The Implicit Social Graph
John Battelle wrote a gushing post about Color and what it means for mobile/social/local/realtime, augmented reality, and more. There are most certainly some big ideas in the Color app. I've never put a mobile photo app on my phone but I put Color on it last night. I don't have any of my family on Color yet, but I hope to get them all on it today (I'm on spring break with my family and some of our kids' friends). Then we'll see what all the buzz is about.
Regular vistors to AVC know that I am in the "many social graphs" camp and most certainly not in the "one graph to rule them all" camp. I believe we will have at least dozens of social graphs in our lives. But even more, I believe that we will have social graphs that come and go and that are formed implicitly not explicitly.
My first experience with this sort of implicit social graph came almost six years ago via my musical neighbors graph at last.fm. I don't think I actually know any of these people in real life, but they are the last.fm users who have the closest taste to mine in music, right now. That right now is important because my musical neighbors graph looked differently last year and will look differently next year.
Last.fm uses my listening history to create an implicit social graph in real time. Color uses my location to do the same for photo sharing. There are a bunch of social news discovery services out there that use my current reading history to determine a "news/interest graph" implicitly in real time.
This is the next frontier in social networking for a bunch of reasons. First, curating social graphs is a pain. It takes work. And simply importing your Facebook or Twitter graph is suboptimal for most social services. You then need to add and delete to get the right graph for the right app. And second graphs change over time. Who has time to constantly manage their social graphs. So they get stale and one day you say "why I am following this person?" or "why is this person a friend on Facebook?" And maybe most imporantly, sometimes you only want a social graph for a weekend, a day, an hour, or a minute. The only way to make that work is to construct it implicitly.
So I don't know if Color will turn out to be a big deal or not. I don't care that they raised $41mm. Seems like most anyone can do that these days. But I do care that they are pushing the envelope in social graph construction in an important direction. That's why Color is on my phone this morning and why I'm going to get my wife and my kids and their friends on it today and see what happens.