Building Better Social Graphs (continued)

I've been thinking for a while now that there will not be one social graph to rule them all (Facebook) but that we will eventually have a multitude of web/mobile services in our lives, each with a social graph we curate specifically for that service. That's been my gut instinct as I do not believe the Facebook social graph is the right graph for Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, Etsy, Svpply, Boxee, etc, etc, etc.

But what has been less clear to me is how we will make it easy for people to do this curation. I posted some thoughts on this subject last week. And I've continued to puzzle on this topic since.

Yesterday, in a series of chats with my colleagues at USV, it started to become clear to me that the mobile phone address book may well be the answer.

I have been using a bunch of mobile messaging apps with social graphs in them. Examples are Kik and Beluga. When you download and startup these apps, they do a query of their user base against your contacts and allow you to easily and quickly add all the people who are in your contacts to your network in these services.

Of course, you could do the same thing with Facebook's API (unless you are Twitter who they continue to block from doing this). But the truth is that most people have very large social graphs on Facebook and probably don't want 1000+ people being added to their mobile messaging app. Those same people might have 100 or so people in their mobile phone contacts and these people are certainly exactly the kind of people you would want to add to a mobile messaging app.

Mobile messaging is clearly a perfect match for a contact book on a mobile phone. But all web/mobile services can and should use this move to quickly build application specific social graphs. The people in our phone contacts are our "strong ties" and we should want them in most any social graph we curate.

Every big powerful technology company has met a new technology that has undone their dominance. For Microsoft it was open source and the Internet. For Google, it appears that it may be social. For Facebook, it appears that it may be mobile.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Semil Shah

    Hi Fred,I currently use a third-party iOS app “myphone” that pulls all of my FB friends into my iPhone, and I use it quite often. I tend to hold a different view, that as FB builds their mobile OS to penetrate into different platforms/handsets, they will have a great chance to solve the problem you highlight (intimate graph, at one extreme) and will dominate on the other end of the spectrum, too.Semil

    1. fredwilson

      if anyone uses their mobile OS

  2. Ric

    Fred – I’ve agreed for a while that there won’t be a single social network/app/thing that holds all our connections, of all types – I subscribe to the “horses for courses” idea that different networks (and their associated services) serve us different purposes.But the idea of being able to aggregate our social interactions (the digital ones, at least) has an appeal … but I’d much rather control that myself than let someone else (particularly Facebook, who seem to have a very elastic concept of privacy and data ownership). I think the curation of our social graph ties in with VRM, personal data stores, identity management etc as a set of data related to ourselves that deserves to managed by ourselves, independently of any of the social apps/sites we might subscribe to.

    1. fredwilson

      yupthe question is how one gets millions of users to do this. it is oneof those things that they know they should do but won’t do unlesssomeone comes up with a reason why they must do it

  3. Andrew Weber

    I liked robdiana’s notion in your original post that metadata could play a role. Rather than having separate applications or even separate graphs, wouldn’t it be easier to manage one graph but to have metadata enabling the user to target a specific group with a photo, tweet, blog post, etc., etc.? Having multiple contact lists quickly becomes difficult to manage in terms of maintaining addresses, phone numbers, etc.If metadata isn’t the solution then the next best thing would be for each new app or service that leads to a new social graph to allow you to curate your contact lists as you’re getting started.

    1. fredwilson

      FB has tried that with their organizing toolsi think it is too much work for users to do all of this

  4. Riaz Kanani

    I have been thinking on this as well – I like your idea from a previous post of being able to select people from a pre-existing social network to create a subset within the new social network.I agree that the contact list is a special subset in itself and that presence indicates stronger ties – but that doesn’t necessarily correlate to the mobile app. For one, I end up mixing my work and personal contacts too much even for my own liking. The mobile contact list itself still needs work done imho.The inmaps feature form LinkedIn ( quickly showed me the various groups I interact with – and even then missed out probably a further 3-4 groups. But it was interesting to see what is technically possible just within linkedin.What is needed is a central social graph that maintains a connection with all the other apps and allows you to select relevant connections over time. Even better would be the ability to have new connections from one of these sub networks magically appear back in the central store.Facebook wants to be this but by doing more and its heavy personal focus ends up negating its ability to be the central store.

  5. fredwilson

    new disqus look and feel this morning. i like it. what do others think?

    1. Riaz Kanani

      never noticed but now you draw my attention to it.. I like it. Clean and elegant. It made me update my out of date profile as well..

    2. ErikSchwartz

      I like the mini bios

      1. Guest

        I like the mini bios too… except mine is stuck on “A sentence.” I can’t change it.

    3. Matt A. Myers

      I personally like having more structure around the comments, it lets my eyes know where to slide down faster (more solid guides; like the edges of a book or magazine, or maybe an e-reader?). Maybe I will get used to it.The red flag on mouseover is too prominent. It should be a grey first and then when you mouseover it it can turn red.

    4. Tom Hughes

      They continue to improve, enough such that I just linked to my Disqus page from my personal web site. Suddenly Facebook seems very… peripheral.

    5. Aaron Klein

      Love it. I’m not seeing buttons by “share on” while I write this comment, but I’m guessing that’s going to be a killer feature.

    6. Scott Yates

      No question that the redesign makes you pay a bit more attention to your “bio.”

      1. Scott Yates

        And now that I see it, I see that html doesn’t work in the bio. Should I fix that, or report it as a bug to Disqus?

        1. obscurelyfamous

          It’s intended that way, actually.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Makes sense. Names are already hyperlinked.



      1. Tereza


        1. Matt A. Myers

          It’s hilarious, and as annoying as it is – the content of it is good…

      2. Matt A. Myers

        “WHOLE THING FEEL NO UNIFIED, TOO MUCH AIR, PARTS FLOATING AROUND, NOTHING TO TIE TOGETHER.”That’s what I was saying too, but you put it, let us say, more poetically.

    8. paramendra

      It is great.

  6. kagilandam

    One size never fits all.100% on that … it is going to be app specific social graph…. that 1000+ FB list will fragment into 10-15 social graph. The question is … Is FB going transform into mother of all apps accommodating individually popular apps OR they will be distributing these apps killing the other players?

    1. fredwilson

      the independent web vs the dependent web

  7. RichardF

    I like that idea Fred and because my contact list is synced with exchange/googleapps, it’s then easy to group people.Thumbs up for the new Disqus, hope it has sorted out the “liking” issue I was having, also if Daniel is reading this, I don’t always get an email if someone responds to my comment.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Have you checked your spam file? I find sometimes I get them and sometimes they go to spam.

      1. RichardF

        Yes I have Dave and they are not in there. It’s usually the same people that I don’t receive notifications from. It’s a bit of a nuisance because I rely on it a lot and if I don’t get the email then I won’t always know if someone has replied to a comment. It can make you look a little ignorant if it warranted a reply!

        1. Aaron Klein

          Richard, same problem here, although I haven’t noticed the pattern of it being the same person. One time it was a Fred reply to my comment and I only noticed because I went to the Disqus dashboard for something.

          1. RichardF

            Aaron, I have had the same problem with replies from Fred.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            me too with Fred’s comments…but I seem to always get YOURS Richard!

          3. RichardF

            well it’s nice to know that the important emails are getting through. I’m obviously a priority customer πŸ™‚

    2. obscurelyfamous

      We had a short window when notifications bugged out. They were slightly delayed yesterday, but generally are available.We have a new service status page that should be accurate too:

      1. RichardF

        thanks for the update Daniel



      3. kidmercury

        hey daniel, just had a feature idea, giving site owner permission to limit commenters using all caps, or limit number of consecutive capitalized characters. anyway just a thought i wanted to share

        1. obscurelyfamous

          Hah, I like that one.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            I found a bug. :(I started to “Follow” people.I would click their profile picture to load it, click the [ + Follow ] and then click outside the box.After clicking to follow FAKE GRIMLOCK (embarrassed slightly), every time I click ANY profile picture it is FAKE GRIMLOCK’s profile window… :(EDIT: Reloading page fixed it… but there’s something going on there

          2. obscurelyfamous

            Using Firefox? I think FF has a weird browser-level caching bug. Super weird, but fairly rare.

          3. Matt A. Myers

            Safari – usually I’m using Chrome but I had to reinstall OS

          4. Mark Essel

            Please don’t be embarrassed. I started following FAKE GRIMLOCK as well after seeing a few RWW comments and a comment on my blog.Enjoy his eccentric voice, but meaningful comments.

          5. Donna Brewington White

            …and is no one else wondering what the flag is for?

        2. Matt A. Myers

          Did an enthusiastic robot dinosaur give you that idea?

          1. kidmercury

            yes. i can’t stand all caps comments. another feature disqus shouldadd is an ignore button so i can ignore terrible people like thatperson. i honestly would pay to never see a comment from that personagain (only a little bit though. and only a one time fee).

