How Wolfram|Alpha Can Help You Discover Your Own Social Network

Ever wonder what your own personal network looks like?  You are likely connected to many different groups (family, friends, community, work), but do you know how they are connected?  Or are they connected at all?  Are you the glue that connects these various groups?

Word Cloud

This is a great age we’re living in, and I’m glad to be involved with developing lots of really advanced technologies.  One of the technology areas that I’m really fascinated with has been pushed forward by Stephen Wolfram.  He created the industry standard computing environment Mathematica, which now serves as the engine behind his company’s newest creation, Wolfram|Alpha.  (I’ve written a few posts on Wolfram|Alpha in the past, and you can read them here and here).

One feature that they’ve recently added to Wolfram|Alpha is the ability to analyze your Facebook data.  Usually, if you use Facebook, you only focus on the posts your friends make – pictures from their great vacations, LOLcats, or sharing articles for other websites (like this one!)  However, here are three reasons why it might be worth it for you to unlock these insights from Facebook:

  • It gives you insight into your connections and their connections.   For example, I happen to have a number of groups that I’m connected with.  Some are work-related (Areté and Mentor Graphics), some are community-related (Thousand Oaks), some are from where I grew up (Brillion and Virden), and others are politically-related (Ross Perot).  With this view of what’s called your social graph, you can see a view of who you are, based on looking at who you’re connected with.
  • Social Network

  • You learn about yourself.  Getting your Facebook report through Wolfram|Alpha is kind of like looking in a different type of mirror.  You get to see yourself through your own data; it can help you improve in areas where you want to see improvement – I even wrote a post about why it can be good to collect data on yourself.
  • It’s fun.  Viewing yourself in different ways can be interesting and fun!  Sometimes it takes these different views to really understand who you are and how you got here.

If you’re interested in unlocking your Facebook data using Wolfram|Alpha, here are some simple steps:

  • Go to www.wolframalpha.com.  It looks very much like the Google search page with a single bar for entering text
  • Type in “facebook report” or you can click on the stylized Facebook icon.
  • Wolfram|Alpha will then ask you to click “Analyze My Facebook Data”
Once you’ve done this, Wolfram|Alpha will generate a long report, giving you many views on your data and yourself. If you’re interested, there is a post from the Wolfram|Alpha blog that explains these new features and another good article to read from NBCNews.com.
Mic Farris Facebook Report

New technology is allowing us to see more views of ourselves for self-improvement and for entertainment.  Take some time and use Wolfram|Alpha to learn a little more about yourself.

Question:  Have you ever used Wolfram|Alpha?  Are there any other tools you find interesting in looking at your own social network?  You can leave a comment below.

I currently serve as Director in the Advanced Risk & Compliance Analytics (ARCA) practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). I've served as Director of Data Science & Analytics Engineering at Areté Associates and in leadership positions with Elanix, Inc. (now Agilent Technologies) and Mentor Graphics. I've served the public as Chair of the Thousand Oaks, CA Planning Commission and now work in New York City. I have been married to my wife Stephanie since 1993, and we have a wonderful daughter Monroe. Learn more about me »

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.