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May 18, 2008

The Commoditization of the Social Graph


  No Facebook - Blessington St, St Kilda 
  Originally uploaded by avlxyz.

The data portability dust up, thanks to Google's announcement of Google Connect, and covered by the Gillmor Gang and Techmeme, is continuing the conversation that Umair at BubbleGeneration started awhile ago. He deserves the credit for being one of the first to posit the notion that Facebook was evil and wrapped within that theme is the idea that their model or platform would start to crumble:

Which, in turn, begs the question: will it be plastic, or specific?

That is, will it be dependent on graph/platform/profile/etc data from a single network, or from many networks?

If you understand what network scale economies really are, it's almost inevitably the latter.

So who's in a dominant position - Google, or Facebook?

I think we, not the mainstream press but the early adopters of the web/techie world, are starting to see the same cracks in Facebook's amour that Umair has been thinking and blogging about for some time.

Fred posted on this topic today, in fact citing a lunch conversation he had with Umair a few months ago, and here's the synthesis of the future of the social graph:

What you cannot commoditize is the desire to create a social graph on a web service and the desire to maintain a social graph on a web service and the flow of data into and around that social graph.

The internet, if it has any one permanent characteristic in the way that is has evolved so far, is a fundamentally disruptive force on every product, service, business, or industry that tries to harness its power.

What does this mean for technologists and entrepreneurs?

Think hard about how to use the internet because we are in its infancy and there are millions of opportunities out there. But as well, be cognizant of how quickly your idea can be copied and cannibalized by those same internet forces that first gave you inspiration.

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Now playing: Bloc Party - Tulips 

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