The Social Graph is Neither
The Social Graph Is Neither I first came across the phrase social graph in 2007, in an essay by Brad Fitzpatrick, though I'd be curious to know if it goes back further. The idea of representing relationships between people as networks is old, but this was the first time I had thought about treating the connections between all living people as one big object that you could manipulate with a computer. At the time he wrote, Fitzpatrick had two points to make. Fitzpatrick subsequently went to work for Google, and his Utopian vision of open standards and open data became subsumed in a rivalry between Google and Facebook. This rivalry has brought the phrase 'social graph' into wider use. I think this is a fascinating metaphor. But right now I would like to take issue with the underlying concept, which I think has two flaws: I. The idea of the social graph is that each person is a dot in a kind of grand connect-the-dots game, the various relationships between us forming the lines. II.