Three’s a Charm for the Social Graph

March 31st, 2008

Clearly it is “social networks on the brain” day. Here’s my third and final post of the day on the topic.

I just read Brad Feld’s post about Loic LeMeur’s post (whew!) about his distributed social graph.

Loic penciled out a kind of map of his online life and concluded that he would rather have it all run through his blog than live in 10-15 different silos devoted to specific types of communication (video, short-form blogging, long-form blogging, etc.). Brad tied this to his firm’s principle of investing in companies that form the “glue” among internet presences.

I realized that there is an idea in here that is a component of why so many of my friends are on Facebook but I find it unsatisfying. I posted my thought as a comment on Brad’s post, and I am re-blogging it below.

I just listened to an interview with Clay Shirky (http://tinyurl.com/3y72d5) where he identified a big gap between “famous” and not famous people- the difference being (online and off) the ability to respond symmetrically to every conversation directed to a person.

Loic wants everything on his blog because he produces a lot of content, gets a lot of attention and can’t respond equally to all of it- i.e. he’d rather respond in comments on his own blog than click through to other platforms, log in, comment, etc. He wants a magnet more than he wants glue.

People with more symmetrical graphs may be happier using something else (eg Facebook)- or lots of places- as the hub(s) of their social graphs depending on how they respond to others as well as what they produce. A layer of glue would work better here.

The glue metaphor is breaking down for me. I wonder if “synapses” is more accurate- not sticking things together permanently, but constantly forming and re-forming connections, getting stronger and smarter as it goes.

. . . mmm, glue still has a better ring.

I am not a “famous” person on the Internet. I can respond in kind to everyone who reaches out to me. I do produce a lot more long-form content than most of my friends, though. This puts me in the middle. I don’t need to run everything through a single point like Loic, but I do find a limit at around 5 social network outlets to check in with regularly.

The glue that works best for me links networks, but doesn’t replace them. I like Disqus because it sits on top of my blog and Tumblog, but doesn’t replace them. I can’t get excited about Friendfeed or Plaxo because they just create more places for me to visit.

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  • Great post, Jay.

    I feel the same way about a lot of what you just wrote about. Thanks for the Disqus mention as well.