          2. Mark Essel

            So weird.If you filter out the caps, Fake Grimlock makes some great comments. He brings a bit heavier “character” to the medium.

          3. fredwilson

            i’m super happy that fakegrimlock has added some fun to this community

          4. Mark Essel

            Fits right in while changing the entire vibe. I was a fan in no time.Caught a few tweets of FGs a while ago, but only started reading his comments more recently on RWW and got a very positive impression.Definitely an AVCer.

          5. fredwilson

            other than the diss he got from the kid (worried that he will not bethe kookiest AVCer?), i think he got a warm welcome

      4. Donna Brewington White

        I thought you were just trying to train us to look at our disqus page for new comments.

  8. ShanaC

    Well, yes, but there are certain privacy implications, as anyone who knows things about the single life currently could talk about.There was an old sex and the city with a great line about two strangers giving out their numbers (which I have promptly forgotten)- however, I think there is a truth that the mobile phone graph will be really different than any others. It def helps the likes of foursquare (they are a very mobile proposition) I also think that there will be radii of privacy as the mobile phone becomes one of these “ways we define ourselves.” (ie more than a computer, just because its use comparatively is so public)(I like the new disqus feel so much better than previously, who did the UI???) (also your first line makes me want to crack jokes about throwing facebook into mount doom…)

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. And I don’t think foursquare leverages the mobile contact book enoughcurrently

  9. Avi Deitcher

    I am not sure of that for two reasons, call them technical and fundamental.Technical: There are different numbers of people in each. Some have no meaning in one context vs another (e.g. liking or being a member of some thing in a social context, or having a customer service number for your bank in your mobile phonebook). Others are ones you have no need to share. More importantly, social graphs are just that: graphs. Your phonebook is a list in a very specific context. I have seen a lot of sync apps come and go; they all tried to merge your Gmail with your Outlook with your Mac Address Book with your mobile with your Palm (do I date myself?) with etc. etc.Fundamental: One of the core problems with the social world has been the separation of personal (and multiple layers of personal) from business (and multiple layers from business). Friend your boss? Share info on LinkedIn? It gets more complex with your mobile phone, which may or may not be synced with your Exchange (or similar) account through your business.Not to be negative, but I am not convinced this is the answer. That having been said, some form of “manage the graphs” may emerge, but it is also possible there will simply be multiple social graphs.

    1. fredwilson

      I’m not digesting a bulk add from mobile. Just suggestions

  10. Tom Labus

    What’s the deal with the Bio’s

  11. Avi Deitcher

    As an aside: a few years back, I was at a Web 2.0 conference in NY, I think at Fordham Law School. IIRC, Esther Dyson gave the keynote. It was just after Facebook had opened their API. The one line which stuck with me (rough quote) was, “if you are building a Web application, you have to be crazy to build it on anything other than Facebook.”It seemed laughable to me then, even more so now.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s an oxymoron. it’s not a web app if its built on FB

      1. Avi Deitcher

        Well, it may be moronic in a business sense unless you are strictly social-built (like FarmVille), but I am not sure that the infrastructure must be LAMP or Rails or what have you, running on your own servers (or GAE/Heroku/whatever), to qualify as a Web app. If it provides services over the Web, does it need your own infra to qualify as a Web app?

      2. George A.

        Fred,This is a great post and I generally agree with you…although I don’t think this is lost on facebook. With 750m pc’s and 600m subscribers, it is obvious that they need to engage the mobile paradigm to find growth.However, that said, I am struggling to understand your position here. Only a handful of posts ago, you suggested that facebook at 25x-50x EBITDA felt reasonable to you…now, you are blogging that you you think the end is in sight… WHAT?to justify a 25x ebitda valuation, you need nearly 40 years of sustained cashflows from here, 50x ebitda and you need nearly 80 years. if the end is in site, how is it that you are comfortable with this valuation?

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Disqus needs a ‘watch’ icon feature so I can be notified when there’s a reply to this. :)And then a listing of what’s most watched would be valuable to a site moderator and its visitors.

          1. Mark Essel

            Don’t you get emails generated from replies directly to you? I do.

        2. fredwilson

          I didn’t say the end is in sight. I compared them to Microsoft and Googlewho last time I looked are still putting up huge numbersI just don’t think they will end up owning the social graph of the web

          1. George A.

            thanks, I see now that I must have been wrong.Facebook, just got a shout out in the SOTU address, that should be worth about $20bn or so in market cap….

          2. fredwilson

            that’s why they aren’t going public πŸ™‚

      3. markslater

        No its not Fred. Its even written in FBML FFS.

  12. Sebastian Wain

    It seems like you are searching Facebook Achilles heel.One possibility is making them irrelevant, using its social network to bootstrap an app and then “porting” the social network to other places. I assume this is what Zynga is doing.If you can build applications on top of an interchangeable social network and give an unified presentation layer like Facebook does, the end-user will not notice differences. I don’t use FB often but what’s engaging to me is having a single place to look for photos, with Google you must go to the Picasa site to look at the pictures, then go to groups site for discussions but without a unified presentation.There is some discussion about P2P social networks, but in my opinion it doesn’t matter for the end user and is more complicated to run data analytics in a distributed way.

    1. fredwilson

      Facebook is the best photo sharing service out there

      1. Sebastian Wain

        But, at the same time I know very few people who engage in deep philosophy & music conversations on facebook. They could use a mailing list, twitter or a newsgroups but facebook was convenient for them.In some point the people invent or guide (like in Twitter?) the usage of the platform. Who knows, may be the games/virtual goods and other distractions worked against FB in the long run.

    2. Guest

      I think Facebook’s Achilles heel is content sharing. The fact that people are throwing more and more data into the Facebook stream, yet there’s so little organization. I would LOVE to see it organized such as; Check ins (where are my friends at?), videos (what videos are they sharing?), music (what are they listening to?).Facebook does this to a degree, particularly with photos and video I upload, but there’s a lot of content I’d like to see organized.

  13. Matt A. Myers

    Facebook’s problem being mobile? Facebook’s problem is they don’t get social, and they’re trying to control their ecosystem to grow as quickly as possible without taking into account what users want. Do they care? No. They want to make money on their IPO.But like “everyone has Facebook” (not true), everyone has a mobile phone (more and more true), so connecting those people easily gives a good platform into networks / social graphs.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Further to add,I agree with Fred, except that I don’t think mobile directly will kill Facebook.Mobile will only indirectly kill Facebook because it’s a go-around for what Facebook could have let themselves be.But Facebook will die (or become more irrelevant at minimum) because they’re trying to control their ecosystem in the name of massive short-term profits, and because they either a) don’t get social, or b) their desire for being ‘the ecosystem’ and needing the control is preventing them from allowing it to be properly social – which means sharing, sharing profits and not trying to hoard; oddly enough sharing is a part of being human, and them not doing it is going to kill them….. ahhhhhh … is that beautiful irony or what?Everyone also has their mobile device with them and readily available, more so compared to a laptop. Yes, SmartPhones are blurring the lines there, however there’s still the more highly curated layer of the phone number contact list.And guess what?The users own that list.No platform can prevent them from letting an application the person installs say “Oh, no — that’ll hurt our bottomline … even though it’s what you want, sorry!” (Actually, I guess a mobile platform could block them… scary)This conversation fits well my The Independent Web, How Can It Work? response to Fred’s Sunday post on The Independent Web.



        1. fredwilson

          What’s with the all caps?

          1. Matt A. Myers

            It’s enthusiasm… lolWow – looking as his comment history all of his posts are caps… Very enthusiastic robot dinosaur…

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. Guest

            I’m not sure about anyone else, but you sound more like Cookie Monster in my head. Can anyone else confirm this?

          4. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          5. Matt A. Myers

            It’s not nice to name-call or belittle people.It’s just generation gaps … they’re just a bit older. ;)Cookie Monster fits perfectly too. πŸ™‚

          6. Guest


          7. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          8. Donna Brewington White

            Yes! Exactly what I was hearing!

          9. ShanaC

            He’s a grimlock?

      2. Mark Essel

        Good stuff Matt. Queued up your post for later reading, go go instapaper.I gotta admit I like Grimlock’s style and thoughtful responses.

