I’ve been thinking for a while now that there will not be one social graph to rule them all (Facebook) but that we will eventually have a multitude of web/mobile services in our lives, each with a social graph we curate specifically for that service. That’s been my gut instinct as I do not believe the Facebook social graph is the right graph for Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, Etsy, Svpply, Boxee, etc, etc, etc.
But what has been less clear to me is how we will make it easy for people to do this curation. I posted some thoughts on this subject last week. And I’ve continued to puzzle on this topic since.
Yesterday, in a series of chats with my colleagues at USV, it started to become clear to me that the mobile phone address book may well be the answer.
I have been using a bunch of mobile messaging apps with social graphs in them. Examples are Kik and Beluga. When you download and startup these apps, they do a query of their user base against your contacts and allow you to easily and quickly add all the people who are in your contacts to your network in these services.
Of course, you could do the same thing with Facebook’s API (unless you are Twitter who they continue to block from doing this). But the truth is that most people have very large social graphs on Facebook and probably don’t want 1000+ people being added to their mobile messaging app. Those same people might have 100 or so people in their mobile phone contacts and these people are certainly exactly the kind of people you would want to add to a mobile messaging app.
Mobile messaging is clearly a perfect match for a contact book on a mobile phone. But all web/mobile services can and should use this move to quickly build application specific social graphs. The people in our phone contacts are our “strong ties” and we should want them in most any social graph we curate.
Every big powerful technology company has met a new technology that has undone their dominance. For Microsoft it was open source and the Internet. For Google, it appears that it may be social. For Facebook, it appears that it may be mobile.