What Facebook Can Tell Us About Us

Stephen Wolfram wrote an interesting post back in 2013. I just stumbled upon it today (via Twitter).

I like this chart a lot:

The blue line is men, the red line is women.

A few of these results surprised me.

I would have thought women are more interested in books than men. At least that is how it is in our family.

I would have thought interest in travel would increase significantly in late middle age.

I would have thought interest in music would tail off more steeply with age.

Fascinating stuff.

#Random Posts

Comments (Archived):

  1. ErikSchwartz

    We traveled much more before we had kids. You can do it, but it gets much pricier.

    1. Will Johnston

      I actually travel much more since having kids. They are kind of a motivation for more travel for me.

  2. William Mougayar

    Related to Facebook, Ben Thompson’s recent “Facebook and the cost of monopoly” was a fascinating read. https://stratechery.com/201…It starts with, The shamelessness was breathtaking….

  3. Salt Shaker

    Although interesting, the data is filtered through a FB subscription prism and may not accurately reflect the public at large, or be statistically as reliable for older age respondents given FB’s demo skews. Admittedly though, it’s hard to Q too strongly FB data since they’re killing it.

  4. LE

    I would have thought interest in travel would increase significantly in late middle age.Later than that. In ‘late middle age’ I would think the following is more generally true:- Saving for retirement (not retired until mid to late 60’s)- Still paying for or recently finished paying for college- Still working or maybe even lost job and underemployedAs such not much money (or time) to travel. Something that will come later.

  5. Pointsandfigures

    Under which curves are the most volume? That’s why everyone starts conversation around them

  6. LE

    I would have thought women are more interested in books than men. At least that is how it is in our family.Easy enough to find something with authority that supports that. So here it is:http://www.pewinternet.org/…Women – Women are more likely than men to read books in general and also more likely to read print books. However, men and women are equally likely to read digital-format books such as e-books and audio books.I wonder to what extent Wolfram triangulated his finding with other available research?And what is the value of knowing what the people who are on Facebook who further installed the Wolfram|Alpha Personal Analytics for Facebook is anyway without that context? If we assume the other research on, as only one example, book reading is correct then how much attention can we give to the other ‘garbage in’ that is presented here?Then there is this:After a rapid rise, the number of friends peaks for people in their late teenage years, and then declines thereafter. Why is this? I suspect it’s partly a reflection of people’s intrinsic behavior, and partly a reflection of the fact that Facebook hasn’t yet been around very long. Assuming people don’t drop friends much once they’ve added them one might expect that the number of friends would simply grow with age.Why ‘assume’ that? All you would have to do is ask around prior to writing or presenting data.Anyone who has kids knows that many add everyone and the kitchen sink as a friend. I was amazed (and initially naively impressed) years ago when my daughters had several thousand each. Obviously these aren’t ‘friends’ any more than linkedin contact are people that you actually know (started out that way but now it’s a free for all). Kids just add other kids. Later they pare that down and more friends ‘die’ than are ‘born’ into a true relationship. Plus they might not want people they knew in another context stalking them in later years so they are cut…

  7. Daniel Olshansky

    I think it’s fair to say that that if such data existed for the age gap of 0 – 3, there would be almost no difference between men and women. Similarly, both lines converge with age as well; aside from politics. It goes to show that everyone’s values are similar in the early and later stages of life, which makes me beg to ponder how much of an effect hormones have on our interests.

  8. Arnold Waldstein

    What fascinates is that this info has changed with the advent of Facebook itself where through connections we are encouraged to stick with or develope things we might not have previously.Common datapoint within communities.

  9. Kirsten Lambertsen

    One of the first things I learned in working in this industry is, you don’t know what people are going to do until they do it.

    1. Mark Essel

      ha, the weather curve stood out to me. When you’re young weather is just background. As you age it shifts into the foreground of your life

  10. jason wright

    i would like to see the blue line is rich, the red line is poor data aggregation set.

