Thursday, September 22, 2011

Social Graph: The Philosophy of Existence.

The first post of this social-graph series explained the scheme of things and the second post looked at the broad types of activities one can perform over the graph and the experiences that are possible using edge devices.

In this post, I ponder (philosophically) on the nature and the context of the social graph from the perspective of why it matters or why people participate.

Its been found that even bacteria-infecting viruses (called phages) do communicate through chemical markers (viral gene expressions based on genomes and proteins) in the host system to make collective decisions to either remain in a latent state or to attack the host. The point is? Well, the point is that life, it seems, is inherently and implicitly social, both by nature and context (voluntarily and involuntarily).

In-fact, i have a amateur-theory that all organisms are hardwired by nature to engage with other organisms in order to get fitter in the cycle of evolution. The fitness is based on the 'access' and evolution of 'shared' knowledge (of a particular gene state in a host, or the economic output of a country, or any other esoteric inter-galactic protocol).

Given that humans are organisms blessed with superior interaction skills, our incentives are primarily driven by engaging with each other, often emphatically, based on many different 'intents of life'. The intents of life can be shaped up from a functional context as understood from previous posts or also based on 'tastes' and 'interests'. Note that I am generalizing all intentions that forms different context and still call them as social-graphs . In many places, people have coined many other terms such as interest-graph or taste-graphs and have provided interesting connotations for these topologies (I will provide my opinions on this in future posts). For me, simply put, if Individuals are socially networking, then its a social-graph. The rest of it is a signalling discussion around the context. IMO, the intents only bind the domain of discourse of the graph establishing a context.

To illustrate, If I am interested in bird watching, I would love to engage with fellow bird watchers to exchange notes, discuss, and learn about this domain. Now, will I choose to search for others sharing similar interest over my friends network (Facebook, Twitter etc..), or will I form a separate group, or will I move to a separate social-graph for bird watchers is again a discussion of semantics. Lets for a moment assume that there is a bird-watchers fan-page or a group as part of a established social network (say Facebook) and call it a platform.

Every time people engage with each other over a topic of interest over a domain (on a platform), they refine the knowledge-base within that domain and take it to the next level (evolution). Note that in the process of engagement, I may also want to date, hang-out and party with people who are like minded. The pleasure modules in the brain is incentivized in this 'interest seeking' behavior to feel good about engaging with other humans on the topic of interest that are close to our heart(?). In effect, when we say we engage socially, we involve the faculties of both Cognition (understand, learn) and Psyche (perceive, emote) to derive conclusions of such engagements. it is almost a driver of life, that we voluntarily or in-voluntarily participate in social-graphs then.

Given the connectedness of the digital world, it became quickly obvious that establishing context specific platforms over the Internet (the digital nervous system) to enable such interactions is a natural hit. As hypothesized, it becomes natural for us humans to gravitate towards such platforms which enables access to others so as to share our life's intent enriching our experiences.

The nature of such engagements happens over different styles of communication as follows:

  • Synchronous or Asynchronous (relevant based on the flow of info and immediacy) 
  • Closed or Open ended (status versus questions)
  • Private or Public (Inside a closed virtual room or on a wall)
  • Unicasted or Broadcasted (one-to-one or group messages)
  • Organized or Un-organized (hashed, tagged, categorized)
  • Structured or Loose (Text heavy or template based)
  • Animated or Bland (Exchange of Narratives, Theatricals and Videos)
  • Location specific or Global (My locality, state, country...)
  • Discovery versus Recovery (Find something new versus fetch something I know)

Again, it has to be noted that the styles of engagements are chosen primarily based on the combinatorics of dimensions that we have understood in the past posts such as the functional domains, the edge-device profiles, the device experiences (upright, lean-back, lean-forward) and also on the intent of accessing or sharing information and the conclusions that are sought for such engagements. So, again, not all engagement styles are suitable for a given combination of device-profile, device-experience, environments and engagement intents. (much to ponder and innovate here BTW)

Now, then, it starts getting interesting to study and analyze the usage profiles and behavior of humans (to access and share info) through such bounded context of different social-graphs. The intents that are captured, the knowledge disseminated, diffused, built or contained in such graphs becomes extremely important to push the bounds of human evolution a bit further. Of-course such knowledge gets extremely enticing to all practitioners from the functional domain, be it marketers, sellers, buyers, recruiters or also to linguists, sociologists, politicians, economists, logicians, biologists etc...

We can conclude that Social graphs do matter and it is natutral for people to participate. And, what about the evolution? The reach and relevance, unprecedented. The potential and imagination, unbounded.

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