Jan. 24, 2013 at 10:56 AM ET
As uncomfortable as it can be to admit, odds are that you occasionally really enjoy poring over information about ... yourself. It's OK, most of us secretly obsess over social media analytics and statistics — and tools like one offered by Wolfram Alpha don't exactly discourage those moments of narcissism.
Wolfram Alpha's Personal Analytics Tool for Facebook has been around for a while, but it received a significant update on Wednesday. "There’s much more to analyze, see, and do," John Burnham, a research and development fellow at Wolfram Alpha, explained on the answer engine's official blog.
To take a peek at your own analytics, you need to grant Wolfram Alpha access to your Facebook account and fork over your email address along with a couple of other details. Once you've done that, you'll have a few moments to twiddle your thumbs as Wolfram Alpha parses your Facebook. And then you'll be overloaded with so much information about things you never even wondered about before.
How are all your friends connected? Do certain individuals have a lot of friends in common with you ("social insiders")? Does someone have almost no friends in common with you (a "social outsider")? How would it look if all your friends were color-coded by relationship status, age, sex, and so on? Who comments on your posts the most? Are all your hometown friends married? Who is your most popular college friend?
Take a deep breath! There are far more questions to explore.
Who is your most distant friend, geographically speaking? Which of your friends lives nearest to the equator? When do you post photos most frequently? Which English words do you use the most in posts? Who is your oldest friend?
The stream of details provided by Wolfram Alpha's analytics tool is seemingly endless and, thanks to the way Wolfram Alpha structures data, you can click around and explore things from plenty of angles, zooming in on whichever specifics draw you in the most. If you like what you see, you can even give the answer engine permission to periodically collect information "to be able to show you an evolution of your Facebook profile over time."
Silliness aside, Wolfram Alpha's tool can be quite revealing. Using it, I discovered that I'm significantly more prone to posting links in the early afternoon and photos in the evenings (likely because I tend to share stories I've written while at work). I also learned that I have a habit of using the words "folks," "man," "now," "love," and "actually" far more than I realized.
Man, folks! I actually love how much I now know about myself thanks to this tool.
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