Scoble responsible for destroying the utility of the social graph

The other day I was talking with someone who works at Facebook. She and I were having a fun conversation about number of followers and all that. At one point she emailed back that I was “destroying the utility of the social graph.”

How did I do that? By adding people who actually were not my “real” friends.

I asked her to define “real.”

Anyway, this morning, in the comments of my Facebook post I saw a comment from someone named “facebook user” that said “people may not be leaving, but i know plenty of folks who are trimming their friend lists down to true personal friends.”

Ahh, have you ever thought that this is behavior that Facebook wants you to do?

After all, how can they recommend the best sushi restaurant to you if you’ve added people you don’t even know?

Hint: the Facebook employee is right. I have destroyed the utility of the social graph — from her point of view. But I’m there to study patterns of early adopter behavior. For ME my social graph brings me stuff that no one else’s social graph brings.

Which points to what I want in the future: multiple social graphs for different things.

See, I know that Dori Smith (she’s one of the two people who convinced me to start blogging) is a Javascript expert who works in Sonoma. So, I bet she’s also somewhat expert on wine. But, I doubt she’s expert on baby strollers or Half Moon Bay restaurants. So, I want to add her to my “wine” social network. Who would be #1 there? Gary Vaynerchuk, owner of winelibrary.tv, of course. He knows more about wine than anyone else I know.

I really hate the word “friend.” It has no meaning anymore. No one can define what a friend is. Believe me, I’ve asked dozens of people to define it for me. My wife is my most “true” friend, for instance but if you trust her with picking a great wine (she doesn’t drink much) or picking a great sushi restaurant (she hates the stuff) you’ll be very disappointed. You’d be better off asking @garyvee about the wine even though you’ve never met him and he probably wouldn’t be listed among your “true” friends.

This is one reason why I like Twitter and friendfeed. Friendfeed in particular lets me follow different people with different contexts. I can put @garyvee into a “wine” folder, for instance. But I can also put him into “social media innovators.” Twitter doesn’t let me do that, but Twitter also doesn’t try to force me to subscribe to only my “true” friends.

Anyway, in the past eight years I’ve met many thousands of people face-to-face. Just last week I sent off more than 1,000 business cards to Allen Stern’s new business, CloudContacts (and that’s only a small fraction of the ones I’ve collected since I’ve started blogging). His business is scanning them and will build me a new social graph that I’ll bring into friendfeed and other places to study. I can’t wait.

Regarding whether I’ve destroyed the utility of the social graph: that’s up to me to decide, not you. Not Facebook. Not my commenter. I get great utility out of what I’m doing. I see patterns before most other people do and those patterns are getting more and more useful. A year ago I didn’t have the ability to search Tweets or friendfeed items. Today I have very rich search features so I can go through my like feed, for instance, and find every item that mentions Evernote.

Think that’s not important? Well, Feedly, a company that makes a small toolbar that sits at the bottom of Firefox, is using friendfeed’s search API to find people who’ve said stuff about the pages you’ve visited. This is a new kind of application that simply was not possible a year ago.

Yeah, I’ve destroyed the utility of the social graph, but on the other side is a whole new world that I’m discovering has great utility. You must destroy before you can build. Go have fun with your social graph and stop taking this friend thing too seriously. :-)

77 thoughts on “Scoble responsible for destroying the utility of the social graph

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  2. I’ve recently done a mass pruning of my fb friends. I went from over 400 to under 300. Using a simple set of rules, I figured out who deserved to stay on my fb friend list and who doesn’t. You are cut from my list if 1) I have had contact with you less than 10 times or 2) I do not know you personally and haven’t contacted you in the last 2 years. Of course I make special exceptions of certain people (parent of friends, professional connections, etc)

  3. I’ve recently done a mass pruning of my fb friends. I went from over 400 to under 300. Using a simple set of rules, I figured out who deserved to stay on my fb friend list and who doesn’t. You are cut from my list if 1) I have had contact with you less than 10 times or 2) I do not know you personally and haven’t contacted you in the last 2 years. Of course I make special exceptions of certain people (parent of friends, professional connections, etc)

  4. “AC: a true friend is one who’ll help me move or sit with me in the hospital while I’m sick. The rest of the definitions are unsatisfying.”

    Well, that’s a switch…you actually focus on how a friendship benefits you.

    Wait!…sorry! I got confused. That actually *is* consistent with how you view the world.

  5. “AC: a true friend is one who’ll help me move or sit with me in the hospital while I’m sick. The rest of the definitions are unsatisfying.”

    Well, that’s a switch…you actually focus on how a friendship benefits you.

    Wait!…sorry! I got confused. That actually *is* consistent with how you view the world.

  6. Mr. Scoble. Re: the use of the word “hint” that is pervasive in your writing.

    I don’t believe that word means what you think it means. That just based on how you are using it.

  7. Mr. Scoble. Re: the use of the word “hint” that is pervasive in your writing.

    I don’t believe that word means what you think it means. That just based on how you are using it.

