Visualization of the Week: Identify your insiders, outsiders, connectors and gateways

WolframAlpha's updated Facebook tool visualizes your network (and makes outliers obvious).

WolframAlpha announced an upgrade to its Personal Analytics for Facebook platform that allows users to visualize a number of aspects of their Facebook ecosystem. John Burnham outlines the updates on the WolframAlpha blog, noting that the popular visualization from the tool’s first release has a number of enhancements that allow users to better visualize how their social network fits together.

There are now five identified social network roles: social insiders and outsiders, social neighbors and gateways, and social connectors. Burnham explains on the blog:

“Social insiders and outsiders are opposites: a social insider has a lot of friends in common with you (e.g. your girlfriend since freshman year); conversely, a social outsider is someone with whom you have few or no mutual friends (e.g. that girl you met horseback riding in Romania). Social gateways and neighbors are also opposites: a social gateway contact has a lot of friends that are outside your network (e.g. the editor of your college newspaper), whereas a social neighbor has few friends outside your network (e.g. your identical twin).”

The upgrade also includes new filters and color codes for a variety of criteria such as relationship status, age, sex, and number of likes. Burnham notes this opens up a number of visualization possibilities, allowing users to pose such queries as: “Are all your married friends clustered in one part of your network? Are all your friends from your hometown the same age? Who is your most popular friend from university?”

The visualizations are interactive as well. “[A]t any point you can mouse over friend nodes to see who they are,” Burnham writes. “[C]licking will take you to their Facebook page.”

You can explore more of the upgrades on the WolframAlpha blog or directly access the platform to run your own free report.

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