Personal Informatics Blog

Finding Personal Insights from Social Websites

I wrote and posted this article originally on the HealthTap blog on October 11, 2010.

Many people use social web sites, such as Twitter, Foursquare, Delicious, and Last.fm. People use these sites to connect with their friends, broadcast their interests, and share information. These web sites make it easy to collect information about oneself and automatically share it with other people. Every day thousands of personal data are collected and shared throught these web sites. But did you know that you can take your data from these web sites and visualize them for introspection. In this article I will describe four visualization tools that take data from popular social web sites to help people learn more about themselves.

TwitterAnalyzer and TweetPsych for Twitter

Twitter is a popular micro-blogging site where you can post status updates about various events and interests. Various web sites exist to help you analyze your tweets. TwitterAnalyzer is an easy-to-use web site where you can see graphs about our tweeting behavior. Just enter your Twitter name in the home page and the site generates graphs about your tweet frequency, conversations, popularity, reach, subjects, hashtag usage, and links. TweetPsych is another easy-to-use web site similar to TwitterAnalyzer, but it generates a different set of graphs. TweetPsych analyzes the psychological profile of your tweets compared to other people’s tweets. It generates a graph according several dimensions, such as self-references, sociality, time usage, anxiety, positivity, conceptuality, etc.

TwitterAnalyzer

TweetPsych

WhereDoYouGo for FourSquare

FourSquare is a web site where you can track the places that you go. WhereDoYouGo is a web site created by Steven Lehrburger that visualizes your FourSquare checkins using heat maps. Heat maps are visualizations that use color to indicate frequency of visits to a particular location. Using WhereDoYouGo, you can easily find which places you frequent most often on a map. The authentication process is more complicated than the other tools featured in this article (WhereDoYouGo requires authentications with both Google and FourSquare), but the results are worth it!

WhereDoYouGo

LastHistory for Last.fm

Last.fm is a web site that makes it easy for you to track the music that you listen to. LastHistory is a desktop application (only for Mac OS X) that visualizes your music listening histories from Last.fm. The application creates an interactive visualization to help you explore your past music listening patterns combined with your own photos and calendar entries. The tool has two modes: Analysis and Personal. In Analysis mode, you can look at your history in three dimensions: time, tracks, and genres. You can search, highlight, zoom, and get detailed information about your history. In Personal mode, you can explore your data along with your iPhoto library and calendar entries from iCal. This mode can help you reminisce about your past in more detail.

LastHistory

DeliciousDiscovery for Delicious

Delicious is a social bookmarking site. DeliciousDiscovery is a web site that takes your Delicious bookmarks collection and visualizes it by tags and month. With this tool, you can see how your interests are reflected by the web sites that you bookmark and how they change from month to month. To use, just enter your Delicious username and you will get your visualization!

DeliciousDiscovery

Featured image modified from an image by David Reece.

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