Facebook and My Social Clusters


Stephen Wolfram recently published an analysis of a huge dataset of how people are using Facebook that is extremely fascinating (so fascinating that I wanted to except some of the best parts but didn’t know where to start!)

One of the findings was that the most common social structure people tend to have two or three major “clusters” of friends.

The most common structures consist of either two or three major clusters, all of them connected. But there are also structures in which major clusters are completely disconnected—presumably reflecting facets of a person’s life that for reasons of geography or content are also completely disconnected.

I’ve tried to analyse my own Facebook “clusters” long ago and found I had 14 identifiable “groups” of friends.

But if I’d followed Wolfram’s methodology back then, maybe I’d have combined some similar “groups” into “clusters” (FIMS/Librarians) and also eliminate others that didn’t have huge numbers (Fredheads/Southeast Regional Library).

Having recently read the Wolfram article, this theory of social clusters was in the front of my mind when we held a 40th Birthday Party for myself at a local arcade today.

Of the nearly 50 people who attended, they very broadly broke down as follows:

1) Family

2) People I know from high school

3) People I know from libraries

4) People I know from politics

5) Pace’s friends and their parents (or the reverse – kids who came with their parents who belong to one of the other groups)

My point? Nothing really – just interesting idea to consider in the real world rather than just looking at Facebook friends in the abstract.

Anyhow, my real point is not about who came to my birthday or which sub-group I see them belonging to. The important thing is this: if you have any interest in social media at all, you should go read that Wolfram article – it’s good stuff. (h/t to CP for the link…on Facebook of course!)

Comments 2

  1. John Betmanis wrote:

    Jason, you missed one. I know you through our common taste in music; namely Fred Eaglesmith. No doubt you have other Fredhead friends.

    Posted 21 Jul 2013 at 8:52 pm
  2. HeadTale wrote:

    Sorry, John, I wasn’t very clear in my post. The groups I listed above were my attempt to broadly categorize the people who came to my birthday today.

    On the other hand, when I listed my groups in 2009, I did include Fredheads but (at the time anyhow), I didn’t know that many of them so I think I only had something like 9 Facebook friends I knew via Fred and his music.

    Happily, I can report that number has continued to grow over time! 😉


    Posted 21 Jul 2013 at 9:03 pm

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