Archive for January 30, 2013

Big Data with Facebook

Hello Spring 2013 MAT 120 students! My name is Chris Higgins, a senior IT – Web Design major, expecting to graduate this May! Just to give myself a brief introduction so you know a little bit about me… I enjoy all aspects of information technology, I work as a programmer for the College of Arts and Sciences, I’m the President of the IT security club ISUSec, I like just having fun with my roommates and friends, and also quite enjoy long walks on the beach. I hope that you enjoy reading our posts this semester, and feel free to leave comments! Now, onto the meat of this posting.

The key of information technology is the data that is being stored. Your social security number, grades, drivers license, Facebook profile; literally everything is data. Data is what drives the world of information technology. Systems analysis focuses on how data flows throughout the designed systems. Information quality and assurance makes sure that data is kept safe and is only accessible to the necessary entities. Web application development enables both you and the end user to interact with the data in your system, adding updating and deleting what necessary. Telecommunication is the travel of data throughout a network to various endpoints. Each field of information technology acts together in order to create a very effective system that allows data to be used and interacted with in efficient ways. What is really important when you have data, is how you treat it and allow users to interact with it.

Facebook recently announced a few feature that they are going to be rolling out within the next few weeks called Graph search. Graph search is different from your traditional search; it bases its results on a number of dimensions of users’ profiles and their interactions. You can dynamically search through users based upon what they post, what pages they ‘like’, what locations they ‘check-in’ to, and various values in their profile. For example, you can type “my friends who went to Illinois State University” and Graph will search for your friends who have ISU as their education and have graduated. You could also search for “female friends of friends who live in Normal, IL who like Dexter”, to find any girls that are friends with your friends that have their location in Normal and have ‘liked’ a Dexter page or made a posting about Dexter. This kind of search could be useful to, ahem, expand your social circle.

As most of us already know that Facebook collects a huge amount of data about us with our profiles, and through what we post, probably know more about us than we would feel comfortable with. These are the matrices that Facebook’s Graph search is going off of in order to return results based on the things we show interest in or the places we’ve been. Now, being able to search on all of these dimensions sounds like something that could be an abuse of information, but Facebook gives users various settings in order to secure their information and only display what the user makes public. I personally have my Facebook profile pretty secure, only my friends can see my activity or actions. If you and I are not friends on Facebook, all you could really see is my name, picture, and cover photo. I wouldn’t show up in one of my friends searches, unless I’m friends with this person. Even though Facebook HAS your information, it is put in YOUR hands to secure how much you want people to be able to search off of.

This is Facebook using data correctly in information technology. Its system analysts had to design the graph system, the telecommunication team had to network together the servers, the information security staff had to secure the system and set up correct guidelines, and the web designers had to program the feature and make sure that everything worked. Big data is a big thing in information technology, and Facebook introducing the Graph search brings this out and more relevant to the general public.

Hope you all enjoyed this first blog post of the semester, and if you are in MAT 120 don’t forget to take the quiz!

January 30, 2013 at 11:59 pm 1 comment


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