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Is the Interest Graph social?

Stashed in: Twitter!, Facebook!, The Web, Best PandaWhale Posts, Google+, Social Media, @vkhosla, Advertising, @lizgannes, @fredwilson

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I've been thinking a lot lately about Liz Gannes's line from How the Social Web can move Beyond Facebook ...

"Are public, one-way relationships really all that social?"

I believe the answer is yes. Interests connect people and therefore the Interest Graph is inherently social.

This is why the Interest Graph will be huge in the coming years.

Other thoughts I've written about the Interest Graph so far:

Google+ shipped a year after Pandas and Lobsters. For now Google+ seems obsessed with getting the age, gender, and location of its users: "Everything gets better when we know who our users are." That's A/S/L, not interest graph.

Too bad for Google, because Twitter is a much better business than I thought.

Interests do connect people, depending on how interested people happen to be in that particular interest. Speaking from personal experience, a personal example for me is my general love of all creatures great and small. From there, it's like a sliding scale for me, where I care about animals generally, then pets, then dogs, then my dogs, until it's the point where I care about my dog's specific breed a whole lot. That pattern seems to be the same for everyone else I know who's familiar with the breed because it's an obscure breed, so it a small but dedicated community that's been built around that very particular interest.

Daniel Odio writes in Fixing What Facebook is Missing that

Facebook has blinded many of us to a plain truth: The Social Graph is just one component of the Interest Graph.

Or to put it another way, Facebook has created a $70+ Billion company by connecting us through friendships. But incredibly, there’s a much larger opportunity lurking under the surface — the Interest Graph.

So Liz (and Liz Gannes!), I think he's agreeing with you: Interests connect people, but the opportunity does not stop at Social Graph.

Kevin Cheng opined, Can we ever digitally organize our friends?

I believe that the point of the Interest Graph is that we shouldn't have to organize our friends explicitly, because in knowing interests, a great service can automatically route what's interesting to who would be interested in it -- both in the case for friends and in the case of people we've never met who share that interest!

Vinod tweeted:

Add interest areas + temporal to friend groups + computers to do 90%. RT @fredwilson Explicit Groups vs Implicit Groups

Vinod then tweeted:

Need more than friend groups. Interests are not tied to friends hence the importance of interest graphs. interests/friends can be temporal.

I tweeted back:

@vkhosla @fredwilson I concur. Interests are not tied to friends, and Interest groups can be organized many ways besides temporally.

Meanwhile, back on Google+, Bradley Horowitz plussed:

We're just getting started. I believe we've already created something that's easy, fun and useful. But the foundation we've realized today isn't the end state.


I've seen great feedback in this direction from both users and pundits... shared affiliations, interests, geography, etc. can all help build meaningful circles (all pursuant to a permission model that respects all parties of course.) I'm confident we've got some great innovations to share here.

I happen to think that things like shared affiliations and geography are types of interest.

Which means, it all comes back to the Interest Graph, yet again.

I love the concept of the interest graph and I think there's DEFINITELY something there.

To play devil's advocate: I fear that the social graph will always have something on the interest graph because interests rarely get us as emotionally invested as friends, family or, hell, even celebrity gossip.

Fundamentally, I believe we're more emotional and social than we are cerebral. (And this is coming from a guy whose blog is made up primarily of heady scientific abstracts.)

I think the majority of humans are more interested in people than things.

Am I missing something in what the interest graph is? I want to understand. :)

You're close.

I think you have the fundamentals: the interest graph describes the relationship between people and things.

Some points you might be missing:

  • Some people ARE things: celebrities, politicians, leaders of companies, leaders of movements.

  • Yes, we find friends and family engaging, but we find people who are smarter, cooler, or more charismatic than friends and family to be irresistible.

  • Even when talking with friends and family, once you're caught up on each others' lives, the conversation turns to common items of interest.

  • Items of interest are the foundation of economics: who wants what, and what are they willing to pay or do to get it.

So it's not either/or when it comes to social graph and interest graph. Facebook certainly has crossed those two streams, and now Google+ is beginning to do so, too.

I believe the social graph makes the interest graph more... interesting.

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