Sunday, September 23, 2007

Facebook’s plateuing graph

When I started reading about the ‘social graph’ I was one of those embarrassed people who didn’t get it but later I was mighty relieved to find I was not alone and it took some elite bloggers to come out and say it and bring smalltime bloggers like this writer to shore. In short, they meant this :

- The “Social Graph” is nothing but Mark Zucekrberg’s idea to coin a cool marketing phrase, pitch it to the lazy mainstream media,making Facebook look different from the likes of Myspace.

- It went along nicely with Mark’s routine to ‘copy’ the best practices of certain brands. His penchant to ape Steve Jobs is well documented now.

Hopefully, someday, someone will write the definitive book on the smart things technology entrepreneurs do to market their offerings and tactics they employ to crush rivals – and no, I am not talking about Microsoft alone.

Now, coming back to the hyped ‘Social Graph” idea which never caught on.

Nick Carr, as good a tech seer as they come, says this about the ‘mathematical’ phrase,

I tried to ignore the term "social graph" when it first started popping up a few weeks ago. For one thing, it sounded like some sort of embarrassing disease; for another, the idea of having to figure out some arcane new Web 2.0 term was depressing. But the term - or is it a meme? - kept on proliferating, so last week I tried to figure out what it meant. The definitions I found, explicit or implicit, seemed to indicate that a social graph was all the connections between people in a community or, alternatively, all the connections that one person in a community had with all other people. Why is this a "graph," I wondered to myself sheepishly, and what's the difference between a "social graph" and a "social network"? Clearly, I didn't "get it." The shame was intense.

Thankfully for Nick and many others, and this writer, Dave Winer came forward and kicked the phrase where it hurt most.

Calling all copy editors to ‘just change "social graph" to "social network"’ because ‘Social Network” was a much clearer description and less geeky and annoying to everyone, Dave says,

...before we talked about social graphs we called them social networks, and you know what -- they're exactly the same thing, and social network is a much less confusing term, so why don't we just stick with it? (Answer: we should, imho.) So if you don't want to sound like an idiot, call a social graph a social network and stand up for your right to understand technology, and make the techies actually do some useful stuff instead of making simple stuff sound complicated.

Josh Catone, who writes on the popular Readwriteweb blog also thinks “social graph” is a tired idea and “social network” was always better.

I think you should read the above bloggers in detail and the comment sections provide entertaining nuggets of opinion on the matter. For example, here.

Like most startups with billions twinkling in their youthful eyes, the Facebook management team is also inspired by Google and they thought the “social graph” was a worthy option to “pagerank”.

However, Pagerank has become the unofficial arbiter of the value of the currency of links on the web, and links are the original networks on the web.

You cannot say the same about ‘social graph”, the utility of which was never realized despite all that marketese and some die-hard silicon valley “Rising Star” Riders/bloggers – people who hoped to benefit from Facebook’s rise.

Coming November 5 2007, Google will hopefully launch the first version of its response to the challenge provided by social networks, and I think the network value in Gmail, Gtalk, Google Reader, Google Personal Start Page followed by a whole range of Google offerings, will be realized in a steady fashion, all these tools being productive tools, with huge potential of actionable intelligence on hand.

Then, we will see how the redundant, so-far unproductive “social graph” faces up to the barrage of “social networks” of so many useful applications.

And I wonder how long before an A-list blogger disses the Facebook Developer Platform and all that “Creating Internet within Internet” as 100% pure B.S.

Related Reading
Email is so in
A Listers begin to see Facebook in new light

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At 2:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aren't you being a little too modest calling yourself a small-time blogger?


At 10:01 PM , Blogger Tish Grier said...

Hi know, the idea of "social graph" wouldn't be all that egregious if it wasn't being promoted as a synonym for "social media." If it were simply to explain the mathematical end of this for a specific purpose, then it would be fine. but it's not. And there are some of us who get that in our guts, so to say.

At 3:11 PM , Blogger Pramit Singh said...

You are right there Trish.

The term "social graph" is redundant when we already have so many better ways to describe with our social activities online - social media, social networking...but a company hijacking the idea and coming up with its own spin was maybe a bit too much .

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