I tried to ignore the term “social graph” when it first started popping up a few weeks ago. For one thing, it sounded like some sort of embarrassing disease; for another, the idea of having to figure out some arcane new Web 2.0 term was depressing. But the term – or is it a meme? – kept on proliferating, so last week I tried to figure out what it meant. The definitions I found, explicit or implicit, seemed to indicate that a social graph was all the connections between people in a community or, alternatively, all the connections that one person in a community had with all other people. Why is this a “graph,” I wondered to myself sheepishly, and what’s the difference between a “social graph” and a “social network”? Clearly, I didn’t “get it.” The shame was intense.
Yesterday, Dave Winer came to the rescue, with a post titled “How to avoid sounding like a monkey”:
before we talked about social graphs we called them social networks, and you know what — they’re exactly the same thing, and social network is a much less confusing term, so why don’t we just stick with it? (Answer: we should, imho.) So if you don’t want to sound like an idiot, call a social graph a social network and stand up for your right to understand technology, and make the techies actually do some useful stuff instead of making simple stuff sound complicated.
Most sensible thing I’ve read in ages.