Chapter 9. Facebook: The All-in-One Wonder

From the standpoint of the social web, Facebook truly is an all-in-one wonder. Given that its more than 500 million users can update their public statuses to let their friends know what they’re doing/thinking/etc., exchange lengthier messages in a fashion similar to emailing back and forth, engage in real-time chat, organize and share their photos, “check in” to physical locales, and do about a dozen other things via the site, it’s not all that surprising that Facebook edged out Google as the most visited website as 2010 came to a close. Figure 9-1 shows a chart that juxtaposes Google and Facebook visiting figures just in case there’s any doubt in your mind. This is particularly exciting because where there are a lot of regular users, there’s lots of interesting data. In this chapter, we’ll take advantage of Facebook’s incredibly powerful APIs for mining this data to discover your most connected friends, cluster your friends based on common interests, and get a quick indicator of what the people in your social network are talking about.

We’ll start with a brief overview of common Facebook APIs, then quickly transition into writing some scripts that take advantage of these APIs so that we can analyze and visualize some of your social data. Virtually all of the techniques we’ve applied in previous chapters could be applied to your Facebook data, because the Facebook platform is so rich and diverse. As in most of the other chapters, we won’t ...

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