      3. ShanaC

        Outside the US, social networking grows because of the Phone. It could totally be facebook harnesses this as phones become more important

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Interesting thought, Matthew, that FB doesn’t “get” social. Very interesting.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Really? I thought it was more obvious than not. If you look at nuances they just don’t. They have a network of people, and sure they give them a few basic communication tools – more and more of which function are being copied from success of other sites who’ve proven the model; Like the foundations of how Facebook came to be (think The Social Network), there’s not the creative genius at Facebook that I can see – just the ability to see what’s working and attempting to integrate it … but if you don’t have the creative foundation of how to get there then you can’t see the nuances, you won’t see the nuances.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. Mark Essel

            Which type of culture produced you I wonder.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        2. Donna Brewington White

          I think you are the first person I’ve actually “heard” say it…and your follow-up comment is especially insightful.I wholeheartedly agree with you. The rest of my earlier comment that I deleted is that it seems that the mind behind FB doesn’t truly “get” relationships or community, yet people have used it as a relationship tool in spite of this.I try not to bank too much on the film since I hear from those in the know that it’s a flawed version of the story. But, I have to tell you, that after seeing it, so much of what I experience on FB made sense.I do appreciate FB and the fact that I am in touch with my best friend from 3rd grade…and my mom can feel like she is seeing my kids grow up from a distance, etc., but I recognize it for what it is…and what it’s not.I know not to trust it. I don’t like that.Thanks, Matthew.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            You’re welcome.IMHO, if the movie was so fictional and “flawed” then they would have sued for defamation. But they didn’t. Even if partially, they didn’t. Why? Because then it would have given a platform to have all kinds of juicy details made public that were probably locked away as apart of the ~$58 million settlement the brothers received; Who are now suing again because they’re claiming that they legitimately didn’t know of Facebooks value when they accepted the settlement. And really, they could give their lawyer $30 million to try to get more, they’ll still have almost $30 million left…Karma’s a bitch. :)P.S. I hear people in public talking about how much they think Mark’s a douche (not my words…). They use Facebook, but they don’t like the founder or how the company is operated. Many people are very ready to jump ship and swim to a beautiful oasis island with fresh coconuts and beautiful women to feed them grapes… or whatever floats your boat. πŸ™‚

        3. ShanaC

          Ok, what is getting social? What is this creative force we are talking about?What should getting social mean? I do think it is long overdue for a revamp

  14. Marc Gingras

    I know I am totally bias, but to me the true representation of a real-time social graph can be found in the calendar – at least in your professional life. You calendar knows the intensity of the relationship you have with people. It know how many time you met them, the recency of the last contact.As you evolve in your career, your calendar stays up to date and knows how your social graph evolves with time. For example, two years ago, the list of people I was interacting with was quite different from the people I am interacting with today. My mobile address book doesn’t know that, but my calendar does.The only caveat I have around the calendar being the true representation of the social graph – is that it only holds true for your professional career or the avid calendar users. Food for thought.

  15. awaldstein

    Re: Disqus. It feels right and natural which is the best first test of a UI. Also made me remember that I had a bio at all (which I shortened).Great context in this quote Fred:”Every big powerful technology company has met a new technology that has undone their dominance. For Microsoft it was open source and the Internet. For Google, it appears that it may be social. For Facebook, it appears that it may be mobile.”I’m not certain but the idea that the smaller screen should be occupied by the most personal and important info makes sense. Clutter becomes unacceptable when real estate is so precious.

  16. Harry DeMott

    The way my iPhone is set up to sync, I have all of my contacts on my phone – as well as on 2 Google contact lists – one outlook contact list – and all synced to the cloud through Gist.So I’m not sure how this could work on the mobile side.I was thinking something along the lines of Facebook Connect. You can sign in on almost all social services with Facebook Connect – but you can’t sign in with Foursquare, or Quora or any of the other social services I might use. Why not build those hooks into the system – and then when you go to start using another service – you can start with the social graph that is the best fit for the service you are on.Alternatively, you could always find someone to build a social graph management service – which would allow you to arrange your contacts in groups. Friends, family, business etc… becomes Facebook, Twitter, Disqus, Foursquare, Quora etc….So I would file you under business in a normal context – as that is how we know each other, but would be happy to follow your RSS feed, your Twitter stream, your Quora answers (seems like this correlates well with business), and knowing your love of good restaurants – something to do with Food – maybe Foursquare to catch restaurant tips.

  17. kidmercury

    i don’t think any progress is going to be made until folks get serious about data portability (data needs to get out of individual graphs before it can be merged/filtered), and until there are integrated federations (“graph partnerships,” which i suspect will be based largely around values pertaining to intellectual property rights and morals).APIs will not be totally open to all; facebook doesn’t want to give twitter access to their API, and i’m sure twitter will cut folks off from their API, and they probably have already. establishing API governments is already happening in a way, now it simply needs to get more serious.the more serious these technology governments get, the more they will conflict with “real-world” — i.e. nation-state — governments, just as nation-state governments are collapsing. those that are hanging out with the bubble blowers and goldman, and have IPO dreams, are going to side with nation-state governments instead of technology governments as conflicts between the two forms of government escalate.which government is more legitimate? legitimacy comes from moral authority.9/11 was an inside job,kid mercury

    1. kidmercury

      also, as nation-state governments realize the threat that online governments pose to them, they will do what governments do best: attack.Published today on CNET:A controversial bill handing President Obama power over privately owned computer systems during a “national cyberemergency,” and prohibiting any review by the court system, will return this year.Internet companies should not be alarmed by the legislation, first introduced last summer by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), a Senate aide said last week. Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.Read more:…note that the moral authority the US government will be relying on here to control aspects of networking technology is homeland security.9/11 was an inside job,kid mercury

    2. fredwilson

      kid, i love your disqus “bio””dedicated to re-building the world’s money supply”

      1. kidmercury

        was thinking about going with the standard “9/11 was an inside job” but i figure i’d hit them with the avatar on that one and then use the disqus bio to hit them with the solution. the kid mercury one-two punch combo!

        1. fredwilson

          well done

        2. Donna Brewington White

          I like your style, Kid.Also, wanted to see how my bio appears.Edit: hmmm….

    3. Matt A. Myers

      You and I friend will help fix this mess (along with a lot of other people here). :)I’m thankful there’s someone like you to pay attention to this and be able to understand it. πŸ™‚

    4. mydigitalself

      Whilst I agree with you with regards to data portability, I don’t think that’s the major obstacle to this whole problem.The problem is that social dynamics are incredibly complex to govern by rules. People have a mental model of their various networks in their mind and to map this into a user interface and a series of algorithms is close to impossible without a lot of work to do on the user’s side.I’ve got best friends who I’m not interested in their Facebook feed, but I’ll use Facebook to communicate with them. I’ve got people I follow on Twitter I wouldn’t care to have their mobile number, or they mine. I’ve got mobile numbers of builders, plumbers, taxi’s in ski resorts and so on that I have social governance rules for that I wouldn’t even begin to know how to write down let alone how to build a system to explain them.

  18. julien

    I see it the other way around: my mobile address book is the biggest of them all – I don’t really care about its size, it’s mostly text, whereas I separate my facebook friends from my linkedin connections for example. I want/need all the contact info merged into my address book, but not everybody in that list belongs to my linkedin or facebook. I don’t browse my address book randomly, I search it to find someone, so it’d better be exhaustive, storage isn’t an issue so I don’t care about the info that I never use.

    1. fredwilson

      i clearly didn’t explain myself well enough in the posti am not suggesting we bulk import our phone contacts into new web servicesi am suggesting the web services query our phone contacts and find overlaps and recommend them for easy social graph creation and curation

      1. Riaz Kanani

        instagram does this well..

  19. Roland Haddad

    Fred, just a few thoughts on the mobile applications for messaging. A part of our entries on the phone book is active and another is not, sometimes more like a silent group of friends and acquaintances (same with facebook actually). We tended, before social networks emerged as a substitute for us to reach our new friends (we still take friend phone number that happens less with time), to gather contacts of people with who we have crossed paths in life on our mobile. With time, we tend to lose contact with some of them for a reason or another but their name and number remain on our phone, just a piece of furniture you dont want to get rid of.Now, going back to mobile messenger app and I’m taking Whatsapp, which is very popular in my part of the world right now, as an example, I have people on my favorites (whatsapp decided that all the ppl who also have their app on their phones are on my favorites list) who I will never normally text using a mobile application, simply because they are not too important to me or I haven’t talked to them in ages. In other situations, I’ve received sometimes whatsapp messages from ppl I don’t keep their number anymore, but apparently they do! Despite the great functionality of this messenger (I dont know about yours), it lacked privacy settings for me to control who I want to be on my list.I agree with the trend that going forward we need a social graph we curate specifically for a service (reading from your previous post), but I think the way to go is to continuously leverage our existing social graphs and empower users with the flexibility to take who you want where you go.

  20. andyswan

    Just seeing what my mini bio is on disqus.EDIT: well, that was anti-climactic

    1. Dave Pinsen


  21. ceonyc

    I think you’re forgetting the “normals”. This isn’t a problem at all for people who basically hangout with a very small group of people. That’s why services like GroupMe are getting so popular–because most people would rather talk to a small group of people privately than they want to be public to the world. You and I aren’t in that camp, but we’re in the extreme minority–and, unfortunately, people’s worlds are getting smaller. The distance we let kids play has shrunk from one around the block to the front yard to inside the house. They get exposed to less and less diversity all the time. I grew up chatting in the AOL software with new people through member search, but today’s kids just go to Facebook to talk to people they already know. Most people don’t have the issue of nonoverlapping networks that they have to manage, and Facebook works just fine for them.

