Let’s! Be! Friends!

Posted by michellej

One of the most frequently shared ThinkUp insights measures how many exclamation points you’ve used. We’ve talked about it as the “excitement insight” but perhaps we’ve been looking at it wrong. Language is a living thing. It changes and evolves,  its rules get updated. While exclamation marks have  traditionally signified excitement or enthusiasm research indicates that in text environments, the meaning of an exclamation point may be changing.

A peer reviewed study published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication found that exclamation points in online discussions were markers of excitability only 9.5% of the time. What were these exclamation points signifying if not excitement? Odds are good it was friendliness.

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According to the study “exclamations functioned as markers of friendly interaction 32% of the time.” When you can’t see facial expressions, it seems the exclamation point has become the punctuation equivalent of a smile.

Skeptical of the data? Let’s turn to a second source which is none other than “America’s Finest New Source,” The Onion: “In a diabolical omission of the utmost cruelty, stone-hearted ice witch Leslie Schiller sent her friend a callous thank-you email devoid of even a single exclamation point, sources confirmed Monday.”

That’s right, it is a diabolical omission to leave exclamation points out of your friendly communications. You don’t want to be diabolical. You should tweet something really happy and friendly! Right now!

 Image by Jose.Madrid

Location, Location, Location

Posted by michellej

Information about your physical location should be one of the most secure aspects of your online identity. Where you are and where you’ve been is sensitive information that should only be shared when you expressly want to make it public. Unfortunately that’s not always the case. Even for the most experienced users it’s easy to unintentionally share location data on our social networks.  A new Thinkup insight will make sure you always know when you’ve shared that data.

The Location insight will reveal how often you’ve shared your precise location on Twitter in the past week. Maybe you’ve shared exactly how often you meant to. Maybe you’ve been unknowingly sharing automatically. This insight will make sure you’re aware and happy with what you’re sharing about your location. It will link directly to your location settings on Twitter so if, upon reflection, you want to update what you’re sharing you’ll be just one click away from doing so.

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We spent a great deal of time and careful thought on how to execute this insight. Lists of dates and places or a map with your location data overlayed are obvious ways we could have chosen but frankly those have the potential to feel creepy.

Creepy violates ThinkUp’s basic tenet of “It’s nice to be nice.” So we didn’t compile a list or a map. Instead the insight just presents a count of your tweets that contain specific location data. We’ve chosen to walk a thin line of giving you enough information to make the insight meaningful without using your data in a way that could make you uncomfortable.

We hope you’ll let us know if we’re on the right path.

Is Your Facebook Profile So Fresh, So Clean?

Posted by michellej

Once upon a time your Facebook profile was fresh and new. Your bio, your URL, your Dexter obsession levels, your cover photo and your quote were all accurate and up to date. Your profile was a tidy corner of the web that represented you exactly the way you wanted.

Then time passed. You traveled extensively or moved across the country. Your favorite author became your least favorite after that last book. The oh so disappointing Dexter series finale happened. Did you update your Facebook profile after these major events? A new ThinkUp insight will help you recall.

The Facebook Profile insight will tell you when you last updated your profile and if its been a while it will (gently) encourage you to freshen it up. Odds are it’s time you update your profile to share your newfound love of British crime shows, update your cover photo with that awesome shot from your last vacation and officially break up with Dexter.

You’ve Got Friends in Exclusive Places

Posted by michellej

We don’t know how people with Verified Accounts got those little blue check marks, but we imagine the experience is a little like finding a golden ticket: the process seems random, the real value is unknown and far more people want it than will ever actually get it.

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ThinkUp’s newest insight reveals how many of your followers have  actually scored that elusive blue check mark. Just don’t tell William Shatner if you have a lot of verified followers. He’s a little touchy on the subject.

Nick Bilton captures the heart of what motivates us to build ThinkUp:

Now, it’s all social media all the time. At the end of the day, what do I have to show for it? Am I more enriched as a human being after a couple of hours spent on Facebook? More fulfilled from Pinterest? A deeper person from Instagram?

This is a critical question to ask, and frankly one that many of the people who create these social networks aren’t asking often enough. Of course, many will say “So how could the answer be even *more* technology?”

The answer is that the problem isn’t technological in nature: It’s social. It’s simply a matter of being thoughtful and mindful about the way we spend our time, and the way we interact with each other. These are themes that transcend technologies and fads.

It’s really gratifying to see this idea getting mainstream coverage, and we hope this becomes a fundamental part of the way people talk about new technologies and the industry that creates them. And of course, we hope you’ll give ThinkUp a try and see if it doesn’t help you feel better about all the time you’re spending on these networks.

My coworkers offered compliments and thanks for my contributions, and I felt a bit like a withered plant that just received a healthy watering. Literally minutes later, I was bouncing around the office like I hadn’t been in weeks.

High Fivery – The Pastry Box Project

A thoughtful post from Greg Hoy on how we can be significantly impacted by positive feedback, compliments and other forms of showing appreciation.

It truly is nice to be nice.

ThinkUp’s Summer of Code: Anna Shkerina

Posted by anil

This summer, ThinkUp is mentoring students in Google’s Summer of Code program for the third time. As they progress in their work of becoming contributors to ThinkUp, we’ve asked our two students this year to document their experiences.

I’m Anna Shkerina, a fifth year student of Chernigov National University of Technology. My major is system programming. I’m from Ukraine from the beautiful city of Chernihiv.

My main interest is programming. Programming is not just my profession — it is my hobby. I first tried to program in high school and still I can not stop. I also interested in dancing which I’ve devoted almost half my life - 10 years. Furthermore I love to embroider; I’ve made icons, towels, and napkins decorated with my embroidery.

When I decided to participate in Google Summer of Code I had only one requirement for the project on which I will work: I wanted a project that would be interesting.

When I read about ThinkUp for the first time I was very impressed by the idea of analyzing social network data from a lot of different resources. Every public person, politic or organization have two, three or even more accounts at the different social networks. So it is very difficult to cover and analyze all the information. But ThinkUp gives the opportunity to analyze and process statistical data simpler and clearer.

I loved the idea of ​​the project and I chose to write a proposal. From the idea list I most interested in the idea of creating new ThinkUp insights. And now I’m working on it.


What I’ve Learned

At the very beginning when I first started working with the project it was important to understand the structure of the project and implementation of the MVC model features in it.

Working on creating insights for the Facebook I got a huge experience working with the Graph API. I never used Smarty before working on the ThinkUp insights. For me it was very interesting and useful to understand how these features work. Now I would like to gain experience with Google Maps API. The next two insights that I plan to do are directly related to displaying data on a map.

And of course I hope to gain experience with Twitter REST API because two of these insights are related to analysis data from Twitter.

What I’d Like to Learn Next

I have experience programming in Java. I’m interested in different aspects of web development. For example tools like twitter bootstrap and angular.js. And the subject of my master’s work is related to grid technologies.