Friday, May 23, 2008

Granular Social Networks or What's a Friend?

Thomas Vander Wal is an incredibly forward-thinking guy. I met him about five years ago on a flight home from California. Thomas had just been visiting a company to pitch them the idea of folksonomy. As we were getting ready to take off, Vander Wal described his vision of folksonomy and social tagging. At the time, it was something I had never heard off, but exploded into my consciousness very soon after that. The idea - very crudely; Thomas explains it much better - is that rather than having experts or librarians label or categorize content, we instead have the community collaboratively tag or categorize the content. The concept has been used successfully by sites like delicious, magnolia, and flickr. But Vander Wal's concept is even broader and involves building a social network around that collaborative community. Here's what he described to me - in 2003. Imagine your cell phone equipped with GPS - i.e. it knows where you are. You're walking around the city around dinner time. Your cell phone knows what time you like to eat dinner and what type of food you like, so it alerts you as you approach potential places to eat. As you explore these restaurants, your "phone" searches your social network for reviews that your friends and friends of friends may have posted. Really groundbreaking concepts that are just beginning to be implemented.

Vander Wal still has a lot to say, especially about the overwhelming explosion of social networks. Here's brief video he recorded on Granular Social Networks and how he describes it and a link to a more detailed explanation.
An overview of the complexity in real social network relationships and visualization to help understand the key points that matter - people and interests.

Granular Social Network from Thomas Vander Wal on Vimeo.

1 comment:

Martin said...

Good Job! :)


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