    1. fredwilson

      the normals i talk to have the problem. my kids, for example, won’t use FB places because they understand that’s not the right social graph for sharing their location. they have different set of relationships on tumblr than FB and they like that. i think you are patronizing the “normals” by suggesting they don’t have the same wants and needs as we do

      1. ceonyc

        Not patronizing them at all… Hell, I envy people who have a core groupof friends they stick with. Managing my groups is a PITA.

    2. obscurelyfamous

      Kid Charlie using AOL chatrooms and today’s kids on Facebook aren’t the same. Making online friends on AOL wasn’t a very “normals” thing to do 15 years ago (or in my case, making online friends through IRC). Normal kids played with friends from school and the neighborhood.But today’s normal kids are all on Facebook. And this generation will have a Kid Charlie also doing something one generation ahead of his time.

      1. ceonyc

        I played outside, too!But in 1998 in my dorm, chatting with new people was definitely a prettyroutine activity for people once broadband wound up in our dorms.

    3. Tereza

      hey charlie i’m not sure if what you’re describing is ‘normal’ kids or ‘normal’ adults. but thought it might be useful to paint the following picture.pretty much every parent i know has many circles and only partially-overlapping networks which change pretty drastically year over year. it’s very tough to keep track of them and keep your list “clean”.for example, just on the most basic level, your kids’ classes are changing every year. if you’re an average mom-on-the-go you can either be smart about it and manually enter everyone from your class list at the beginning of the year (not knowing who your kid will be friends with). *Maybe* friend the parents in FB…but that’s weird bc you’re not sure you want to be their friend yet. or you carry school directories with you everywhere (NOT!). there is never a day when there aren’t playdates to plan, carpools to organize. and if you drop the ball you will hear about it loud + fast. it is very fluid.i have 2 kids each in a different school. this is very typical. totally different (non-overlapping) networks, different lists, different calendars. there is a third network for a parenting group i belong to. a tennis club. we belong to a church. the kids have activities (karate school, piano lessons). many families these days have 3-4 kids. seriously, i don’t know how their moms do it. but the kids definitely have many circles. (what i think is different from today versus years ago is that the circles + relationships are ‘pre-qualified’ for the kids, rather than giving them latitude to search freely over the web for new relationships. there is just too much creepiness out there)then there are professional and alumni (high school, college, grad school) groups, just representing places you’ve gone to school and worked. for better or for worse, each year you get a little older, and one day you find this list has become damn most ‘normals’ i know, who are parents, deal with all these i just listed.then add onto that the ny tech scene, my own work, now. the ‘extreme’ part. i personally find that this part is *much* easier to deal with and track, because it’s relatively monolithic vis-a-vis the tools + platforms they’re using.

      1. ceonyc

        What I’m hearing from you actually is that you have a bunch of lists ofinformation you don’t control around schools and kids activities. Seemsunlikely you’d want to share photos or music tastes or other personalinformation you might publish with class lists.That’s a slightly different problem than having a link or piece of contentthat I want to share, but I’m not sure which group I want to send it out to.

      2. Jim Patterson

        I am a reader and not a regular poster. However, I have taken the “leap of faith” on the topic, and, with some distribution, set up private contact list site that is a) friendy to kids (who carry cell phones) and b) very friendly to groups.I see the evolution the same way Fred describes above:1) Organize the social grid (that’s the ez part) with privacy as differentiator2) Message your group from your PC and have it delivered as a text (SMS) or an email 3) Foster a communications cycle that is focused (one to one, many to many), Minimize reply to all fatigue (our app provides free caller ID for al of the groupies who are not in your contact list)4) Provide a platform for other applications to filter communications to make the conversation it Mobile Symmetry. If you want to see how we are using this with a large church directory company, see

      3. Jim Patterson

        Completely agree with the thread. We have started to develop the soution to the issue described above. See for a look. Mobile Symmetry.Four parts to the soution: 1) Organize through groups. Keep it as private as you want. You control how others see your contact information. 2) Foster group communication from the administrator (messaging). From one to many with the ability to reply to the administrator/ leader but not reply to all. 3) Expand communication (many to many, one to one) 4) Provide a platform for applications to enhance the communications experience (customization, key word triggers, etc.).We have a storeftront, but our approach has been wholesale/ indirect in nature (make others’ directories more successful through mobile). We have dome that through our first partner Olan Mills. Not too many Silicom Valey companies thinking about the church directory business. is their site. Then again, not too many people understood why we needed WhisperNet on the Kindlle (which I led when I was at Sprint).Hope this starts the solutions process. – Jim (soccer coach, Boy Scout Troop Dad, former telecom exec turned entrepreneur)

  22. Trevor Goss

    Hey Fred, I agree with your central thesis here. In my opinion, a lot of the growth in graphs is going to come in the form of applications that support the “discovery” aspect of new friends/acquaintances/etc as opposed to the “reference” aspect of friends you already have. I consider Facebook to be the latter. Each user’s social graph is (mostly) people s/he already knows. But what about people you don’t currently know but would like to or should?I think we’ve mostly mastered the “friend” relationship on the web, but the real opportunity I see going forward is modeling the multitude of graphs that already exist in the real world other than the friend graph. Facebook may help power those graphs through FB Connect, but I don’t see them owning each of them as doing so would contradict their single largest idea that Facebook’s is, at its core, you friends.

  23. zackmansfield

    I have a firm belief that FB won’t be the “one graph to rule them all” – mostly because that’s not how our real world relationships are managed outside of technology/social graph.By this I mean, when we step away from a conversation about tech, we can think about how we manage our own lives. We have hundreds (if not thousands) of relationships of different strengths. This large umbrella includes everything from work acquaintances to our kid’s friends’ parents, to the 5 closest friends who we’d talk to about our hopes and fears.We clearly establish our own implicit rules for dealing with these folks – i.e. we don’t invite a mere acquaintance who we don’t know well or care for that much for a 3 hour dinner party alone with our spouse.To me, FB is becoming the broad umbrella – the big bucket of all friends acquaintances and contacts. For some, this will be uncomfortable – in fact, many may choose to pare this down or get off FB altogether. But because of the ubiquity of the service and ease of connection through FB connect, we will carry this broad umbrella with us.But I agree that our online connections in services like Tumblr, SVPPLY, 4square, etc will often be more “dinner party” than “broad umbrella”. To your point in the post, perhaps this means a “connect” experience that is more curated to phone book or some smaller list rather than FB connect. From a user perspective, this may be advantageous. But at what cost to the service? Probably slower initial growth? Balancing the growth/UX will be key for building meaningful social services.As a final aside…Microsoft may have been undone from continued rocket ship growth due to open source and Internet…yet they continue to dominate OS and threw off $24B in cash flow from ops for TTM ending 6/30/2010…more than prior 3 TTM periods. Facebook could end up having that sort of financial performance with its broad umbrella strategy, even if others do a better job cultivating more meaningful vertical connection strategies.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s a great point zackjust because microsoft doesn’t strike fear in the hearts ofentrepreneurs and investors, it is still a amazing financial successas will google beas will facebook be

    2. vruz

      I have the firm belief that “one size fits all” never works for “all”.More like “one size fits most”And “most” is not as big as some would like to have us believe.It remains to be seen whether Facebook can reach their first billion accounts.They might. But I’m certain they won’t reach 2 billion.There’s still 4 billion people for the taking, *THAT* is “most”.

  24. Michal Illich

    Well – Palm does a similar thing for the last two years. You enter your Facebook credentials and Google Account and LinkedIn and MS Exchange (and few others) and it merges it all into one Contact list. Works quite well.

  25. palbi

    I checked the contact book on my phone after reading the postMaybe it’s just me making a bad job of maintaining it but it’s really a diverse mix of close (friends), useful (work) and purely random (that guy I hired to move from my old apartment)Not sure if it’s feasible (technically and legally) but it’d be awesome if services like Beluga, when they run the query to present the contact to add, prioritized those that you have called/texted recently/often

    1. fredwilson

      kind of what i was talking about in my first post on this topic

  26. Aaron Klein

    You’d have to add some kind of activity filter to my phone address book. It syncs with my contacts and I’m at 1800 right now. (And yes, I did just go through and clean them up, what a pain.)Access to my sent items, my call log, one private twitter list and my Disqus comments would be the only way to intelligently curate who I actually interact with.Something that could reach across those services and gather that data would be very compelling.

