Its so fun to write oversimplified posts about such-and-such is dead. Not because its true. At best you can point out something is broken and alternatives are rising fast.
But I wonder how the people behind the aging technology and cash cow think of it. And some of the most interesting conversations must have been within Google as Facebook was rising up to close the open web, by making new things the web was perhaps missing openly available at scale. Conversations that effect us all.
Maciej Cegłowski has a new, but good-old social software post, about how the abstractions that are social networking sites will never reflect real social networks, and how brands awkwardly fit in them. Pull quotes:
"If the social graph is crude oil, doesn't that make our friends and colleagues the little animals that get crushed and buried underground?"
"Asking computer nerds to design social software is a little bit like hiring a Mormon bartender."
"Imagine the U.S. Census as conducted by direct marketers - that's the social graph."
"Now tell me one bit of original culture that's ever come out of Facebook."
Today Google+ opened up the first iteration of its Brand Pages. As with anything big and new in social they are met with both joy, fear and skepticism. A visceral new example of Maciej's quote on marketers above.
You see, as Facebook effectively took a massive amount of people's time off of the open and discoverable web, and with Like took their gesture otherwise as the big fat input. PageRank initially relied on a few strong inputs from people who realized their own power an skill to publish. Then with social search it didn't need so much power (e.g. this post). Then it was commoditized down to a single click. The single gesture of someone logged in somewhere. Probably where they have committed their time and identity because of a broad social pressure that exists in the real world.
But I found this single image today absolutely stunning:
If it wasn't clear, Google is all-in with +1 and Google+. And interestingly giving brands a very direct role in directing gestures with it. All +1s can be consolidated for a brand. And lo and behold, Google is creating a namespace to replace URLs. If you type + before something in Google or their browser bar, you get autocomplete for a Google+ Brand Page that has aggregated all the gesture in the direction that brand organizes and in part pays for. All SEO practices are about to be rewritten.
But here's what's interesting. +1 keeps evolving towards an alternative to penetrate the social and otherwise closed web without Google+ being sucessfull. I don't think this is a new point, or inherently evil. Its just become more visceral.
Maciej's post focuses on how nodes and edges in a graph can never truly be representational. No more so than how profiles will always be a lie and out of date, but at least they are from just the point of view of an author. But gesture of attention have always been simple enough to say, look here. And with social search you get that fuzzy implicit semantic bullshit to say this language means something like the way you are talking to the command line. Its not as perfect and impossible as ODF bullshit. But its coming faster, with new politics and commercial interests than ever.
The gesture equivalent to making a link of course got easier. But the ownership of that gesture for those who are at scale has as well.
(disclosure, I tried to get a job at Google in 2002. I told them I wanted to build a +/- gesture graph for search, blogging and social networking. Probably bad ideas. I didn't get the job, but that is more proof that I'm a loser than the need for disclosure)