Social Graph: You Might Need to Care About This

There’s a lot of buzz right know around something called the social graph. This buzz is very geeky, and if you’re not already immersed in geeky conversations about Internet privacy and identity, this buzz might be going over your head. That’s a shame, though, because you probably do care about it.

socialgraphapi.jpgWhat’s a Social Graph?

You have lots of contacts. Some are professional colleagues, some are personal friends, some are both of those, and some are more complicated than that. A social graph is a snapshot of who you’re connected to and how. The specifics are super-geeky, so I’m not gonna go any deeper than that.

What’s Happening Now?

Google just released something called the Social Graph API. This is going to make it easier for social networking websites to share information about who you’re connected to. This opens up a huge can of worms in terms of privacy and identity and security and all that fun stuff that the Internet’s been debating since it was born.

How Does This Affect You?

At the moment, it doesn’t. It’s too new. But it’s pushing the borders on what we need to think about when we use social networking websites, and that’s going to matter to you as soon as it gets to your favorite websites. Looking ahead to the not-so-distant future, you should probably prepare yourself for two things:

1) You’re going to have an easier time sharing your “friends list” between your social networking websites without having to give out your email address book. This also means that signing up for a new social networking website won’t be such a headache.

2) You’re going to have a harder time compartmentalizing and obscuring different parts of your life on the Internet. There will still be a place for pseudonym-based anonymity, but with all of these networks talking to each other, it’s going to be harder to hide. So if you’ve got skeletons in your public MySpace closet and you’ve just figured that nobody’s gonna look behind that door, you might wanna go clear those out now.

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6 Responses to “Social Graph: You Might Need to Care About This”

  1. Emma Says:

    I’m so excited about this!
    I think that as it becomes impossible to compartmentalizing things, then openness will become the cultural norm. Wheee.
    There’s this fiction story called ‘Am I Blue?’ that’s about this gay/questioning teen who wakes up one morning and everyone who is gay is a shade of blue. Nobody can hide anymore. He realizes that he is not alone of course. His dad has just a tinge of blue. Various conservative preachers are deep blue. All hell breaks lose. But everyone has to talk about it. They can’t hide anymore. I love the concept.

    Hey does this exist: something that will list on my blog all the comments I’ve made on other blogs? It would have to plug in to my browser or something. Hmmm.

  2. sarah Says:

    Hee! That’s an awesome story!

    And I really do agree that it’s exciting that we’re moving toward all this transparency and authenticity. It’s going to freak people out because the norms that we just barely got comfortable with are going to keep changing… and that’s not easy to cope with when it’s having such huge impacts on culture…. but goddamn, it’s gonna be fun. :)

  3. Emma Says:

    Critical mass, baby. Imagine the world in 5 years…10 years. I can’t wait!

  4. - links for 2008-02-05 Says:

    […] Dopp Juice » Blog Archive » Social Graph: You Might Need to Care About This In the not-so-distant future, prepare yourself for: 1) An easier time sharing your “friends list” between social networking sites. 2) A harder time compartmentalizing and obscuring different parts of your life online.” (tags: social+media sharing privacy tools) […]

  5. Severe Says:

    Ah’ve heard of, but nevah actually read tha “Am I Blue,” story. Who’s that by (n ah thought it was a short story, so what collection could you find it in, por favor)??

    While ah agree that this is very interestin, especially fer scientific purposes, ah guess ah have a problem w. this bein called tha “SOCIAL Graph API.” Mostly b/c, while ah agree that online communication sites are social in nature, ah still think social implies person-ta-person, in person interaction. Chattin w. someone online is what ah call “friendly.” Someone who will hang out w. you and possibly look you in tha eye, is a “social” person. At least, thas how ah will (prolly always” see it.

    Unless of kerse, API is some geek-speak ah don’t unnerstand, which implies that most, if nawt all, interaction be done w.o tha awkwardness of flesh.

  6. Emma Says:

    Am I Blue is a short story, it’s in an anthology with the same name, “Am I Blue?: Coming Out from the Silence”. Edited by Marion Dane Bauer. It’s a pretty good collection of stories for young adults about coming out.