  27. BillSeitz

    Yes, I think each user will need a primary/hub AddressBook which integrates their social graphs (including IM buddy list).And, just like you don’t want all your LinkedIn contacts automatically getting Facebook-friended, you’ll want to avoid synching the entire AddressBook to your mobile contact list. (Similar to how, though I can’t keep them *off* my Android phone, I tag contacts online as “Starred in Android”.)Actually, you might want them “on” your mobile device, just invisible to browsing and maybe searching. But available/made-visible when appropriate (e.g. someone you know from Twitter sends you an SMS).

  28. baba12

    If your social network consists of people who share similar values to begin with then you can have a unified social graph.The segregation that now happens in all the individual graphs that Mr.Wilson mentions happens primarily because the people you engage with for business or social reasons are not necessarily sharing the same values you espouse as a individual. I don’t know how many who read this blog would agree with that. I suppose many believe in being connected to person “x” because of a shared interest or faith etc. Personally I think when you associate with people online/offline etc based on interests and or who they are from a economic/social standing you are going to have a multitude social graphs to deal with. So whatever technology mechanisms you have in the end it comes down to whether you are willing to share your network of connections. Segregation worked for a very long time and technology can make an effort to break down those barriers, it comes down to human value(s).The old saying “Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are” still works even when it is technologically updated by use of multitude of social graphs.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      I think in the case of someone like Fred, it’s not a question of values but of different sorts of relationships. Such as these, maybe: – Family and close friends – Partners – Potential future partners – Employees – Potential future employees – Clients – Potential future clients – Portfolio company founders – Potential future portfolio company founders (this category could probably be broken down further into likely candidates, less likely candidates, etc.). – Angels and other pipeline contacts – Professionals of whom USV is a client (attorneys, accountants, bankers, etc.) – Professionals of whom Fred is a personal client (attorney, accountant, financial advisers, etc.) – Acquaintances / non-close friends (people Fred sees once or twice a year in person) – Prominent tech industry contacts (journalists, bloggers, etc.) – Plankton (blog commenters, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, etc., who don’t fit into one of the above categories)Even if everyone in all those categories had the same values, it wouldn’t be appropriate to share all of his info with all of them. As Charlie suggested though, this is probably not a problem for most of the rest of us ‘regulars’. A typical ‘regular’ might just have these categories, with some overlap between the first four: – Family & close friends – Acquaintances – Coworkers – Contacts at potential future employers – Online-only acquaintances

      1. RichardF

        plankton……LMAO…..the truth hurts

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Where would (baleen) whales be without plankton though?

          1. RichardF

            Your right….I’ll remind Fred of that when he cashes out of Twitter.

  29. jfccohen

    I believe the future of the web is all about personalized organization of content. As we create preferences/tags, the web will be delivered to us in the way we want it (email, RSS, etc.) and with the content we want (sports, music, news, entertainment, etc.) – vendors will want to do it as it will yield heightened engagement with target consumers. I see, eventually, a “smart” system that grows with us to get better at this with each interaction (like the API and functionality of LastFM) – not sure who might make this. Though complicated, I’m sure there is a way to assign a value to each social network that overlaps with this personalized magazine of web delivery.In other words, for all things news related, I can get an option to share on my Twitter feed. On all things events related, I can have an option to share with my friends on MeetUp. On all things food related, I can share an entry with my Yelp friends, and so on – I bet phones will eventually create content-centric sharing trees outside of an address book that work like this. The point is, as we sectionalize and aggregate the data WE want (especially on our mobile phones) there ought to be, and can be, a capability that overlaps the relevant content with the relevant social network to make the sharing easier and the interruption more relevant.

  30. Brian Barela

    seems like until an app can look beyond just contacts will this really gain widespread traction.if kik/beluga could look through fb and only populate the top 25-50 people that i interact w regularly on fb, THAT would be amazing.or twitter based on @ replies, RT’s, dms.

  31. Andrew Greene

    It’s kind of amazing that there isn’t innovation in this area from the service providers. If ATT or Verizon actually provided some value-added service for managing contacts, people would hate them a whole lot less. They want to sell bandwidth and content. Why not sell contact services?It would be hard to trust them. The service providers give discounts for sending texts to people on the same network. If they had a similar type of pricing, then users would be unlikely to trust them as a contact/graph manager.

  32. sigmaalgebra

    One point, a question, a partial solution, and a suspicion:Point.For a person’s ‘social graph’, potentially there are many meanings for the links in the graphs and many data sources. So, link meanings can include:For each of e-mail, phone calls, business cards, holiday cards, personal letters, business letters, etc., I sent to and/or received from them.I live on the same street, in the same town, went to the same school or college, worked at the same company, bought from them, sold to them, have sent to/received from them on Facebook or Twitter, posted on the same forum, have a child in the same schools as one of their children, etc.Again, there are many meanings and data sources.Actually, likely data base theory has long been up to the task of managing such data, e.g., with ‘entity, attribute, relationship’ (EAR) modeling implemented in a relational data base. Thus implemented, many queries become routine. Ullman’s book on data base explains EAR and implementing it on relational data base in just a few pages early in the book.Question.Attributed to Mark Twain is:”A sailor without a destination cannot hope for a favorable wind.”Before we go very far working with data from social graphs, we should be more clear on the purposes we have in mind for the results.Partial Solution.For data for my social graphs, much of it I have on my computer now. For phone calls, my ISP has my phone records in a nice form I could easily download. For my e-mail, I have all of that in good form now easy to process.Generally I can do well with data in just some simple format such as comma delimited, but some XML could provide much more.Generally, then, with XML, data sources could easily deliver data on a person’s social graph, and that data could be easy for the person to process.I process such data now mostly with just little one-shot pieces of code in the scripting language ObjectRexx or in the macro language of my favorite text editor. It works well enough for me.Broadly I would suggest: (1) emphasize getting the data as comma-delimited files or in XML, (2) maybe put the data into a relational data base, (3) write little scripts to process the data as desired.Still, to me, the crucial issue about social graphs, social media, and social search is what are the purposes?Suspicion.I do suspect that there are some main, nearly universal purposes for social media, etc. where Facebook, Twitter, etc. are only indirect solutions and where a more direct solution could be more effective. So, being more clear on the purposes seems central.

  33. daryn

    Your mobile address book works for mobile messaging apps, but does it really fit beyond that? And, is it even a discrete data source?Now that I’m on an Android, my mobile address book is my email address book is my gmail contact list is my gtalk contact list. It’s convenient for sure, but it has been a shift mentally from a very small set of people I call/txt to having everyone at my fingertips. I also have entries like local restaurants, email-to-tumblr/other services, jabber bots, etc, which are an artifact of the various media types, not of any relationship status.Any of our various social graphs can be a best fit for a new application/service. What we need is a way to access any of them from anywhere at any time, rather than requiring each app to implement the connections that they think are relevant.It gets back to the global identity discussion that Albert led a few weeks ago. Someone has a big opportunity to be the registry of personal identity and social graph access. The closest I can think of right now is something like JanRain Engage.

    1. smikolay

      I completely agree – with google contacts the phone book has become something else. It used to be every number was deliberately added, meaning you really wanted it there. Now with gmail, people I trade a few messages with are given a spot in my contact list without me thinking about it – very convenient but not very intimate.I wonder whether the telco could step in as well. Who I call, and how often, does provide an insight into my network. Then again, there are lots of relationships that I maintain without phone calls.

    2. fredwilson

      how’s that android thing working for you daryn?

      1. daryn

        I’ve been meaning to write a post.I’m sticking with it for now, and there are definitely things I love,but while the iPhone is a joy to use, the Android feels like a highlyevolved Blackberry.

  34. William Mougayar

    First, a comment on Disqus. I’m not taken away by the new design. It’s ok but doesn’t move the needle for me. I think there are more important features that we can expect from Disqus, many of which were disqussed here previously, e.g. searching the thread, user engagement analytics, etc..The added bio is distracting. If I want to know who is someone, I can hover on their name. It becomes repetitive after a while. OK. we’ll have them memorized, so what.Not sure the light font does anything? What does the flag do? Flag a comment as what? Why not a tooltip on that?Disclaimer: I’m a fan of Disqus, and love it. That’s why I’m being honest. Pls correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      I’m with you, William. And I, too, am an ardent Disqus fan. Okay, you didn’t say ardent.Although, admittedly, I tend not to be an early adopter of design changes and then come around eventually — like the AVC design change — and then a couple of FB’s changes — STILL hate the newest one.Tempted to click on that flag to see if I set off an alarm…but then as my now visible bio reminds me, I do like adventure. πŸ˜‰

      1. fredwilson

        i’m still deciding on the new disqus UI. it’s just a theme. and more themes are coming.but i will say that loyal users almost always hate redesigns at first

        1. Mark Essel

          sticking with the old theme for now.can we css our own themes? I haven’t looked into it, been kinda busy.

          1. fredwilson

            there will be a theme market like tumblr soon

        2. Donna Brewington White

          Isn’t it interesting how true this is even for people who as a general rule thrive on change?Which I would think represents a lot of the people who are drawn to AVC (me included)…

  35. Sung Yoon Lim

    Hey Fred. I’m James Lim. I’m an entrepreneur located in Korea. I just wanted to give you a quick note about Korean SNS landscape. There is a new mobile app called KaKao Talk. It is a mobile messaging / group messaging app that utilizes mobile phone address book and it has become really popular in Korea with almost 7~80% of smartphone users using them. The app is recently ranked number 1 in Hong-Kong and in some mid eastern countries. As you may know, Korea is one of the first countries to have a successful social graph service, cyworld, way before Facebook. Cyworld’s dominance was really great that even Twitter and Facebook are finding it hard to become mainstream. However, KaKao Talk really exploded and I think it matches what you said about Facebook and mobile. KaKao Talk is made by one of the founders of Naver, Korea’s largest portal and search engine. It also now applies virtual gifts or digital coupon gifts for its revenue model. The revenue model is still in its infancy. I hope this info helps.

  36. whitneymcn

    My phone book reveals more about my close ties than I really want to think about: just doing a quick scan it includes our plumber, four babysitters, and two contractors. Interestingly, it also includes a 631 (eastern Long Island) number that’s identified only as “Lobster.”

    1. fredwilson

      I want to be friends with lobster

      1. RichardF

        I wonder if his first name is Rock

    2. Stevefredette

      My phone book includes 3 cab companies, my landlord, my electric company, my dentist, my doctor, my travel agent, a real estate agent, 4 restaurants, my wedding caterer, and a random assortment of people from my past.

      1. fredwilson

        mine toothat’s a social net toojust not facebook

  37. @BethSchoenfeldt

    I agree that it is all sorting itself out—as a user I have been observing myself figuring it out by the actions I have been taking. I know I am only one person in the huge sea, but here is what I have been doing.–Unfriending like crazy on Facebook and moving those contacts to LinkedIn (down from 1400 to less than 800 and still working on reducing it further), I have decided that FB will be for my “real” friends who would actually care to see pictures of my child. I do not want to shop on FB ever, I do not want to conduct business on FB and I don’t want to promote anything on FB–LinkedIn (I call my old new friend) is more overall collection of business contacts– my number of contacts on this platform is rapidly going up, I use it to research people and have joined some groups–Droid Incredible—now all my Google contacts, email and calendar on my phone—love–Twitter—that is where I go for any latest breaking news and to see what deals are happening, build my “personal brand” and promote things I care about–Tumblr–having a lot of fun with it, but not sure I how it will be as a “connecting” type tool—I see it as an extension of Twitter, can write more than the 140 characters but linked to Twitter–Hashable—I like it, and I see it as sort of a Foursquare for people and connections–not sure where it will fit in yet–Foursquare–don’t use it, freaks me out to think people will know where I am (and where I am not)–Honestly, Now–just started using, can see as a tool to get immediate response to a question from a close group of friends–Quora–too overwhelming for me to be in there and commenting, but could see as a wikipedia type toolSo overall in my own personal universe I see the decline of Facebook and an ascent in Google, Twitter—and weirdly, LinkedIn

    1. Tereza

      Thrilled to be part of your toolkit! THANKS Beth!!!!You made my day.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      What a great summary, Beth.It’s amazing how much I resonate with your usage of the different platforms. LinkedIn has become a much more prominent player for me recently as well.But I must say that Quora has been quite interesting. It can be a great place to build a personal brand with even more engagement than Twitter allows. I find myself getting drawn into the info and ideas exchange and have also formed some great connections there — and that wasn’t my original intent. I even added my Quora address to my newest biz card.I am also an Honestly Now fan but I’ve got to get some more of my friends over there.I’m intrigued by Hashable even though I haven’t gotten fully into the swing with it — although I am going to a party they are hosting this week. Nice move on their part.

  38. Karamdeep Nijjar

    I think the real value isn’t just in creating the graph, but shortening and lengthening the edges based on the level of interactions that exist between the two nodes. For example, a mobile app could monitor how often I message a particular contact, and then create some rules around that such that if that same contact was to attempt to call me, it would be treated differently than someone whom I have a limited level of regular contact with (i.e. I don’t mind being interrupted during the day if the call is from my best friend, but I don’t really need to hear from a casual acquaintance who has nothing better to do than to talk my ear off). My real social network these days is found on my BBM, it is by far the number one method of communicating with my friends, sharing photos and links. I’d much rather stay up to date on what those 50 people are doing as opposed to the 500 people who populate my Facebook news feed. Once you have that graph, you can build a tonne of other functionality on top of it, and make it truly useful for the end user across a variety of verticals. I think Kik is taking the right approach to this, starting off with a minimally viable product that appeals to a huge cross section of the population, and then leaving the door open to add features as it grows. It’s a lot easier to get 10 million users on a messaging app and then build Foursquare-like features on top of it than it is to try to push people on to those platforms right away.

  39. William Mougayar

    I think that Mobile is only one window into the social graph(s). It’s not the only one. My iPhone Contacts book is not what defines my Social Graph, at least not in the way that Kik or Beluga grabs it. A lot more filtering needs to be done. Kik added some contacts I had which I don’t want to be having real-time impromptu chats with.I think Mobile is a good social graph consumption method, but not necessarily where you set-up your preferences in the way you explained you wanted them in Part I. I’m imagining we need better “instrumentation” (as John Battelle calls it), and that’s closer to a Friend’s CRM where you slice and dice, add and substract, tag and organize.Sure you can look at the social graph by social network (LinkedIn, FB, Twitter, Foursquare, etc.) but another cut is by Interests. So, I’m a foodie snob and take recommendations seriously only from those I know are at my caliber and have had the experiences I’ve had. I don’t know 90% of these people and certainly not well enough to have them entered in my Contacts database. I know who some of them are because I interact with them on forums such as Chow, Opinionated, etc.. So, here are 2 challenges that need solving: 1) how do I make these people part of my “Food social graph”, 2) how do I query my existing Social Networks to find out if there are other friends that are foodies I might like to know about?

    1. Guest

      I feel like Facebook *could* do this. It’s apparent that brute force doesn’t work (tagging 600 friends is a pain in the ass). Tagging friends when I add them is also a pain, because what if I want to add a new interest group? Now I have to go back and tag everyone.Interests should be implicit by the content I share. The fact that I love 80’s music should be apparent by the frequent music videos I post. The fact that someone always checks in at sushi places should make it apparent that they’re a sushi buff.I feel like that sort of information could be mined. In fact, Facebook could notify me an ask me to confirm my interest in a topic it “detects.” That’d be sweet.

      1. William Mougayar

        Good thoughts & ideas.But I don’t want Facebook (or any social network) to profess they can “manage” my social graph. As Fred implied, I want to manage my own social graph, independently from these social networks. Social networks can “inform” my Social Graph Management Tool, and vice-versa I want to direct my Social Networks for things I may want from it.Side note: “The fact that someone always checks in at sushi places should make it apparent that they’re a sushi buff.” Yes, but only if these sushi places are top tier places. Segmenting the social graph is tricky, but it’s required for precision and results satisfaction.I predict it’s going to be a long road before we get to the perfect way of managing social graphs.

        1. Guest

          I agree regarding Facebook, but I don’t think we’ll have to worry about them doing that anytime soon πŸ˜‰

      2. Alan Morrison

        >Facebook could notify me an ask me to confirm my interest in a topic it “detects.”Exactly. There’s enough logic derived from watching how the the social graph and the knowledge surrounding it evolves that manual tagging won’t be essential. But I do want the graph to infer my interests and suggest dotted line connections.

        1. Guest

          Agree – I don’t want it to automatically apply this information, just find it and let me decide if it’s appropriate.

    2. Alan Morrison

      There should be a solid-line social graph (people you are acquainted with) and a dotted-line social graph (people you’re not acquainted with, but maybe should be, because there’s an evident common interest). Facebook gets at the first, and Twitter at the second, but neither goes beyond the first step to a true, semantically rich social graph, one that can be properly linked at the data layer.

  40. Borisfowler

    I love technology. If you ask my girlfriend something about me, she’ll say “He loves Dave Matthews Band and technology”. But at some point we need to be able to get away from it all. I have found that having a cell phone with me all the time and constantly being on the internet makes me less productive sometime because of the constant distraction.That being said, I think technology has so much to offer us, but it will be on us to determine how much is enough. All things in moderation, right?

