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On Being Popular

Jan 02 2011 Published by under info sharing

So what if “Facebook youth are an angry, foul-mouthed, selfish bunch,” or that “we Facebook users–at least the U.S. English speakers, anyway–start the day in a good mood, but as the day goes on and the coffee wears off we become increasingly demoralized?” These observations were among several in NetworkWorld’s article Facebook Offers Tips On Being Popular. Is this really something we want to know?

Well, yes we do want to know these things. There is much to learn and gain from an information-rich society. There is more to learn when the information is offered voluntarily, and tremendous untapped value when such information is within our ongoing control. So it is acting as a double-edged sword that Facebook wants to help show us a thing or two. From their recently published study, Facebook notes:

People use status updates to share what’s on their minds, to tell others what they’re doing, and to gather feedback from friends. The different ways people use status updates form some interesting patterns. In this study, we looked at the usage of words in different “word categories” in status updates. This led us to discover some patterns in how people use status updates differently, and how their friends interact with different status updates.

Facebook shared their findings in a recent post entitled “What’s on your mind?” The data was based on the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC), text analysis software that–as NetworkWorld pointed out#&150;uses word categories such as “past tense verbs, prepositions, religion and positive feelings.”

The part about a tremendous untapped value? What if this information could be used for new product and service discovery? Yes, caffeine drink makers might have a customized audience in the afternoons, but what if we could see a widget that would help with a common task, or a product that needs to be created? Or what if we could learn the source of our anger and demoralization? How would that change our society?

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