes, cousin Bernice, that would be you).
- Surprisingly I spend a fair amount of back and forth with friends I consider close but not that close and haven’t seen many for years (but they are clever).
- By a slight margin my friends are men, and by a huge margin they’re married (married men?).
- And on and on…I went through a quick love affair with Words With Friends, and an onging and dangerous love affair with Groupon. My oldest friends are pushing 90 and my youngest claim to be 15. I’m happy to report that my friends do live all over the world, but that that their political and belief systems are more like my own than different (note to self: Listen to the other side).
If you upgrade to the pro service, you get even more information and can view it interactively. The service is $4.99 a month.
For individuals this sort of Facebook tell-all is instructive to help curb addictive behaviors, get a life, sort friends from coworkers, and figure out who you waste time with most. For companies this is a great way to watch user engagement.
But just remember: Facebook is addiction enough. Don’t get addicted to checking your analytics, too.