Amazon thinks I like electronics, Hello Kitty and bows.
Manual or algorithmic identification of family members is one option, but I think there's something more to be gained here by understanding the behavior just a bit more abstractly... Shopping moods? Modes? Targets? Tasks? Something, possibly – but I'm only guessing here. The real power could come from actually working with/doing user research and prototyping.
I'd love the chance to work on such a project, actually – I had a chance to work with data from a study on the online shopping habits of mothers a few years ago and there's lots of interesting angles to possibly explore, IMHO.
That said, you can manage that at http://www.amazon.com/gp/history
1) All of the people I have legitimated as Friends.
2) Screeds and screeds of data about the quality of all my connections with those friends (have I hid them from my news-feed? how much do I interact with their posts? how much do I interact with them? talk to them? share with them? stalk them? how much time do I spend in interactions with them? how do the patterns of my interactions change with them (mouse-click patterns, scroll patterns, typing patterns)? do I use different words (different emotions/more formal/informal language/different function word patterns?)
3) People I've stalked but haven't friended
4) Brands, companies, causes, ideas, things from history, all sorts of random shit I've liked (along with similar data to 2))
5) What sorts of things I click on, how I leave the site and where I go.
And certainly more.
Etc., etc., etc. Facebook didn't manifest my entire social life. They just built a platform which allowed me to socialise orders of magnitude more efficiently than before, a platform of great benefit to me, and one into which I've poured vast quantities of data (and the amount, quality and variety of the data is only set to increase as we open up more input modalities - eg eye-tracking, gesture-tracking, and biometrics). the data is all there. All facebook is doing is cobbling together some of the most very basic tools one might use to make sense of a subset of that data.
Anyway, what's your point? By the way, you're discussing this with someone who believes that in the future we will record and utilise orders of magnitude more amount of data about our lives and our planet than we do now, enough to make your eyes water, and furthermore, that we are inexorably fated to do so, and furthermore, that it's a really, really good trend, one which is going to play out in highly unpredictable and surprising ways.
Not only that, but in order to make money from advertising, they link all this wonderful data (your data) with advertiser interests. Much of this linking is done under the radar, via rules you are not allowed to see.
It's very important to distinguish the benefits of shared data with ownership and control of the data, and the rules by which it is mined and accessed.
BTW, a lot of Facebook data is "self-expression" and if given the choice in real-time, many people would elect for NOT for their contribution to go into the tech-giants mainstream database. Going into "settings" and messing around with broader privacy options for content types and particular people is an absolute joke in terms of UX and human experience in relation to expressing personal views or communicating with friends.
"Privacy settings" does not come naturally in communication. Facebook knows this, and knows people will not bother or become lazy with privacy.
Bottom line is, Facebook is an inappropriate platform for the collected data that is your life.
The big problem in the future will be the fact that as the line between "real" and "online" life diminishes, the party which holds the data will become an authority akin to governments we have today. When or why should we trust an authority? How can we be sure that the authority is trustworthy? Politics is hard enough and we all know that we can't trust politicians, how on earth are we going to trust a party with commercial interests to somehow manage our social lifes?
You seem very optimistic about things like Facebook collecting data and interlinking people's social life via their platform by using the collected data. I for one find this very scary, to such extent that I'll rather cripple my social life and not use Facebook than trust an commercial authority over the data collected about me which I have no control over.
I provide the data. I see the data. I own the data. I control the data. What is so hard about it? Honestly.
Also, not using facebook is difficult to imagine for me. It's pretty baked in to my life.
The thing is, Facebook could be better by allowing members to invite outside data to flow into their feeds from chosen sources, and providing more freedom with data-exchange in general. Enforced segregation is costly.
Dude, what does that even mean?