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February 20, 2011

My Ideal Social Network: The Interest Graph

It has now been a year and a half since I graduated college. Surprising how much life can change in such a little amount of time. My priorities, ambitions, interests, career goals, etc. are all much different from when I was a freshman at Yale. Even compared to my senior year, I find that I have new passions, and interests– my ideas and thoughts about the world and my place in it are evolving constantly. I have a handful of college friends that I catch up with regularly. But how do I keep abreast all the latest happenings of the rest of my friends who are now professionals all over the globe? Facebook. Is it ideal? Far from.

As a young professional, I find very little use out of Facebook. Partly it’s the result of the fact that I created my Facebook account the summer of 2005, the summer before I entered Yale. It’s a popular time for all the excited incoming freshman to add just about every possible college connection– quick encounters at admit events, interesting classmates who we’d like to meet in person, friends of friends, and finally those who we actually call our friends in real life. Multiply this by 4 years of college, and then the summers spent at internships, study abroad programs, traveling, living life, etc. and you get a bunch of “Facebook Friends.” So what does my Facebook news feed look like? A whole lot of noise. Sure you can opt out of updates from certain ‘friends’, and even un-friend people who you realize you never actually were real life friends with. But this takes a ton of time, and there’s always the awkward concern of “what if this person ever comes to my profile and realizes I unfriended him/her.” Facebook surely doesn’t mind this as ultimately they’re not betting on people continuing to log into their Facebook profile, but more on all the valuable data they’re collecting from being so integrated into practically every new product and service. Think Like buttons, Open Graph, and Facebook Connect. Facebook will continue to be relevant so long as new businesses continue to layer on top of it embedding all of Facebook’s plugins, and as far as I can tell, we’re only seeing the beginnings of this.

There must be an easier way to learn about what’s top of mind with my friends than following them on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc. I had brunch this past Saturday with Steph, a dear friend who I don’t see as often as I’d like– she said, “I checked your blog before brunch to see what you’re thinking about these days to make sure we catch up on all the important stuff!” But not all my friends have blogs (nor update them regularly enough), but we do regularly post articles, updates, tweets, etc. related to our interests. So how would I like to stay abreast all the latest happenings of my real world friends who are located all over the globe? (And by happenings, I mean, what do my friends care about these days?) Answer: The Interest Graph.

Gravity currently
maps our interests in order to target relevant content/ads. Step in right
direction, but still lots of room for innovation in presenting the data in a
more meaningful and digestible way.

 

I would love to have an interest graph for my friends– where I could dive into what they’re thinking about lately and watch my friends grow and evolve their interests, priorities, opinions, and passions. The interest graph would pull in keywords/topics from a meta-analysis of my friends’ tweets, blog posts, Facebook updates, posted articles, and I’d have a real map of all the things that matter to them. I could click on a keyword, and dive deeper into the articles that my friend has been reading/liking/tweeting/etc. And I could watch this change over time so that next time I meet Steph for brunch, I’ll be sure to ask about all the stuff she’s thinking about these days. We change so much throughout our lifetime that it’d be nice to have a way to keep posted on the stuff that matters to us. The Interest Graph would be my ideal social network.

Victoria Song is an Associate with Flybridge Capital Partners.  You may find this post, as well as additional content on her blog called The Thoughtiverse of Victoria Song.  You can also follow Victoria on Twitter (@victoriaesong) by clicking here.