  41. andybryant

    And that’s exactly why I think Google still has a hope in social media. They’ve got the most valuable bit of your social graph – the people you call and text on a daily basis – from your Android phone. I posted about this a couple of months back here –



    1. Tereza

      Hey Fake Grimlock, has anyone tried to set you up with Feminist Hulk?If they haven’t I’ll be your Yenta. I think the sparks would fly.An example: “HULK HEART CHANGE. HULK NUZZLE BIG GREEN FACE IN CHANGE. PASSERS BY GIVE HULK FUNNY LOOKS. HULK OK WITH THAT.”



        1. Tereza

          i may know someone, pink and shiny. she whispers, though. lower case all the that a problem?

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            PICS PLZ, K THX.

          2. fredwilson

            this community has gone nutsi like it

          3. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          4. fredwilson

            shaken not stirred

          5. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    2. vruz




  43. nicolaerusan

    Hey Fred – I was doing some thinking on this from an Economics and Computer Science perspective as well. Who should know who? What is the best organization of social networks in order to maximize economic productivity, or happiness, or whatever it is we want to maximize :). I’ve got no answers, but I think it can be useful to abstractly formulate the problem just to see what comes out of the exercise:http://nicolaerusan.tumblr….We’re trying to figure out exactly what a ‘new’ social graph means for our curation startup: The Shared Web:

  44. Tereza

    Interesting observation and we agree — bc we’re working this issue with Honestly Now too. Our easiest/fastest way to invite is thru the mobile address books via iPhone and Android apps.However I’ll also say it’s hard to get things going early when you rely on the app to scan your address book for people who are already in the network.An example — when I read this I downloaded Kik and Beluga and ran their address book searchs. But neither found any overlap with the 2000+ names in my iPhone contact list. WTF?!This of course happened early for me with Foursquare and other services too. LOL — i have to beg Fred and you guys to Friend me so I can get a feel for a service because of no overlap.So I guess it could be useful to help existing members find each other. but expanding the network — the ‘search your address book’ doesn’t deliver that and both of these apps then prompt you to invite + message to new people via FB, Twitter + E-mail. So I don’t see that as exactly breakthrough.A smart mobile-address-book-app needs to intelligently offer up names from the phone that are highly likely to matter to you so that you organically and authentically invite them in and not spam them. Your most called and most emailed people may be the place to start…Meanwhile I think a laser-focused influencer program is another critical piece.We’ll shortly be testing an additional method, will be ready soon. Will be eager to have folks kick the tires. So peeps lemme know if you want to try.

  45. John

    Certainly I agree that I have “strong ties” with most of my phone contacts. However, I disagree with your assumption that I would want most of those people in the many social graphs that I curate. I can’t believe I’m the only one that has more than one “online personality.” I find real value in having different personalities based on the places I visit and the task I’m doing. I think others likely do the same.

  46. Namek Zubi

    Hi Fred – I see what you are saying but I still think Facebook has a shot at becoming a universal social graph IF they are more open and give users (active users..) the tools they need to USE it as a universal social graph. My “FB network” has everyone from my really close friends, to people I grew up with but haven’t seen in 10 years, to people I play sports with, to the random friend you meet at a (i’ll stop there…). Some FB users are reluctant to add or accept anyone as friend but FB is providing the privacy and security tools needed (debateable again) whereby users are slightly more comfortable adding people to their universal social graph making this a “everyone you could possibly know” graph. Question is how do you dig down from this huge set of people.An example of a tool that would help FB users differentiate their friends (not that silly “Groups” feature…) is an ability to “tag” all of their “FB friends” into specific categories..but I am saying ACTIONABLE tags over here…i.e. I tag Fred Wilson as a “mobile” friend and hence only Fred is added to my mobile messaging app vs. the 1000 users (on related note facebook should work on a real-time mobile to mobile messaging app..much quicker than what they already have). If I tag John as a “Interest” friend, then I should have the ability to limit any posts on my FB home page to John’s posts hence creating a mini “interest graph” within FB..Now, what if such tagging of “everyone you could possibly know” flowed over to other services to become “Everyone you want to know on Foresquare, Boxee etc”….probably won’t happen as most see “competition” vs. “collaboration”Just a quick morning thought Fred

  47. Luis Pereira

    The key to effectively manage our social graph will certainly require some effort on our part. The incentive should be to create a relevant social sharing experience for everyone in our social circle. What may be interesting to grandma may not be so interesting to your buddies. We are currently working on this problem.

  48. leigh

    eek – my email address book is so outdated (i just keep synching it over time and almost never actively manage it) that it is the furthest thing away from a relevant social graph. maybe if it was only my recently called….but besides, my social graph weak ties are as important in different ways than my strong ties. As you said it before, twitter different than facebook different than my phone contact. It’s my ability to tag or add relevance to people that will give me the greatest value over time (Zemanta for your social graph perhaps?)

  49. Mark David Blafkin

    Strangely enough, the one company that ALREADY agrees fully with your vision and is delivering product is Microsoft. Not sure if you’ve spent any time with Windows Phone 7, but that is EXACTLY the vision they seem to be pursuing. The center of the OS is the your phone list and it’s built to integrate with social graphs from Facebook and other social services. Obviously, Microsoft isn’t there yet, but they appear to have the right engineering philosophy to enable themselves and application developers to build the mobile uber-social graph.

    1. fredwilson

      i guess i have to get a windows 7 phonewhat one would you suggest i get?

      1. Mark David Blafkin

        The Samsung Focus or the HTC HD7 are good options. I’m not ready to give up my IPhone 4 yet, but the user-centric design philosophy of WinPhone7 is pretty impressive. If only they had hardware partners with the industrial design philosophy of Apple πŸ˜‰

        1. fredwilson

          blogged about this conversation today…

  50. Twain Liu

    A more optimal construct than the Social Graph will be CONTEXT SPHERES.These will not be bound by the 2-dimensional way in which current social media companies like Facebook and FourSquare capture, slice and dice our information (1st dimension = demographic, 2nd dimension = location). Instead, the data will be portable, richer than the usual gender / profession / status update / age group etc which has informed market surveys since the 1950s, and monetization of this data will be a two-way street between some “Double Dutch” symbiosis between the company and the co-creator.The co-creator (that would be us, the masses, the consumers) own that contextual non-demographic-non-location-related data and we share it with companies according to a reward exchange.I don’t see that mobile phone contacts will generate social graphs that add a dimension beyond demographics and location, so while I’d agree that we might infer stronger ties from mobile phone book contacts compared with FB / LinkedIn / Twitter followers they still don’t take us towards knowing HOW, WHY, WHEN and to WHAT EXTENT these relationships matter.As others have noted here, our doctors / plumbers / caterers / etc. are in our mobile contacts.Within the context sphere of: “I’d like to buy something chic for my mother’s birthday”, the mobile social graph including the doctor-plumber-caterer is unlikely to surface a suitable personal recommendation for my question.

  51. Denim Smith

    A couple of high-level observations – apologies in advance for the length:1- we’re human and we don’t think in terms of social graphs, regardless of the next cool technology platform, interest network, hardware, software, gimmick, or break-through. No one talks in terms of ‘social graphs’ or what devices and/or platforms house them. When people want to communicate and share they go to, or join, where their contacts live and disseminate or discover based on the item/ topic/ intent at that moment (mobile, FB, Twitter, etc). Relationships are just that – relative relations – they’re created naturally and change in time (because we all do) and are not based on interests or social graphs as much as our individual circumstances and how we interact with others’ circumstances through time and space. Sometimes you just have an interest in a ‘person’ or someone’s life who may not share a specific topical interest with you at all. Many peoples’ most intimate relationships were fostered in person because of the family, geographical limitations, interests, and any and all circumstances as they came of age (schools, neighborhood, community activities – little league) and/or because of a pre-defined relationship in space and time (can’t choose your family or who was in your first grade class or freshman dorm floor or that you would be introduced to your future wife, through a friend).2 – To me, FB is a house of cards. It became the ‘place’ where everyone was although this is not how it started. Recall FB grew so far so fast because the college’s joined an exclusive network to submerge in college life, then recent grads looking to connect with college friends after dispersing across the continent or globe, then high school students going off to college, then boomer’s who had zero ability to find old long lost friends. The first FB generation had their parents join, and even Uncle Ben’s Rice showed up (huh?), and I observed a quieting effect – save for social media experts and commercial uses that flash on every TV ad. But within 5 years time, will the next generation join their *parents* social network? Or will, like most generations have and will always do, create their own place to ‘hang out’ where all the cool kids are? A place that speaks to them and their views of the world, their interests, their passions, their lives in the moment? In other words, there’s a reason they’re called a GENERATION. And all of their friends join, who btw will still be within arms reach of them living face-to-face. Just ask GeoCities, MySpace, etc.3- If anything, I view my ‘social graphs’ as individual walled gardens. I start intimate and work my way through outer rings of intimacy and based on my finite amount of time. First is my immediate family, including my closest and longtime friends (note these groups have very different tastes and interests and form very distinct ‘social graphs’ even despite me classifying them together in these intimate buckets) and we all have these – and we all probably have very different ways of communicating with them – with the most important being the intent to be physically with them and spend and share our most precious perishing resource with them — our time/ our life. Next are extended family and friends I care about, who my intimate relationships care about, who I do fun things with and share my time with. Next are friends, co-workers, acquaintances and specific interest groups – which are probably captured across more than one interest and ring. There’s also sharing the content of my life, with people who I care for and who care about me, and there’s curating and sharing the content of my interests (typically not created by me). There’s a reason why your close friends and family ask about things they aren’t actively participating or β€˜interested’ in – because they have a real human interest in you, your well being and happiness, genuinely, without the need for technology and for decades and lifetimes – regardless of the app du jour. And we don’t need a ‘Love’ button. I am working on a product that starts intimate, and grows outward. Why? Because when all is said and done, my life is not defined by my interest in sports, technology, movies, etc. it is defined by how I live my life with the relationships that are most meaningful to me. My life is precisely how I spend my time. Priorities change with life circumstances, and I for one am living my life with the people who give me a life worth living. Everything else is noise, which I don’t mean as a bad thing, because rock n’ roll was considered noise at one point before the critics heard a song or band they genuinely felt. Today’s tech talk often leaves out emotion and I am going to try and change it. So, should I call it an emotional graph? No way. Its multidimensional and its called real life…and you can’t graph it, box it, and wrap it up nicely and apply it to everyone.

