Tripped across this today. If at all you are interested in mathematics, patterns, social media – and ideally a cross between all three – this is for you…..
To quote :
It’s almost shocking how much this tells us about the evolution of people’s typical interests. People talk less about video games as they get older, and more about politics and the weather. Men typically talk more about sports and technology than women—and, somewhat surprisingly to me, they also talk more about movies, television and music. Women talk more about pets+animals, family+friends, relationships—and, at least after they reach child-bearing years, health. The peak time for anyone to talk about school+university is (not surprisingly) around age 20. People get less interested in talking about “special occasions” (mostly birthdays) through their teens, but gradually gain interest later. And people get progressively more interested in talking about career+money in their 20s. And so on. And so on.
Some of this is rather depressingly stereotypical. And most of it isn’t terribly surprising to anyone who’s known a reasonable diversity of people of different ages. But what to me is remarkable is how we can see everything laid out in such quantitative detail in the pictures above—kind of a signature of people’s thinking as they go through life.
Of course, the pictures above are all based on aggregate data, carefully anonymized. But if we start looking at individuals, we’ll see all sorts of other interesting things. And for example personally I’m very curious to analyze my own archive of nearly 25 years of email—and then perhaps predict things about myself by comparing to what happens in the general population.
Over the decades I’ve been steadily accumulating countless anecdotal “case studies” about the trajectories of people’s lives—from which I’ve certainly noticed lots of general patterns. But what’s amazed me about what we’ve done over the past few weeks is how much systematic information it’s been possible to get all at once. Quite what it all means, and what kind of general theories we can construct from it, I don’t yet know.
But it feels like we’re starting to be able to train a serious “computational telescope” on the “social universe”. And it’s letting us discover all sorts of phenomena. That have the potential to help us understand much more about society and about ourselves. And that, by the way, provide great examples of what can be achieved with data science, and with the technology I’ve been working on developing for so long.