Friday, February 01, 2008

URLs are People, Too


So you've just built a totally sweet new social app and you can't wait for people to start using it, but there's a problem: when people join they don't have any friends on your site. They're lonely, and the experience isn't good because they can't use the app with people they know. You could ask them to search for and add all their friends, but you know that every other app is asking them to do the same thing and they're getting sick of it. Or they tried address book import, but that didn't totally work, because they don't even have all their friends' email addresses (especially if they only know them from another social networking site!). What's a developer to do?

One option is the new Social Graph API, which makes information about the public connections between people on the Web easily available and useful. You can make it easy for users to bring their existing social connections into a new website and as a result, users will spend less time rebuilding their social networks and more time giving your app the love it deserves.

Here's how it works: we crawl the Web to find publicly declared relationships between people's accounts, just like Google crawls the Web for links between pages. But instead of returning links to HTML documents, the API returns JSON data structures representing the social relationships we discovered from all the XFN and FOAF. When a user signs up for your app, you can use the API to remind them who they've said they're friends with on other sites and ask them if they want to be friends on your new site.

The video below can walk you through the API in detail, but if you're eager to get started check out the Social Graph API homepage and the developer documentation. And let us know what you think in the Social Graph API Group.

31 comments:

  1. Wow! Bravo!

    Some initial feedback from semwebbers:
    http://chatlogs.planetrdf.com/swig/2008-02-01.html#T20-21-05

    (Nitpick - FOAF connections aren't really link /annotations/, rather they're globally typed links - the relations have URIs too).

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  2. [this is great] nice work!

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  3. Slightly bigger quibble (I just saw google-sgnodemapper) -

    if Brad is http://brad.livejournal.com/, how do you say
    "http://brad.livejournal.com/ was authored by Brad" ?

    See also : WebArch, Google httpRange-14

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  4. Sorry, one last see also re. sgn:// scheme - URNs, Namespaces and Registries :
    This finding addresses the questions "When should URNs or URIs with novel URI schemes be used to name information resources for the Web?" and "Should registries be provided for such identifiers?". The answers given are "Rarely if ever" and "Probably not". Common arguments in favor of such novel naming schemas are examined, and their properties compared with those of the existing http: URI scheme.

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  5. This is wonderful. Thank you so much for doing this.

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  6. httpRange-14 was the first thing that popped into my mind as well.

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  7. You'd think that Google could hire someone to whip up a power-point or something :-)

    Nice work...

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  8. It's very interesting, Thanks.

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  9. How big the graph currently? Will it be made available for research?

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  10. although i see the benefits in terms of convenience, i can't help but wonder about privacy issues

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  11. If I enter my LJ account, it gives me photo parameter like this:
    "photo": "sgn://livejournal.com/?ident\u003duserpic"

    It's possible that SGN library is making a mistake identifying "userpic" as user's identity.

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  12. Excellent! When PubSub started StructuredBlogging some years ago I expected that some of the major search engines would consider picking up the structured information we already have out in the wild. Technorati followed up with Microformats, now Google and XFN/FOAF

    I can imagine that Google has been playing around with these technologies internally, but having APIs is a different thing.

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  13. Great work! Takes us closer in describing social web.

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  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  15. Why not make one for business also :) - rel="business met"

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  16. Will it work with Facebook?

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  17. You, sir, are a mind reader! I realize that many of the sites that are now wildly successful got that way by being responsive and innovative. Does anyone else that isn't into funding and media not realize that we have had it up to here (motioning with left hand to forehead) with another site that refuses to import our profile and can't seem to get the whole openID concept?
    http://carterfsmith.blogspot.com/2008/01/there-can-be-too-much-of-good-thing.html

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  18. This post describes the problem I have after registering for most social networks. Most of them ask me to pull data in from other places by asking for the userid and password of other services. From a security perspective, I don't like doing that. Your idea is a better way.

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  19. sounds useful, definitely a to try thing

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  20. I'm still confuse about that.. please tell me about this indormation because I'm newbie in blogger

    Visit my blog :
    http://henry-business-and-marketing.blogspot.com/

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  21. "We're sorry, this video is no longer available."

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  22. Just perfect work!
    By the way, video is working, Hex.

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  23. Post all your links about video sharing scripts and sites

    videosharingsites.blogspot.com/

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