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This chapter is from the book

Gross National Happiness

Economists measure countries’ gross national product, but Kramer also created an application based on Facebook data that tracks gross national happiness (see Figure 1.5).27 It analyzes all the words used each day for positivity and negativity and then compares them to measure people’s overall happiness for that day. He has plotted this data since October 2007. It’s not surprising that happiness and positivity spike on holidays, but it’s interesting that negativity also spikes then, though not nearly as much as positivity.

Figure 1.5

Figure 1.5. Gross national happiness.

For more, see how they’ve analyzed word categories and what their usage says about how many friends you have and what time of day you post on Facebook.28

By the way, Kramer works for Facebook. His job title is Data Scientist. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg studied psychology at Harvard, so I’d say these guys are digital psychologists. I doubt it’s a coincidence that Facebook has grown so rapidly or that people spend more time on it than any other website. In my opinion, this psychological savvy is Facebook’s biggest competitive advantage, and if no other social network ever catches up to it, that may be the reason.

There’s a saying, the source of which I can’t find, that goes something like this: “I hated high school and I loved college. I thought life would be like college, but turns out it’s more like high school.” Many of us have found that to be true. The popularity contests, cliques, politics, gossip, and exclusion that run rampant in high schools, and that some college cultures try to deactivate, also seem to run much of adult life and business. It seems to me that the Google folks are more like college academics, while Facebook—understanding the powerful forces of high school—built them right into its social network.

Google’s most essential technology, PageRank, is based on how academic papers reference each other. Facebook is based on what regular people like. Who do you think will win in the real world, the social world? I’ll be betting on Facebook.

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