Where Is Your Social Graph?

I know that I wrote not too long ago that I didn’t like the term "social graph" but the comments I got to that post educated me to the reasons why it’s a good term. So I am using it now.

But where is your social graph? In Facebook or myspace or LinkedIn? Maybe. But mine is in a bunch of other places;

1) email – Xobni proves what I’ve always thought. My primary social network is my email address book. But it took a tool like Xobni to present it in that way. It is shocking to me that AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and even Google have not done anything with this opportunity. It’s enormous.

2) this blog – MyBlogLog turned me on because it started to build a social network around this blog. But since the acquisition by Yahoo! its been pretty stagnant. Six Apart says they are going to give me the tools to build this blog’s social network and open it up via OpenID. That’s a cool idea. Bring it on.

3) twitter – last night i was joined by Charlie and Ben in collective agony as we watched the tenth inning unfold in the Mets/Marlins game. It sure helped to have some company to take that hit.

These are the three places where my social network exists most strongly. For many it is Facebook or myspace or Beebo or LinkedIn or something else. The truth is that no one platform holds our entire social graph.

So when Marc calls out to Mark to open up the social graph, he should in fact be calling out to every application that is social (isn’t that every app Marc). Because technology has allowed us to capture our worlds, database them, and map them. And now it’s time to build on that. The social web is upon us.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. ppearlman

    i have internalized my s.g. since infancy. it is inside of me, a part of me… email, my cell phone, twitter whatever are simply tools i use for access…

  2. Emil Sotirov

    This is from today’s Bubblegen (http://www.bubblegeneration……”But the concept of ownership is already more obsolete than not in the markets we’re talking about.”Aggreeing with this, my comment would be – are we reflectively dreaming of replacing the corporate “walled gardens” and “data silos”… with personal ones. Or, should we, instead, skip this stage when thinking about the organizing of our “own” data. Because, yes, “the social web is upon us.”

  3. Irvin

    I think we should make some distinctions about the types of social graphs out there. I would argue that graphs from e-mail and the blog are actual graphs, i.e. graphs built directly off of your activities. Social networks like facebook/myspace/etc. are a little bit more variable, but I would say that they’re generally more aspirational. This largely depends on the user. Anecdotally speaking, people that initially started off with facebook (e.g. Harvard ’04) used it to actually map who their friends were at the time. Following classes were a little looser with their friending standards, with many more people simply adding anyone whose name they could remember to their list.I think what’s interesting is that what you seem to be looking for is a social graph that captures the actual characteristics of your social interactions, much like last.fm captures your listening habits. But what others may be interested in is using these networks as a means of creating a map of the social interactions that they would like to have (e.g. 2,000+ friends), regardless of whether this is reflective of reality. My guess is that there’s value in allowing people to construct both types of graphs (without purposefully signalling to them, “You are a facebook whore with no friends in real life”)As an additional aside, I’d also like to say that both of these graphs could be improved if a temporal dimension was added, so that the user could see when they interacted with a set of people, the duration of the engagement, etc. As of right now, social networks show you a static picture with all of your friends lumped into one big list, although the Top Friends application in facebook may be changing that. But not all of those friends are equal – especially over time. E-mail shows you a very, very current view of who you’re interacting with, but I’d hesitate to universally call all of my e-mail contacts ‘friends.’

    1. vruz

      (late reply after the weekend)But is frequency of email exchange a true measure of frendship strength ?say for example my friend Paul… I never send him email anymore, I call him to his mobile phone to invite him for a few beers.My friend Rae who lives at the other side of the continent, she’s one of the few people I consider friends who have stuck through thick and thing for 12 years now, but we hardly ever email each other, we mostly use IM.We just know we’re friends and we don’t have a need to “signal” our friendship.At the very least – and I’m still in doubt whether this is possible – I think you could only build such sort of graph taking into account *ALL* forms of interaction: email, phone, mobile phone, IM, even files sent over the LAN and gibberish sent over Facebook !!

  4. Mike

    Off topic to the main subject of the post, but I thought worth asking.”It is shocking to me that AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and even Google have not done anything with this opportunity.” I mean no arrogance when in saying that I have that sentiment about some of my own, more ambitious, ideas and projects.And I wonder, what answer would satisfy A VC when, after your pitch, they ask “What’s going to prevent one of the major players from getting into this market?” I’ve heard that questions discussed many times, but have yet to hear a good answer, short of the uncommon route of a patent.

  5. ks

    I am not sure that this is the right spot to ask this question, but the post does talk about Xobni. I took a look at the website and it looks very exciting. But does anyone know how it plans to make money? I don’t see any obvious way that ads could be incorporated, and if it’s going to be somehow mining my Outlook contacts, I am less excited by it. Just a thought.

  6. paynito

    I love reading your blog. I just learned about this social graph idea today. I want a way for people who find me on facebook to get to my blog and then for them to see all of the cool things I listen to on last.fm. I guess links and a blogroll can do that. But this rel=”me” tag I still can’t make it work. I still haven’t seen the graph, but I guess it’s like Plaxo, it means I can email someone even if the only place I have their info is locked away in a social networking site I never really use.

  7. Nate

    I believe you’re misusing the term “social graph” as you begin your article. The social graph exists outside of databases and is not centered around individuals; individuals’ social networks are centered around themselves. We use databases, including Facebook’s, to record limited mappings of our social networks. Collectively, our social networks make up the social graph (something you allude to in your second-to-last paragraph). Each database of social relationships contains a limited mapping of the world’s social graph.People have the incentive to map a portion of their social network for the purpose of an application (particularly communication and sharing). They are less inclined to map for the sake of mapping or aggregate for the sake of aggregating.Social applications that utilize existing mappings of social networks will have a lower barrier to adoption. If those controlling databases of social relationships don’t let their members access their social mappings when using social applications, people will remap a portion of their social network depending on the application’s attractiveness.

  8. sam

    The pitch and the hit are worthy pastimes.Classifying relationships digitally may be valuable to the developer who sells at peak hype, but not so much for you the hopeless toiler.What more than vanity to contribute to these systems?Can’t you see we are taking your participation and reselling it to the ad world?You want to nudge or poke or wink at me?Quiet desperation 2.0 wouldn’t you say?