    1. fredwilson

      hard problem to solve but a good place to be working

      1. Denim Smith

        Thanks, Fred! Hard = fun. Hard = rewarding. not game changing, life changing.

  52. Mo Koyfman

    i’ve been thinking about this topic obsessively as well.a few thoughts:mobile is the new frontier. if anything can take down FB, it’s that.i also think tumblr better get deeper on mobile quickly before they lose out…along with many web-based social services for that matter….i agree that the phone should own the most valuable core network — people you *actually* communicate with.but my address book is littered with contacts i’ve collected over the years that i *never* want to communicate with.i keep them in there just as a matter of record so i can verify whether and how i met someone before…and because cleaning them out is a pain in the ass.i think the answer here is some really smart filter that takes into account my various social networks (kind of like what you were looking for in the post last week where you referenced svpply) overlayed against my address book to determine relevance.but i certainly don’t have all the answers here yet.what i do know is that mobile is the future and suffice it to say, i am obsessively focused on trying to figure it out by playing with it, thinking about it and all else that we do.this will be a meaty topic for some time…and i look forward to that…

    1. fredwilson

      yup, if all the social nets are on the phone and connected to the address book and can read/write to it, then the magic can happen

      1. fredwilson

        also agree about tumblr

  53. paramendra

    Facebook did not create the social graph, it has merely tried to map it. Ends up there are many social graphs. That is intuitive. What is techie is your (and many people’s) insight that mobile is a new ball game, red hot. Facebook might end up the operating system of social graphs, in the background, not that active. …. Wait, this is a blog post for me! πŸ™‚

  54. Terry J. Leach

    If I am following Freds logic correctly the new technology that might undue Facebook dominance is mobile and Android will potentially dominate mobile platforms. Android store contacts in Google contacts. So Google is not dead in the social networking space as many people have proclaimed.

  55. floozyspeak

    FB should be called acquaintance-book. Since its inception it wasn’t truly designed to be an accurate representation of your inner click. In the early days of add your highschool and we’ll just connect all these people you could give crap about to you- thats not a model that really cared about making an accurate graph, its a model that wanted you to inform/advert to others regardless if you cared about them.The address book in my phone is a little better but I don’t really talk a ton on the phone any more.Yanking it out of my gmail/email service, another attempt to figure me out, again, specific to current/time/context moments, you’re still leaving data on the table.Twitter is a better version FB friendage IF, and ONLY if you’re true to yourself in what you can follow/friend-wise and consume. I’m not gonna friend a brand any time soon regardless to being loyal to their product or service. I built ChumpDump as a parody of the current friend obsession scene that we all know is laugh. Funny enough, people really find it useful.A true social graph should reflect a strong bond of meaning, context whatever it can find, and probe or speculate on the intent and understanding of those connections. Pulling a score of influence out of that, have at it if you like, though most of that is a 50/50 in truly being applicable in all instances.

    1. fredwilson

      “acquaintance book”that’s great but it is a mouthfulotherwise i’d use that term for them going forwardi actually culled my FB about 2 years ago and applied the “weddings and bar mitzvahs rule”the only people i am friends with in FB are people i’d invite to a family wedding or bar mitzvah

  56. Lloyd Fassett

    I think the thing that’s missing is that other types of graphs are emerging. Social graph is fine for social things. Facebook like approaches are utiliity like a collegiate facebook. Svpply and Goodreads (though you didn’t mention them) are more about group curation – not social graph. It’s something else and it needs another word.The connective tissue in those cases is design, or a book. The book is between me and someone else. In social networking a person is between me and the book. There needs to be a different set of rules for ‘friending’ because at the atomic level, it’s different than who you actually know. That world is 10X over my social graph and more exciting.I think you’re already invested in an eastern european company that has way of suggesting content that matches a blog post and that kind of approaches that. Connecting social circles makes the world smaller because we share a data set of experiences. The best solution to a lot of types of problems is frequently lies outside that circle. You get that by bringing together a large amount of data and finding out how it’s connected For design and for books, humans are the algorithm to do the grouping and will be for a long time.It’s not social networking, it’s the secret life of things. The connective tissue is a different type than my friends, or who is in my cell phone. Except of course the example of the Lobster on Long Island in the comments, which actually emphasizes my point anyway. That’s why there isn’t going to be one ring to rule them all.

    1. fredwilson

      i agree lloyd

  57. Dave W Baldwin

    For what its worth, don’t get trapped in the box. As mentioned by Denim, Facebook did the first round with families followed by everyone you went to HS with. The shelf life for Facebook as it stands is not that long.Let’s say you had another social graph that included however many folks and you found out your kid/mom/bf also used it…it’s ability in sharing data is every bit as good as Fbook. Would you keep using Fbook for your kid/mom/bf just because it is Fbook? If this other social graph became your default, you’d move them to it….simple.What will win in the end is a real ‘organizer’ that determines the placement (in your device) of everyone which brings us to people you meet on the fly.Funny thing is the team that could do something like this, isn’t even worried about whether Fbook is to be the ‘universal’ graph or not.

  58. MParekh

    Great idea Fred, but it assumes that the mainstream keep their “strong ties” address book from their Feature Phones as they transition to Smartphones.Since most Smartphones, offer easy sync services with one’s contacts in Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc., one quickly gets a much larger, “synced” address book, with a whole mess of strong and weak tie contacts.Keeping the the Strong ties separate becomes an increasingly onerous, non-automated chore, likely leading most mainstream users to just do their best with a big, blob address book in the cloud.Hopefully there’ll be services that begin to solve this problem.

    1. lance

      I agree with your premise that the assumption of strong ties on a smart phone is not valid. I have had some version of a PIM or smartphone for over ten years. My address book as over 2,300 contacts which is far more than my connections on any social network. I would venture to say that my contacts on my social networks are much stronger then those in my address book.

  59. Mason Levey

    Has anyone seen a service that maps similarities between two users via multiple social graphs. Example Fred and I both use Svpply, 4sq, twitter, etc. I would like to see from those networks the users we have in common. You both follow, friends with, followed by: X,Y and Z.

    1. fredwilson

      cool idea

      1. Guest

        Thanks Fred. I agree. I might flesh the idea out and go after it on my free time. If it gains traction, I will send you an email to further chat.P.S. Speaking of “similarities” – I’m good buddies with Jeff Leventhal. :)-Mason

  60. Chad Stark

    Great article. I’m trying to tackle this issue right now with a unique approach. Glad to know others see the problem. Thanks!

  61. MyATM Holdings

    This is such a great article and thanks for sharing your ideas. Cheers!

  62. Dave Pinsen

    What is Jawaya, in a nutshell?

  63. kidmercury

    damn people, charlie crystle droppin some serious truth! respect!people need to feel uncomfortable. growth is not a vacation.

  64. Matt A. Myers

    Edited? Email me what you removed? Curious about the truth kid’s giving you props for. πŸ™‚

  65. Guest

    I signed up. Don’t let me down Charlie! πŸ˜€

  66. kidmercury

    no doubt. twitter is really at the forefront of a lot of these issues.

  67. Matt A. Myers

    A “real” United Nations needs to be the protector of such a web, where no government has influence on its ability to communicate and share.

  68. fredwilson