Wolfram Alpha and Facebook Personal Analytics

Wolfram|Alpha, the world’s first and only computational knowledge engine, uses its expert-level knowledge and algorithms to answer questions, generate reports, and do analysis across thousands of domains.

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There’s also an offer for K-12 educators and students to try out a WolframAlpha Pro account.  With Wolfram|Alpha Pro, you can compute with your own data. Just input numeric or tabular data right in your browser, and Pro will automatically analyze it—effortlessly handling not just pure numbers, but also dates, places, strings, and more.

But wait – now there’s Facebook!

According to TechCrunch

a new feature today that allows you to quickly get an overview of all your data on Facebook. The new report, says Wolfram CEO Stephen Wolfram, expands Wolfram Alpha’s “powers of analysis to give you all sorts of personal analytics.” The company plans to expand these reports with new features over time, but they already give you a pretty deep look at your Facebook habits.

LifeHacker explains

all you need to do is head to Wolfram Alpha’s home page and type in “Facebook Report”. After connecting it to your Facebook and granting it a rather large number of permissions, Wolfram Alpha will break down everything about your Facebook activity into 60 different sections of charts, graphs, and other analyses—like a cluster map of your friends and relationships, everywhere you’ve checked in, what days you’re most active on the site, a cloud of your most-used words, and even the weather from the day you were born. It’s incredibly interesting, super geeky, and downright scary.

Scary indeed – but not so much. This is not new – it’s just a development.

ThinkUp has allowed analysis of any Facebook account. ThinkUp is a free, open source web application that captures all your activity on social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Google+. One of the best ways to learn about ThinkUp is to see it in action.

Your Facebook Report

Your Wolfram|Alpha report will include the more obvious things such as:

  • Which Facebook apps do you use the most?
  • Who comments the most on your posts?

What you first see is only the tip of the iceberg. Change parameters, expands results, and click the More buttons to drill down into deeper layers of computation and analysis.You can even click the name of a friend to run the full page analysis on that friend’s shared Facebook data.

OK. Thanks to the report I now know that Seymour Papert is my oldest ‘friend’, and that many more of my friends lie about their age! Jeff A is 79 and he mostly uploads pictures to his Facebook Account.

Not surprisingly the report also confirms what I knew to be my personal preferences for Facebook  – I use Facebook mainly for sharing!

If all this has convinced you never to touch Facebook – think again!

Whether you like it or not Helmond and Gerlitz (2012) suggest that  the Facebook Like economy is here as part of the reworked fabric of the web  – and the only way to avoid it is never to go online, and never to visit a page with a Facebook link.  That means no more reading the news online, shopping, or browsing websites.Even before we join Facebook, visits to any site with a Facebook icon are being tracked because of the The Open Graph Protocol  introduced in 2009 into Facebook’s infrastructure to code and govern social activities and relations outside the Facebook membership platform.

Meanwhile, through the act of liking Facebook users are validating and linking content on the web, an act previously exclusive to webmasters and establishing what may be considered an emerging Like economy.

To be honest, I am not concerned about this dataflow. It’s here to stay. Refusing to participate is the equivalent of refusing to drive a car to get somewhere -  because it’s mechanical and doesn’t have four legs!

The pervasive nature of the web simply reminds me of the importantance of considering what I do, share and discuss online.  It reminds me that as educators we need (more than ever) to understand this reworked fabric of the 90s web, and understand how best to capitalize on it, learn with it, share with it, and make it possible for our students (young and old) be high calibre participants in their online world.

Tsunami – in the classroom?

I wonder how many classrooms in Australia will spend time this week talking about, reviewing and learning about the impact of earthquakes and tsunami  on countries and people?

This weekend saw the earthquake in Chile and the tsunami it created affecting many parts of the world.  The Chilean president declared a state of catastrophe after a deadly quake of magnitude 8.8. Subsequently warnings of tidal waves were issued in 53 other countries.

In the Guardian’s Report Chile Earthquake: Pacific nations brace for Tsunami we have a good lead article to set the scene for discussion.

The Tsunami raced across the Pacific and threatened Hawaii as it rushed toward the U.S. West Coast and hundreds of islands from the bottom of the planet to the top. Sirens blared in Hawaii to alert residents to the potential waves. As the waves expected arrival drew near, roads into tourist-heavy Waikiki were closed off.  Police patrolled main roads, telling tourists to get off the streets.

It’s not new – social media has a well established co-reporting global events!

But do your teachers know this?  Do they know powerful social media is in providing information and synchronous coverage of event?

Did they pick up the links they need via Twitter? of Facebook? or other social networking site?

Perhaps they already have the Associated News App on their iPhone (find it in the App store)  and were aware of events that way? or via another mobile App?  or heard it on the news?

Did they send out a message (text? IM?) to their geography students to alert them to the CBS News Stream via Ustream so they could experience live some of these events – even if only for a few minutes?

Not only were the media doing live reports online, as well as on TV, but people in the streets were contributing picture and live phone feeds and images to contribute to the pooling of information.

Twitter was buzzing.

Don’t forget to check out Diigo and Delicious during the week to find more links from other  ‘connected’ teachers.  

From a student’s point of view – social media tools allow them to experience these  incidents live and hear the authentic experiences of people observing the event.

By Monday there will be plenty of online media sites that will have stories, videos, etc to use for class review. But none of that is as good as experiencing a live report! How many teachers will be ready to immerse their students in learning with the very tools that students love to use?

Here’s someone ready to incorporate this type of learning into their uni classes - Magnitude vs Intensity in Chile. Learning can be amazing.

Larry Ferlazzo provides The Best Sites to Learn about the Earthquake in Chile (& possible Tsunami).

Go on teachers – give it a try!!  Here’s a great map of Estimated Tsunami arrival times to get you talking.

The picture below shows the live CBS News UStream.

Danah Boyd and thoughts on Myspace …. and more

A snippet from Danah Boyd’s talk here in Brisbane, Australia …….from Mike Seyfang – via Twitter of course :-).

Danah spoke at the education.au seminar today about the rise of social networks and the profiles that students develop and make public on their myspace site. For more information and access to the public podcast later this week read Garry’s Who are your Online Friends?

Facebooking Heyjude

The API rollout continues – Facebook now has a WordPress application feature. So I am adding it to my Facebook account, and writing this post from Facebook, just to see how it works.

I guess it is pretty basic right now – just text – and I can’t see my categories to choose the right tags (this is important for people who are not just doing random ‘thought generated’ blogging). Will putting in a new tag create a new category? Don’t know, so I will put in ‘Facebook’ and see what happens. But really, no complaints -small steps lead to big changes!