The Interest Graph -- Paths not taken by Google+
The idea of an interest graph rather than social graph network is the topic of several recent discussions on G+ and elsewhere. What's interesting is that it's being raised by some long-term boosters of the site (who are starting to sound a bit weary), as well as ex-Googlers.
Gideon Rosenblatt points at ex-Googler Chris Messina's "Thoughts on Google". With the key question: "So what the fuck is Google+ for anyway?".
There's a lot in here I don't agree with -- I care fuck-all about "digital identity providers" (actually, I'll manage my own, thanks much). Chris totally misses the beat on Privacy. But the story of an utterly fogged vision for G+ is telling. Google fucks up just like any other company, they just get to throw far more money at their problems.
The post also reminds me, painfully, of how Google burned through all my trust in the company. I actively avoid it where possible these days (not altogether successfully, but I"m getting better at it).
In "Is Google+ now being positioned more as a "shared interest" network?" Gideon both points to his own "interest-network" slides, and Messina's "Google+, the interest network", which augers from new Google release material that the focus for G+ is finally changing to interests.
This is hardly a new idea.
Back at the dawn of time, we had "Google+ Should Ditch the Social Graph" by M Sinclair Stevens.
Stevens was one of the first people I encountered on G+, and in the early days one of the site's biggest boosters. He's now all but abandoned it (slinking off to the Real World and some blogging). He wrote a classic piece, on September 23, 2011, only about two months following Google+'s public launch, over how the service should align itself. It hasn't, much to its detriment:
In the real world our relationships rely on proximity. We learn to make friends (or at least how to politely tolerate) the people near us: our family, our schoolmates, our neighbors, our coworkers and colleagues. Of course, many great friendships grow from this soil. We discover common interests and grow closer. We date the cute guy at work; we marry the girl-next-door....
Google+ has the potential to own the interest graph.
Despite all the marketing of circles, many people tend to share publicly on Google+ and interact with strangers based on shared interests. When our friends and family are cajoled into joining, they are bored by our tech talk (or whatever passion). This is our social graph asking to be excluded from our interest graph. This is our mom rolling her eyes when we get excited about the latest API release.
It's actually really sad to see how many of the pitfalls of G+ Stevens presaged in that post.
@cacheflowe @budnitz: Experience is learning from your own mistakes. Education is learning from the mistakes of others. Free education here... Facebook owns the social graph. Go Interests!