  11. sigmaalgebra

    The graphs would be MUCH better with (1) clear labels for the axes and (2) good descriptions of how the data was collected.But, I know; I know; our *mainstream media* (MSM) has us all assume that a graph is just an artistic decoration toindicate if something is going “up and to the right” or isn’t with nothing else of interest, that is, a graph is just for a simple, fast, emotional kick with actual information not welcome! Degenerate, disgusting, dangerous, yet again evidence that the media is as Jefferson wrote as inhttp://press-pubs.uchicago….So, I guess that the horizontal axis is age in years.The vertical axis is, for the indicated subject, supposed to be some level of interest or the fraction of the population interested at some level? For this axis would want to be clear, and for the subject would want to be clear on how the data was collected.Sure, a priori, or from E. Fromm we can believe that people are interested in security and, thus, not being alone and, thus, family and friends, and, thus, spouse, religion, and membership in groups. Thus, they are also interested in knowledge, information, careers, money, and the weather! Weather? Yup: If a blizzard is on the way, then might want to check the supply of gasoline for the emergency electric generator and rush out and get another 18 gallons while still can.Uh, yup, people have interests, say, big interests that last for years or little interests that last for a day or a few hours. E.g., an interest might be what movies to show to some visiting grand children, to all the children while all the adults have a party, to the spouse on a calm Saturday evening, to a boy/girlfriend with a bowl of popcorn on a Friday night, etc.? Sorry, guys, Web browsing history won’t predict that worth a darn — or do related ad targeting worth a darn. Sorry, Netflix, what you have is better than nothing but, still, not very good.Other interests? Sure: Get angry enough with the constant flow of Democrat party propaganda and made up, cooked up, gang up, pile on fake news from the MSM, NYT, WaPo, LAT, AP, Reuters, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, and have an interest in better on-line news sources.So, do a keyword/phrase search with, say,”better news” objective honest rational online -MSMNope, won’t work very well. Need something better.Yup.How about, Susan is giving a romantic, candle lit dinner for Bob and wants some music in the background. Susan wants both Bob and herself to like the music. How to find such? Well, maybehttps://www.youtube.com/wat…can be considered uniquely good music but not for that dinner! For,http://www.youtube.com/watc…gorgeous stuff, but would likely interrupt the dinner and the dinner table conversation and, besides, Susan might not want Bob to see the on-screen competition from the ballet dancers! Susan needs help!At the dinner, Bob tells Susan that at work he needs a good start on Sar-Box, a good reading list, lectures, etc. appropriate for his level of knowledge, his company, and his subordinates. So, he wants content with the appropriate *meaning*. Tough to characterize meaning in a few keywords.So, given an interest, how the heck to find content for that interest? In total, lots of content out there. How the heck to find the content, for each interest of each person, say, each interest treated as unique?Ah, would be a good step forward just tohave axis labels on graphs!

  12. Will Johnston

    What exactly is ‘Transport’ and why is it so popular. I assume this means cars?

  13. cavepainting

    while interesting in aggregate, I imagine there is a fair amount of variability by demographics, geography, race, education, and income levels. Hard to predict for a specific individual as everyone is somewhat different and our circles are very small to reflect the statistical mean.But.. fascinating stuff indeed.

  14. Marcelo Calbucci

    As much as this data reveal some interesting information, it’s not actually longitudinal data spanning 5 decades of research. It’s just one snapshot in time. I’m pretty sure, there is a seasonality aspect to interests and we should not be making much product or business decisions based on it. Politics, travel, technology, movies and other categories have macro cycles that would affect this.

  15. Mark Watkins

    BTW, this data doesn’t say men are more interested than women in books. It says men POST more often about books. The data is derived from analyzing posts. It describes posting behavior, not reading behavior….subtle difference.

  16. Swatick Majumdar

    Few charts maybe tracked differently now. Television viewership should rise at later age and not be the same as when you are 20 or should be much lower at 20 than what the chart shows. Curious why weather rises the way it does. I understand the relationship with advancing age and weather but what other factors may have contributed to it. Curious to see social media chart for both Men and Women so close. What does that tell us? Curious to know if Family + Friends are broken up, how would it map out. Career+Money very close, would love to see it play out with the relationship chart. Also would be interesting to see Career+Money with School +University. I’m sure FB has many other touch points now which if mapped out today would be very revealing plus deviate from the 2013 quite a bit.

  17. BSchildt

    I would think and hope that men and women are both interested in things after age 55. I’m going to drop off the chart in three years!