The Social Graph is neither…

Rdf hell

Put simply, my most shared/forwarded article of 2011 although coming late – Nov.

I’m a big user of pinboard and a fan.

Let’s just say it’s a must read.

It’s not a graph – “When you start talking about building a social graph that transcends any specific implementation, you quickly find yourself in the weeds. Is accepting someone’s invitation on LinkedIn the same kind of connection as mutually following them on Twitter? Can we define some generic connections like ‘fan of’ or ‘follower’ and re-use them for multiple sites? Does it matter that you can see who your followers are on site X but not on site Y? … This is supposed to be a canonical representation of human relationships. But it only takes five minutes of reading the existing standards to see that they’re completely inadequate”

Privacy is another sticking point which I think will be a massive portent of things to come

“There’s another fundamental problem in that a graph is a static thing, with no concept of time. Real life relationships are a shared history, but in the social graph they’re just a single connection.”

Declaring relationships explicitly is a social act: “Your best friend from high school surfaces and sends a friend request. Do you just click accept, or do you send a little message? Or do you ignore him because you don’t want to deal with the awkward situation? Declaring connections is about as much fun as trying to whittle people from a guest list, with the added stress that social networking is too new for us to have shared social conventions around it.”

Leaving aside the technical issues of how to implement, how does cutting ties actually work socially? Is there any way to be discreet, for example, or have connections naturally degrade over time? In real life, all relationships fade naturally if you don’t maintain them, but right now social networks preserve ties in amber until we explicitly break them.

“Social networks exist to sell you crap. The icky feeling you get when your friend starts to talk to you about Amway, or when you spot someone passing out business cards at a birthday party, is the entire driving force behind a site like Facebook.”

And my favourite : “The funny thing is, no one’s really hiding the secret of how to make awesome online communities. Give people something cool to do and a way to talk to each other, moderate a little bit, and your job is done.”

“My hope is that whatever replaces Facebook and Google+ will look equally inevitable, and that our kids will think we were complete rubes for ever having thrown a sheep or clicked a +1 button. It’s just a matter of waiting things out, and leaving ourselves enough freedom to find some interesting, organic, and human ways to bring our social lives online.”

Amen.

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