When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

22 September 2007

social graphs = social networks

There's a lot of buzz now about business strategies revolving around "social graphs."

If you've ever tried to figure out what a "social graph" really is as a term of art (it has to do with a branch of mathematics called graph theory) and how it's actually different from what we've all been calling "social networks," Dave Winer helpfully explains this for you:
Graphs are useful for modeling stuff that goes on in computers. They are also part of a field of math called combinatorics that's related to statistics, and also related to a highly theoretical area of math called topology...

...[B]efore 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.
If you're a specialist in any field of endeavor, you can probably come up with many examples of how a "term of art" in your field has a subtly--or radically--different meaning as a word in common English usage.

If you're trying to communicate with people, here's a big hint: Use the word--or the meaning--that they're likely to understand.

How to avoid sounding like a monkey (Dave Winer, Scripting News, 21 September 2007)

No comments: