Friday, April 26, 2013

Friending Data

Wolphram|Alpha describes its search engine as "a fundamentally new way to get knowledge and answers — not by searching the web, but by doing dynamic computations based on a vast collection of built-in data, algorithms, and methods."  In an article entitled "Data Science of the Facebook World," founder and CEO Stephen Wolfram has analyzed a number of fascinating patterns in data Wolfram|Alpha collects about Facebook users and usage.  Insights include the time when one's number of friends peaks (around age 18) and a fascinating bimodal distribution of friends for Facebook users 46 years of age and older (one peak centered on a user's own age, and a second peak for friends about 25 years younger).  Facebook is the largest experiment in network science ever conducted.  It mixes big data with big fun.  Data privacy issues aside, watching patterns in Facebook data evolve over time warrants a big "Like."