Saturday, February 02, 2008

Google's Social Graph API: New House, Same Neighbors

So, there's lot's o'buzz this fine saturday morning on Google's new social graph API (in a post titled URLs are People too....and as I read thru Brad Fitzpatrick's post, all I could think of is that engineers really need to get out more and learn about people....

You see, Goog's new API is just another way to port your peeps from one network to another....and, if people truly are getting burnt out from social networking, as the comScore stats hinted at, then maybe part of that is because they're just not meeting anyone new....

Let's look at it: there are all these nifty little social networking thingamabobs that try to sell us on how they're better than the others. Twitter is better than Facebook because it's updates in real time. Facebook is better than LinkedIn because you can let your business buddies and causal friends know what kind of music you like and if you're looking to hook up. LinkedIn is better than Plaxo because you can put in recommendations and not have to go thru crappy-assed Outlook.

But when it all comes down to it, it's not that they make our social lives better--it's that they're just competing against one another in some kind of weird personal information land-grab.

So, rather than giving us an opportunity to meet other people, because now other people are either "predators" or identity theives or whatever (and none of these platforms gives us any *real* way to interact with one another--Twitter being just a series of declarative statements about ourselves) what Goog wants us to be able to do is take whomever it is with us wherever we go.

So, we essentially change our social "neighborhood" and our "house" (look at my new profile page!) AND we can take all our neighbors with us!

Hmmm...when people are getting bored and tired of social networking, and with this new API, doesn't it seem to be that what we are doing is taking all our info from one place to another, giving it to some other software development company, never knowing how they're going to eventually use this info to make money for themselves, and NEVER improving how we actually socialize on the 'net.

We are not being social. We are rarely, if ever, networking in the space provided (that's done before we add someone)

We are only learning new software.

The only writings on the whole thing that have made some sense from a software Silicon Valley perspective were Nick O'Neil's where makes a comment about Goog's trying to "out open" Facebook (never know) and Andy Beard who talks about Goog shooting itself in the foot 3 years ago with nofollow.

But all of this is just software talk anyway. Nobody's really talking about what people really think and feel about social networking (it's fucking boring if all you're doing is taking everybody with you from one place to the next) and tiring (if all you're doing is taking everyone with you from one place to the next.)

And that's because nobody who's developing this stuff knows a darned thing about people. All they're caring about is moving around information and beating one another at the social networking game.

So, I'm sorry Brad, but URls aren't people. People are people. and all your graphs and crapola aren't going to make our live any more convenient or better. It's just one more thing I have to sign up for and learn if I want to keep up with the "cool kids."


post script there's also, I'm sure, a very dark side as to what Goog might do with all our social network info if it's all maintained by one Giant. That's what's really kinda scary about this.


Wendell Dryden said...

"just a series of declarative statements about ourselves... [and] learning new software"

My on-going bewilderment with most social networking sites has to do with how little room they offer for creativity and self-expression. Boring! Yet, the younger crowd seems to like them... ?

Actually, I like talking about myself and learning new software. Which I why I like blogging.

I like producing the training-wheels kind of blog Google Blogger allows where I can add and colour and pretend to program without really screwing up).

I like reading blogs - like this one - where interesting people I've never met tell me neat things about the world and, often, are okay with me commenting on it.

It's all so... civilized. Or maybe I'm just getting old.

bizQuirk said...

There is no mission critical use case for most of the social media / networking sites as they are crystallized today.

Other than their entertainment value, like a new model of TV, regular people that are not bloggers and 'Social Media Consultants' (a lot of them popped up in the last year), come for a few tries and leave.

There are many vertical industries where social something will be great, but not as fashioned by Facebook. I am thinking of technical product services and hard - skilled professions.

Community and skills sharing are everything from the POV of streamlining one's work-flow.

VC for useless clones of existing social media sites = billions

VC for yet another video sharing site that innovates nada - billions

VC for vertically focused groundbreaking social mobile platforms for the skilled trades? = ZERO dollars.

Tish Grier said...

Wendell--well, I kinda think it's that getting older makes you a bit more civilized. :-) And it's great having you comment. I appreciate your perspective!

Bizqirk: have to agree with you. Soc. networking sites as we know them now developed to serve college communities and youth (Facebook/MySpace--with the exception of LinkedIn, which some prognosticators like to say is "dead" but still manages to "live.") And I have *no* idea what goes on in VCs heads, unless it's that lots of them like to gamble. Rather than going to Vegas, they like to speculate on new Internet ventures--and these days, esp. if those ventures are connected to something of a youth-experience...

Probably because of the hype about millenials/digital natives. But even digital natives that I know, burn out on too much social media. They pick and choose according to their social needs, and neglect what isn't important when the whole job and life thing takes hold.

Ah, yes. Job and Life. And then Kids for lots of people...even if you don't have Kids, you've got to eventually have a Life...

Even friends who I first learned about the Internet from (before it was congealed into "the Web") pick and choose where they and how much time they spend online. After awhile, being a "cool kid" doesn't matter any more. Your Life matters.