  8. Nice post, Robert.
    I only know you via Internet.
    I’d met my wife in internet too.
    So, beware.

    Regular people don’t care about social networking. They care if their real life friends are in somewhere having fun or not. I was jealous when I’d found out that many of my friends back in Turkey had already been registered in facebook. It was a great find.
    Why jealous? Er, I’ve been using internet since 1997, and while living abroad, not knowing anything better than ICQ. hehe. I’d discovered web forums related to my profession earlier, but didn’t know about social networking until 2006.
    I remember myself being registered in a lot of places, and I thought “Oh, what’s the buzz about this”. I thought twitter was facebook.

    Facebook was and is great for me, because I wanted to ‘meet’ my real life friends and follow them.
    Lately enjoying twitter, because it makes me feel like I’m part of the internet which was not ‘accessible’ before.
    All this made me feel like blogging.

    See? For a ‘regular user’ like me, things can get pretty much upside down.

    It should make sense. Not everyone lives in internet. It should be just a part of my real life, improving it.

  9. Nice post, Robert.
    I only know you via Internet.
    I’d met my wife in internet too.
    So, beware.

    Regular people don’t care about social networking. They care if their real life friends are in somewhere having fun or not. I was jealous when I’d found out that many of my friends back in Turkey had already been registered in facebook. It was a great find.
    Why jealous? Er, I’ve been using internet since 1997, and while living abroad, not knowing anything better than ICQ. hehe. I’d discovered web forums related to my profession earlier, but didn’t know about social networking until 2006.
    I remember myself being registered in a lot of places, and I thought “Oh, what’s the buzz about this”. I thought twitter was facebook.

    Facebook was and is great for me, because I wanted to ‘meet’ my real life friends and follow them.
    Lately enjoying twitter, because it makes me feel like I’m part of the internet which was not ‘accessible’ before.
    All this made me feel like blogging.

    See? For a ‘regular user’ like me, things can get pretty much upside down.

    It should make sense. Not everyone lives in internet. It should be just a part of my real life, improving it.

  10. –snort–

    Me, know anything about wine? I know what’s local to me, but that’s about it.

    I do know a little about baby strollers, but much of that is probably out-of-date at this point. Lately, all I’ve seen are what I call “urban assault strollers.”

    And personally, I’ve pretty much junked all the online uses of “friend” and started using “colleague.” I’ve found that term to be much more applicable to my online relationships.

  11. –snort–

    Me, know anything about wine? I know what’s local to me, but that’s about it.

    I do know a little about baby strollers, but much of that is probably out-of-date at this point. Lately, all I’ve seen are what I call “urban assault strollers.”

    And personally, I’ve pretty much junked all the online uses of “friend” and started using “colleague.” I’ve found that term to be much more applicable to my online relationships.

  12. When you say “multiple social graphs for different things”, could that be a “dynamic social graph” which changes according to the “object-of-sociality”?

    Like a system that gives me recommendations (about wine, books, concerts, movies, holidays, art etc.) depending on the different social graphs for each object?

    If such a social graph could be a truly distributed one, each social network would have to worry about its own users. But a larger social graph could be aggregated from each network. Something for DISO?

  13. When you say “multiple social graphs for different things”, could that be a “dynamic social graph” which changes according to the “object-of-sociality”?

    Like a system that gives me recommendations (about wine, books, concerts, movies, holidays, art etc.) depending on the different social graphs for each object?

    If such a social graph could be a truly distributed one, each social network would have to worry about its own users. But a larger social graph could be aggregated from each network. Something for DISO?

  14. Hey Robert.

    I agree with you, also I like beng connected with people who are really all over the World. Maybe I have not met them but Facebook opens the chance to have that happen. It’s great for business.

  15. Hey Robert.

    I agree with you, also I like beng connected with people who are really all over the World. Maybe I have not met them but Facebook opens the chance to have that happen. It’s great for business.

  16. Some fantastic points here Robert. Great post! I really like how you described the new concept of an acquaintance on the internet. Someone who is neither a personal fried nor someone you actually know in real life, but someone whose opinion you value.

  17. Some fantastic points here Robert. Great post! I really like how you described the new concept of an acquaintance on the internet. Someone who is neither a personal fried nor someone you actually know in real life, but someone whose opinion you value.

  18. In 2005 I started asking myself the same question: with social networks taking over, how should we redefine “friend”? Now it’s 2009 and I have learned that the real definition of friend has never changed. All the “friends” I have made through social networking have not enriched my life nearly as much as people who are obviously true friends. Some friendships have been sparked by social networks, but the friendship did not blossom until it was taken offline and brought to a face-to-face level of interaction. I’m sorry but purely social networking “friends” are only acquaintances.

  19. In 2005 I started asking myself the same question: with social networks taking over, how should we redefine “friend”? Now it’s 2009 and I have learned that the real definition of friend has never changed. All the “friends” I have made through social networking have not enriched my life nearly as much as people who are obviously true friends. Some friendships have been sparked by social networks, but the friendship did not blossom until it was taken offline and brought to a face-to-face level of interaction. I’m sorry but purely social networking “friends” are only acquaintances.

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