Wolfram Alpha Analyzes Facebook

Wolfram Alpha is different than most other search engines because it is known as an answer engine — by computing answers from the inputted data, rather than providing lists of links to outside websites. Recently, the answer engine debuted a new feature that allows one to search and analyze their Facebook profile. To access this tool you will need to visit Wolfram Alpha, and type “facebook report” in the search box. You will then need to add the app to your Facebook account.

The “Facebook report” then returns an analysis of your profile — from the number of things you’ve “liked”, the top commenters on your wall, and the most frequent words you’ve used in status updates.

I was a little surprised to see how often I used certain words, like ‘now’ and ‘summer’.

This type of information is very similar to the analytics provided to users that run a Facebook page. Similarly, you can find out demographic information about your friends, such as relationship status:

In each category there is often a “more” button that breaks down the information ever further. In the basic personal information section, the “more” button revealed the weather at my birth, the moon phase, my zodiac sign and even a sky chart!

All of this information was surprising to me because I like to think I’m careful about oversharing on social networks. From this tool alone, a company could figure out my age, demographic background, job and extracurricular activities, and some key interests. You can also search the pages of your friends, but with a more limited analysis. I was still shocked at the amount of information revealed from just their Facebook profiles.

A company or any other organization looking to understand their customers will benefit from a feature like this because only a few clicks reveal a complete breakdown of a single identity. Like I mentioned previously, Facebook already provides analytic tools for Page owners, but using this tool on a Page could help the owner understand which status updates were most successful, which users utilized the page most, and a more detailed understanding of the user demographics of those who “like” the page.

Ask a Librarian to their Face(book)

Ask a Librarian, the Wells Library’s online reference service, has long graced the banner of every IU Libraries page. Last December, a widget for the chat service was integrated into EBSCO databases, allowing patrons to get help right when they need it. This proved a success, with traffic from the integrated widget accounting for 150 chats to-date; that’s approximately 5% of all library chats.

 In a continuing effort to reach patrons in their frequented online spaces, the latest incarnation of Ask a Librarian can be found on the Wells Library Facebook page (click on Ask a Librarian) and the Business/SPEA IC Facebook page (click on Research Help). It is “live” and available now! So be on the lookout for that handy chat box. Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook, and for other ways to follow your favorite libraries and collections check out the IU Libraries’ Follow, Tweet, Listen, Learn page.

Savvy business for “dumb” phones?

The Social Network (also known as “The Facebook movie”) batted a little under .500 Sunday night at the Academy Awards, ultimately racking up three wins – for editing, best original score, and best adapted screenplay – from its eight total nominations, including a potential Best Actor nod to Jesse Eisenberg for his role as CEO Mark Zuckerberg (I find Justin Timberlake a bit more compelling myself).

Oscar, Schm-Oscar, Zuckerberg himself might say: 600 million users strong, Facebook rolls on, a juggernaut seemingly immune to the frequent kerfuffles raised by users over privacy of user data, interface changes, and how to finally, once and for all, suppress all those Farmville notifications from so-and-so.

With that many users, it’s no surprise that there’s plenty to say about Facebook. Some might be most interested to consider the possible ramifications of the company’s move last month to raise millions of dollars, from Goldman Sachs and an unnamed Russian investor, in what appears to be the prep for going public. Others might find the story of a Spanish nun expelled from her convent for – that’s right – “spending too much time on Facebook” compelling.

Unsurprisingly, I was most attracted to this story: no longer content to provide apps just for smartphones,  Facebook is moving into the “feature phone” market.  What’s a “feature phone”? Flip phones, candy-bar phones, or others … slightly lower-end than often pricey smartphones, feature phones can run some applications, but aren’t built around an operating system like Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, or Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7. While the pundits are lining up to say that 2011 will stand as the tipping point for smartphone adoption in the United States (see our own Bret’s post on the topic, plus the Horizon Report 2011 [PDF]), there are still millions and millions of feature phones in use in this country, and millions more around the world.

Now all those folks can download the Facebook feature phone app, and get 90 days of free data. Maybe not long enough to get them tossed out of a convent, but probably plenty of time to get hooked for Facebook Mobile to become part of their day-to-day. Will other corporations and providers move into the feature phone market? As tablet sales take off, will consumers opt to spend there and save on phones? At least one person has recently noted his interest in pairing his tablet with a feature phone (through which he could create a Wi-Fi hotspot). What happens when two disruptive technologies collide? I don’t know, but if I figure it out, I’ll be sure to post it in my Facebook status.