The implications of Social Graph and it’s history are continue to be astounding in the development platform. It is worth a visit as we approach the anniversary of last year’s f8 in April 2010. An official date for f8 2011 has not yet been announced and will likely be kept secret. However, seeing as the Spring is Facebook’s time for new roll-outs, the probability of another session soon is likely.
Here’s a recap of key advances in the past:
Open Graph was announced at f8 in 2007 and segways into how it integrates into the extension, Social Graph, announced in 2010. It is a generally understood premise that people are not only defined by their friends but that they are defined by their preferences (and subsequently, their connection to products and companies) as well. However, social distinguishes relationships based on category, i.e. friendships are in a separate bucket that interests. Open Graph supersedes the categorial barriers of the things that define individuals to attempt to create both universality and permanence to these connections. Facebook officially declares this removal of categories of relationships between individual and their social network’s interests to be named connections. Relationships and interests will be referred to as “connections” within their development platform. Likely, both the premise of dropping categorical barriers as well as the term “connections” will continue to become contagious and widely accepted.
How connections form the Open Graph
Imagine if a 2nd degree connection in LinkedIn (a “friend of a friend”) would instead connect an interest to a company. The example that Facebook uses on their Developer platform:
All of the objects in the Facebook social graph are connected to each other via relationships. Bret Taylor is a fan of the Coca-Cola page, and Bret Taylor and Arjun Banker are friends. We call those relationships connections in our API.
Further, Facebook doesn’t like it very much that an item a user Likes pops up once into their friends’ News Feeds for a mere three hours after conversion and that it then disappears from central view. Also, the page that a user has liked once also has the same visibility component as any other page that the user likes, regardless of whether the user prefers one page’s product or organization more than another. They are both lost in the dust of “real-time.”
To remedy the real-time disappearance act, Facebook will begin integrating into an individual’s News Feed a common page that multiple friends have liked (e.g. a restaurant). They also take this to the website itself. If you search for a certain preference you have (again, the restaurant example), Facebook will display restaurants that friends who have similar interests as you also like. Essentially, the recommendation algorithm has gotten a surge of social connectivity that hasn’t been yet seen.
Open Graph for Developers
Since Open Graph was released last spring, we (developers) are now accustomed to how the Like functionality has the code to associate an interest on an external website into a category (Open Graph – http://developers.facebook.com]) (e.g. organization, movie, sport, celebrity) and then deposit this interest categorized into an individual profile’s interest listing. Further, the integration of these interests from external websites can customize the information posted into an individual’s News Feed. The example that they use is if I like an athlete on a website, I can receive real-time updates of games this athlete plays in my News Feed from the original website where I liked the content. That is, the website can publish updates to Facebook for any users who have connected with the website through Facebook. As Bret Taylor describes, “the Open Graph protocol enables a long-term communication channel between [a website] and the long-term users who are connected to it. … For the first time, the likes and interests on my profile link to pages off of facebook.com.”
The magnitude of this change is astounding. Instead of integrating user’s periphery interests into the Facebook portal, it makes a user’s visit to any website that they’ve alreadyconnected with redundant. All commerce can be conducted through Fcebook instead of on the website itself. Unreal.
He says: “We think that the connections between people and the things that they care about will play as big of a role as hyperlinks do today in defining a user’s internet experience.”
All of the permanent connections created by Open Graph are aggregated to form the “Social Graph.” The premise: “Use the Open Graph so that people have instantly social and personlized experiences everywhere they go.” (Zuckerberg). The most important component specific to f8 is that third-party applications can now tap into the Social Graph, the network of connections and relationships between people on the service (ZDNet).
Note: The availability of third-party app developers to have the accessibility to leverage the data available in the Social Graph will be the most interesting area to me, personally, to follow. Similar to the creative potential of the Kinect platform, Facebook has essentially open-sourced its leading functionality to become available to developers. Creativity + technology (a foundational premise of Engauge, the full-services marketing company I recently joined) will be unleashed in a dynamic way that as of yet, can not even dream of in the social industry.
Graph API for Developers
- http://graph.facebook.com/%5BID, e.g. btaylor, lindsay.reene, etc.]
- connections between objects on facebook can be downloaded http://graph.facebook.com/[ID]/[connection name, e.g. groups, likes,etc.]
- Search all public updates – implications for listening to brands
- Oauth 2.0 standard: official IETF standard.
The presentation concludes with a visual of website after website of organizations who have integrated the Social Graph application software. When I checked out Slate.com (a subsidiary of Washington Post, who was invited to access the platform), the Facebook connected platform was about a page and a half down.
Developers that attended f8 are considered among the forerunners in their industry, technologically and socially. Interesting attendees in 2010 included:
- Amazon, who recently collaborated with Facebook to develop “a “Book Reviews” applications that lets Facebookers write and show book reviews on their profile pages, and add Amazon ‘Buy’ buttons” (ZDNet).
- Feedburner [in the Facebook vs. Google faceoff, I wonder if we will consume blogs through Facebook in the near future. Yesterday, we integrate the blogs of each of the members on the DIG team here at engauge to post automatically to our Facbook page. ]
- Uber, Inc.
- Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, which might indicate that the Post (and its syndicates, including Slate Magazine) is ahead of the New York Times technologically speaking.
The full list of developers at the Facebook f8 2010 launch:
30 Boxes; All Widgets, LLC; Amazon.com; Attendio; Bitnik; Blue Nile; Box.net; Bunchball; Channels.com; Chumby Industries; CollegeHumor; Digg, Dogster Inc.; EF Tours; Ether; Fantasy Moguls; FASHION FOR THE PEOPLE; FeedBurner, Inc.; Fliptrack, Inc.; Forbes.com; FORD MODELS; Glimpse.com; HOT or NOT; Jangl; Jaxtr; Jobster; Lending Club; LocalPlatform LLC; Microsoft Corp.; MOG; Mosoto; Obama for America; Oodle; Photobucket, Inc.; Photojojo; Pickspal; Platial; Plum; Project Agape; Prosper.com; QOOP, Inc.; Radar; Rapleaf; Red Bull Energy Drink; RockYou!; Rupture; Scrapblog; Scribd; SideStep, Inc.; Slide; Snapvine, Inc.; SplashCast, Inc.; TERRALEVER; Twitter, Inc.; Uber; uPlayMe; Veoh Networks, Inc.; viagogo; VIRGIN MOBIL USA; Warner Bros. Records; Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive; Widgetbox; and YackPack.
See Zuckerberg’s keynote life on the f8 webpage.