1. A snapshot of modern human life

    Posted April 26, 2013 in visualisation  |  No Comments so far

    I enjoyed reading Stephen Wolfram summarising his team’s analysis of Facebook data. The infographics aren’t just neat and easy on the eye, they offer up their insights without fuss or clutter. The writing is pitched well, informative without being intimidating or patronising. And among the graphs and the science you can detect something organic, something messy, something that can be faintly painful if you think about it too much.

    Relationship status by age, taken from Wolfram's analysis of Facebook data

    Relationship status by age, taken from Wolfram’s analysis of Facebook data

    For me, it comes out most strongly when I look at the greyish sliver that opens up towards the top-right of the above graph, which represents the proportion of people whose relationship status is “widowed”.

    This isn’t the most interesting or surprising piece of information on the page, nor is it the most novel or engaging graphic, but it’s the one that most brought home to me that beneath this sea of data, and beneath the sterile light-blue facade of Facebook, there’s something else going on: real, human, life.