Posts about social

The internet is the social network

Google has released a social-graph API, which in theory — though, unfortunately, not in practice — is what the internet is all about: relationships and connections.

I’ve said it before:

The internet doesn’t need more social networks. The internet is the social network. We have our identities, interests, reputations, relationships, information, and lives here, and we’re adding more every day. The network enabler that manages to help us tie these together to find not just connections or email addresses or information or songs but people — friends, colleagues, teachers, students, partners, lovers — across this open world, that will be the owner of the biggest network of them all: The Google of people.

So with its social-graph API, is Google trying to become the Google of people (or beat Facebook to it)? Yes, but the problem is that this relies on explicit, semantic links we just don’t use. It wants us to include rel= links when we link to someone defining the relationship. I just don’t see that happening. Sometime ago, the semantic folks wanted us to put vote links in (marking them as positive or negative); it never took off.

Here’s Brad Fitzpatrick of Google explaining the API:

I believe the killer social graph app will be the one that sniffs and understands our relationships without our having to take explicit action or by exploiting the actions we take for different reasons. Facebook exists to help us organize our friendships and in the process of doing that, it knows who are friends are (unless you’re one of those who befriends everyone). When I take pictures of people on Flickr or Facebook and they get tagged, it must mean I was there with them. When I tag them, it must mean I know them. When people follow me on Twitter — and vice versa — a relationship of mutual interest is defined. When I join a group at Facebook or Yahoo, another relationship of interest is there. When I go to a MeetUp with someone, both interest and physical meeting are established. When I link to someone’s blog, that, too, defines a relationship and the definition becomes only more explicit if we know who writes that blog and whether they have any other relationship with me. On my blog, I want to link you to the other things I do online, my other identities, and I can do that through ClaimID. Witness:

My claimID jeff jarvis

When you put all those relationships together with my identity and the actions among us, you start to draw the real social graph, the true social network that is the internet.

OK, so what? What benefit is that to me or anyone else? Well, it’s another way to visualize and manage my relationships. We can layer on this content and memes and see where they start and how they spread and that starts to define leadership and curiosity and credibility.

The internet is less about content than relationships and teh true social graph will show us those relationships.

DLD: Social & worldwide Facebook

At a Day 2 starts with the session on social: Matt Cohler of Facebook, Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, Lars Hinrichs, Joanna Shields of Bebo.

Cohler announces that Facebook’s multilingual translation is in private beta as of Friday in French, German, and Spanish and will be released soon. Had discussions last night at a Munich blogger meetup about whether Facebook will make inroads in Germany. StudieVZ is the killer social site here; it concentrates primarily on students but it has the long headstart and it is local. Social is, after all, essentially local. Cohler says that Facebook’s internationalization depends on both the translation and on developers making local applications on the platform. He also says that though they will translate some of Facebook with professional translators, they will depend instead on a translation application — that’s what went into beta Friday — that enables the users to translate the service: translation as a platform play. That is a fascinating strategy: giving your users the tools to rebuild your application.

Before Facebook opened up past colleges, it was almost all American. Now, Cohler says, it’s 37% U.S. and a third European.

The econ editor of FAZ, a leading German paper, asks Cohler to expand on their international ambitions and whetehr they’ll buy StudieVZ. Of course, he doesn’t take that bait. But asked about whether they’d see acquiring some social networks in Europe, Cohler says “it’s certainly possible.”

Michael Arrington asks about the impact of Yahoo’s announcements at CES about social email and such. Sean Parker says the switching costs are enormous. Yes, I wouldn’t bet on this as Yahoo’s salvation (given that they’re making tough decisions, as PaidContent reports).

The social corporation

Burda is the most social corporation I know. That’s no doubt because its chairman, Huburt Burda, loves people and playing host to them. I’ve been to dinners and parties from New York to Davos where he and his lieutenants bring together incredibly diverse and interesting bunches of people. They’ve just brought 1,000 people to Munich for their conference. I’ve seen that being a gracious host pay dividends to Burda. They bring in new ideas and talent and relationships. Most companies I know are not at all social. They live in their own buildings and worlds. Not just people are becoming more social. Companies must become social.

Friendship

Here’s my Guardian column this week, a much shorter and more cogent version of this post about changes in friendship brought on by the social web.

Teaching politicians to be friends

Facebook is holding seminars in D.C. next week to teach politicos how to use the social network:

oin the Facebook Politics Team and Special Guests in a lively seminar about how Facebook and social media can be an integral part of your campaign and constituent strategy. Find out what you should start doing today to boost your campaigning and fundraising efforts, while connecting with your supporters on a deeper and more personal level.

May I propose a scholarship for the Giuliani campaign, who only just opened up his MySpace page to the public? (Facebook link here)

When brands hurt

Plaxo is supposedly reinventing itself as a distributed social network, which sounds good — except that it comes from Plaxo, a brand I have come to hate and equate with turning good people into spammers. Almost everyone I know can’t stand the Plaxo brand and automatically kills any email carrying that name. So why would they keep the brand for a product that is supposedly so new? The old conventional wisdom that that if you’ve spent the money to build brand recognition, you ride it. But now, brands are born and built — and ruined — more quickly. It’s going to take one helluva lot of convincing — thus marketing expense — for me to ever try something from Plaxo that wants data from me.

Editing by the crowd

Advance Internet, my old employer, has mashed up one of its news sites, OregonLive, with its social editing tool, Reddit, to create a nice new feature: the readers edit. Digg, upon which Reddit is modeled, is wildly popular but also accused of being too tech-driven. Here is a chance to see whether local news can work with social editing. I hope it can, for this gives us another window on the news. No, it doesn’t replace editors, but it does check editors and tell them what people care about; it also enables people to find more stories than editors have time to find.

A week ago, I noted that Kevin Rose of Digg said they would go into social recommendations of not just news but products, services, restaurants, images. Here’s a chance to see whether newspapers can get there first.