Analysing Your (Facebook) Social Networks

Earlier this week, Wolfram Alpha released some findings from its analytics project on Facebook. While the results offer quite a bit to digest, the use of some data visualisation makes it a little bit easier. And a lot more interesting.

The results offer quite a bit of detail on interests, relationship statuses, geographic locations, and ages. Below is just one of the small multiple sets, this one looks at the number of friends of different ages for people of different ages. Basically, how many young or old people are friends of young people? Friends of old people?

Friends of Friends for the Ages
Friends of Friends for the Ages

But I was most interested in the analysis of social networks. The mosaic below is indicative of the sheer size of the survey, but also begins to hint at the variance in the social structures of the data donors.

Just Some of the Networks
Just Some of the Networks

While these views are all neat, where it begins to get really interesting is Wolfram Alpha’s work on classifying the different types of social networks. By aggregating and averaging out clusters, simple forms begin to emerge. And after those forms emerged, they were quantified and the results are a simple bar chart showing the distribution of the different types of networks.

Simplified Cluster Distribution
Simplified Cluster Distribution

Overall, some very interesting work. But one might naturally wonder how their own networks are structured. Or just be curious to look at the data visualisation of their own Facebook profile. Or maybe only some of us would. Fortunately, you still can link your account to a Wolfram Alpha account (you have to pay for advanced features, however) and get a report. Below is the result of my network, for those who know me semi-well I have labelled the different clusters to show just how the clustering works.

My Social Networks
My Social Networks

Credit for the piece goes to Wolfram Alpha.

Author: Brendan Barry

I am a graphic designer who focuses on information design. My day job? I am the data visualisation manager for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. (This blog is my something I do on my own time and does not represent the views of the Fed, blah blah blah legal stuff.) And with my main interest in information design—be it in the shape of clear charts, maps, diagrams, or wayfinding systems—I am fortunate that my day job focuses on data visualisation. Outside of work, I try to stay busy with personal design work. Away from the world of design, I enjoy cooking and reading and am interested in various subjects from history and geography to politics to science to the arts. And I allow all of them to influence my work.

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