Social Networks Web 2.0 Web Services

Thoughts for Opening and Sharing the Distributed Graph

As you know from few posts on this blog, I am a huge supporter of user’s owning their social graphs. Over multiple posts, I have been laying out the need for a consolidated service, which hosts the graph (along with identity) for a user.

Last week this discussion caught some steam with some great posts by Tim Berners-Lee and Dave Winer. Dave’s post made me think that the data ownership problem is bigger than just the graph. Theoretically a user owns all the content they generate on any of these services. You know, things like Amazon ratings, YouTube videos, etc. While I don’t see anyone having the need for getting an XML file with this content for personal use. I do see them wanting to use this data on other services. For example (from Dave’s post) one can use their movie ratings at NetFlix and use it with Vudu or share it with their friends on Facebook.

This thought process clearly reflects that there are many graphs (social or otherwise) within many dimensions of services on the web. Every new service with any user generated content is creating a new graph. I talked about the need for consolidating the access to this graph in my last post. Given the dispersed nature of the graphs it will be pretty unrealistic for any web service to physically do that. Hence in this post I am recommending a slightly different mechanism whereby we can enable an ecosystem on the web and achieve the same results. So here it goes:

Social Networks Web 2.0 Web Services

Free the Social Graph

Few days back I talked about the OpenSocial initiative and how I believe that it can help making the online Social experience much better by enabling interoperability. Before that I have also talked about consolidation of online social experience. My theme continues to remain the same. How do we fix “Social Network Overload”? So in this post I am going deeper to the basics of the problem.

What is a Social Graph?

The term popularized by Mr. Zuckerberg (CEO Facebook) is a better name for your Social Network. Social Graph represents your network of acquaintances. It is a graph of your contacts (friends, family, coworkers etc). Services build upon the social graph and offer applications, which let you interact with your friends and acquaintances. Check out the Wikipedia page for in-depth details.

Where does it exist?

For a typical user, the social graph is broken and distributed among various services and applications. For example my graph exists across:

  • Social networks I belong to, such as Facebook, Orkut, MySpace etc
  • Business networks I belong to, such as LinkedIn, Plaxo etc
  • My Email contacts, which exist on GMail, Outlook etc
  • My IM buddy list
  • My phonebook on my mobile handset
  • Finally my blog visitors and Twitter followers

For some of you this list will probably be longer. Now these services and people I interact with represent my social realm of influence. So as you can see my overall graph is spread all over the place, over various services. I am sure most users are this way.

Google Web 2.0

GDrive is Live!


The rumor around GDrive has been around for last couple of years. There were those who even built software to utilize GMail’s storage space as a drive loadable onto your PC. The combined value of their effort in the online office space and the $100 laptop intiative along with the GDrive was touted as the next big thing.

Finally today Google announced (in a subtle way) their plans for offering additional storage to it’s users. Launched by their Picasa team, it is being positioned as a very simple and easy way to extend storage for your existing Google services. Currently you can extend it to support your GMail (current capacity: 2.8 GB) and Picasa Web Albums (1GB). Naturally they plan to extend it to other services like Docs and Spreadsheets. Users can simply purchase extra storage with straight forward plans listed below.

  • 6 GB ($20.00 per year)
  • 25 GB ($75.00 per year)
  • 100 GB ($250.00 per year)
  • 250 GB ($500.00 per year)