From the Dataspora Blog, ostensibly on the use and abuse of R, comes this gem about Facebook:
Itamar Rosenn, Facebook
Itamar conveyed how Facebook’s Data Team used R in 2007 to answer two questions about new users: (i) which data points predict whether a user will stay? and (ii) if they stay, which data points predict how active they’ll be after three months?
For the first question, Itamar’s team used recursive partitioning (via the rpart package) to infer that just two data points are significantly predictive of whether a user remains on Facebook: (i) having more than one session as a new user, and (ii) entering basic profile information.
For the second question, they fit the data to a logistic model using a least angle regression approach (via the lars package), and found that activity at three months was predicted by variables related to three classes of behavior: (i) how often a user was reached out to by others, (ii) frequency of third party application use, and (iii) what Itamar termed “receptiveness” — related to how forthcoming a user was on the site.
Now at least you know why Facebook is obsessed with the ‘You haven’t spoken to X in a while. Drop them a line!’
I am mostly R-illiterate, and like LaTex, Emacs, and all other things Kieran, I suspect that having passed graduate school without these tools, I’ve missed my window for ever really incorporating them into my habitus…As Edward Lewis once said, People’s reaction to R is very dramatic. They love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they will learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.