Posts from social graph

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 I don't think I actually know any of these people in real life, but they are the 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. 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.


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.


Building Better Social Graphs

I'll say right upfront that this may be a feature that many people don't need. But I need it so I thought I'd post it anyway.

As software becomes social, the creation of the social graph on each web service becomes a chore. I do not believe that you simply want to port your social graph from Facebook and Twitter into new web services. I believe you want to curate the social graph for each and every web service. And that's how I try to do it on each new social web service I encounter.

The people I want to follow on Etsy are not the same people I want to follow on Twitter. The people I want to follow on Svpply are not my Facebook friends. I don't want to share my Foursquare checkins with everyone on Twitter and Facebook.

I am slowly but surely building social graphs on Etsy, Svpply, and Foursquare (and many other services but I thought I would focus on these three for this post). Each service has a slightly different relationship model. On Etsy, you join circles. I am in almost 100 circles on Etsy, some of which I would like to join back. Svpply uses the Twitter follow model, and close to 100 people are following me, some of which I'd like to follow back. Foursquare uses the Facebook model and there are 3815 friend requests for me there. I am sure there are a bunch of people in the 3815 that I'd like to share my checkins with.

So here is the feature I want. I would like to be able to run these people through all my social graphs on other services (not just Facebook and Twitter) and also my phone contacts and my emails to help me filter them and quickly add those people if I think they would make the social experience on the specific service useful to me.

I don't want to get emailed everytime someone follows me or friends me. I'd like each service to build up a list of relationships and let me query that list against other social graphs. I think that would be a much more efficient way to build social graphs.

I do add people myself. I use Twitter's Who To Follow service to build my Twitter social graph. I join circles in Etsy when I see a seller who has a store I like. I follow people on Svpply when I see something they added that I like.

But the more people you have in your social graphs on these services, the more valuable they become. So making it easier to curate application specific social graphs is a big part of making the services more social and richer experiences for all of us.