The Facebook Developers' conference generated lots of buzz last week. Much of the excitement was around the launch of Facebook Connect (see details on Facebook Developer News), which many covered and proclaimed as a step forward in the social Web.
Facebook Connect makes the data, updates and interconnections from your social network portable, for integration with other Web and social networking applications (and vice versa: updates from your blog can go back to Facebook, for example).
It seems to be a powerful concept, and Facebook is once again demonstrating its leadership and ability to drive the dialog in social networking (sure, they have also had their share of controversy, but they somehow manage to stay ahead of the curve; and their numbers verify their growth and progress, I read somewhere that they have achieved user parity with MySpace).
Somehow the concept of the social graphs seems to have been haphazardly lumped into all of this, and I am trying to determine if Facebook Connect really does advance of the concept.
I have blogged about Social graphs (WhatIs definition) from time to time. As the name implies, social graphs provide a visual way to analyze social networks. They hold the promise of a better way to map relationships, and graphically show networks, connections and hubs of influence.
The challenge in all this of course is sensitivity over privacy and personal data. People don't necessarily want to show up on some marketer's graph. Also, most social networks are to an extent closed - users can make their profiles inaccessible to others.
Not to get to hung up on terminology, but it seems like Zuckerberg and others who have chimed in about Facebook Connect very casually throw the phrase around and say "social graph" when what they are really talking about is social networks.
To me, this news is more about socializing Facebook and the Web and less about graphs. Unless I am missing something, Facebook Connect does not necessarily advance the social graph concept. Although, perhaps that is an application developers are working on as we speak.
The term "socializing" in the context of information and applications is quickly becoming one of my favorite verbs. You can socialize press releases, content and now other Web applications, with Facebook Connect, as noted above.
Social is in, standalone, out. You want your info to play nicely with others and leverage your connections, and connections' connections (threatening rugged individualists, freelance gunslingers and wallflowers everywhere).
I am starting to wonder if Web 3.0 = social Web? The Social Web seems to be where some of the more interesting development work is being done, and would appear to be a logical extension and advancement of Web 2.0 concepts (I am sure the semantic Web zealots will be chiming in on this).
So I am thinking of updating my old slogan. What do you think? Does Web 3.0 as Social Web have legs?