Thursday, January 19, 2012

Could Facebook’s New Open Graph Feature Reduce Web Diameter Even Further?

Today Facebook released a new tool for third party developers, called Open Graph, which will allow any source (website, phone application, camera, etc…) the ability to “share” the user’s actions on their Facebook page. This quickly and easily allows users to share what they have done with their friends on Facebook by posting the new content onto their wall. This feature was being done previously by a limited number of Facebook selected websites such as Spotify for letting people know what music songs the user was listening to. Open Graph now allows for any source to link to Facebook making Facebook a possible central hub for an extremely large strongly connected internet component.

Six degrees of separation is the popular notation for how far apart two distinct nodes are from each other for any given network. For the internet, the 90th percentile estimation or effective diameter is slightly higher at something closer to 8 degrees of separation. However, with the addition of Open Graph, one can imagine that the effective diameter of the internet might decrease dramatically since each link that is shared through Open Graph on Facebook has a corresponding link back to the site from whence it came, when possible. This means that every website that uses Open Graph becomes a part of a constantly growing strongly connected component*. With the release today of a third party tool for developers to integrate Open Graph with their website, any website on the internet can now potentially connect themselves to Facebook making for the possibility, however unlikely, of a completely strongly connected internet.

So a logical question would be to ask: what benefit does Facebook have being the central hub to this large strongly connected component? The answer is quite simple. Facebook is integrating Open Graph with their Timeline feature, allowing Facebook to automatically store everything you have published. This means if you want to know what song you were listening to last week, how far you ran yesterday or even the location of where you took that picture of the cat who rode a bicycle, it will all be saved in your Facebook history which will allow Facebook to target you with better ads and cause you to visit their site more often.

*An assumption is made here that the users of Open Graph have open profiles that allow for anyone else on Facebook to see their posts. In other words, all of Facebook is connected to one another. This is not true for every specific case but is likely true for the whole as the probability of any major website with Open Graph having at least one Facebook user with an open profile is large.

1 comment:

  1. I don't seem to have a record of the author of this post. Can the author please send me an email?