The Boy Who Tried Wolf … ram

wolframalphafacebookYou may remember the introduction of Wolfram|Alpha, the world’s first computational knowledge engine. It’s very different from Google and other search avenues, primarily because it performs analysis on many data sources before returning an integrated, clearly presented answer to your natural language questions. As an example, search for “philadelphia weather” and you’ll be presented with current conditions, wind chill, historical data, and more.

For a deep dive into your personal social network, sign up for Wolfram|Alpha Personal Analytics, which uses the engine’s “expert level knowledge” to extract statistics about your network and present it to you in a clear, meaningful way.


You might make some interesting discoveries. For instance, it became shockingly clear to me that my primary interface into Facebook is my mobile device after being presented with the included graph that shows the distribution from 142 status updates. Mobile is the future, but it appears to be my present.

Other tidbits I discovered:

  • My most commented on photo was one that I took of the empty egg shelf at a grocery store just prior to a big blizzard.
  • 79.5% of my Facebook friends are married.
  • My average update is 82.58 characters.
  • The most frequent word I used in my updates was “time.”

Wolfram|Alpha makes it easy to share out some segments of its very long report in static pages it generates for you. As examples:

Note that there is at least a small barrier to entry. If you want to use the service, you have to sign up for a Wolfram|Alpha account, and you also need to authorize the application within Facebook. They also pitch their Pro service, for a monthly fee, that allows you to compute your own data, upload and download files, and more, but that’s not required to use Personal Analytics. There are many other widgets and apps for Facebook that do pieces of this, from clouds of your most popular words to visual maps of your networks and their connections, but Wolfram|Alpha Personal Analytics is a one-stop shop.

(Those of you on the Mac trying to generate a report via Safari may find, like the author, that you get a redirect error when you try to generate a report, but another browser, Firefox, works fine.)

About Adam Preset

Adam studies social media, leadership, and many other things in Penn's Organizational Dynamics program. He also works as researcher. He can be found on Twitter as @preset.
This entry was posted in Apps, Data, Facebook, Metrics, Research, User Generated Content and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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