Its not the Social Network Sites that are interesting — it is the Social Network itself. The Social Graph. The way I am connected, not the way my Web pages are connected.
We can use the word Graph, now, to distinguish from Web.
I called this graph the Semantic Web, but maybe it should have been Giant Global Graph!
Whoa, the semantic web is in reality the social graph. I wonder if Mark Zuckerberg foresaw Tim Berners-Lee suggesting that the social graph was indeed the future of the web. Right now Facebook has the most accurate representation of the social graph … at least in the United States. The social graph still has a long way to go but the reality is that we are at the forefront of, as Nicholas Carr suggests, an entirely New Paradigm.
Berners-Lee suggests that the acceptance of open standards such as FOAF will be the future. I think that OpenSocial is the most effective step toward standardization. The effectiveness of the graph is only as effective as the data though. We are at the beggining of a phase during which thought leaders on the web will try to determine how to most effectively express the graph. Facebook (and Mark Zuckerberg) appears to be the leader in this space currently.
Nicholas Carr also makes an excellent point:
But while it’s true that technologists and theoreticians desire to abstract the graph from the sites – and see only the benefits of doing so – it’s not yet clear that that’s what ordinary users want or even care about. That’ll be the real test to whether the graph makes the leap from mathematician to mainstream – and it will also tell us whether a social network like Facebook has a chance to become a true platform or is fated to remain a mere site.
I would suggest that whether or not the social graph makes the leap from thought leaders to the mainstream, the web is continuing to become more social. How the web chooses to express the social aspects is up to its members. While I don’t know where it’s going, I will surely cover the entire process.