Disclaimer: The developers of this fine agency have been instructed to drop a bit of knowledge on the masses. You should expect some rants and raves about the latest APIs and the newest gadgets on the market.
When the new features of the Graph API were announced at f8, I started freaking out because of all of the new connections that were possible now. I sat in a few of the sessions pondering how I could import my seven years of last.fm history into the graph and wondering what interesting patterns would be revealed on my Timeline. I cracked jokes between sessions with Chris on the different silly apps we could make using the custom verbs and nouns. I walked through the beautifully grungy Mission District of San Francisco thinking of all the meaningful applications that would come from these changes and how I wanted to use them to highlight a person’s real world experiences online. I couldn’t stop thinking about how revolutionary the new system was because it allows developers to define any and all interactions, from physical to digital, that a person goes through throughout their life. Then on my flight back to Dallas, I sat down next to a fellow f8 attendee and had concerns about user’s feeling of privacy and the adoption rate of people willing to expose themselves in such a way. Blergh.
For those that don’t know already, the new Graph API adds the ability for an application to define bespoke nouns beyond the objects defined at ogp.me as well as the verbs that a user can perform on objects. The caveat with this system is that it requires a developer to create the verb/noun combinations. Unlike the Like button, these new features aren’t “off the shelf,” so clients will need a technical team to take advantage of the new graph. All custom nouns and verbs are bound to an application name space, defined inside the developer’s app tool and subject to Facebook approval.
An awesome feature of the new Open Graph is that it requires no extra actions as far as the user is concerned. Once the user authenticates with the application, stories are automatically added to the Graph for the user. Spotify is one of the first kinds of applications that perform background story creation. Once I listen to a track, it automatically is logged to the Ticker, the News Feed (if it’s prevalent to one of my friends) and the Timeline if I give Spotify access to my timeline. This feature, along with ticker, adds the opportunity for spontaneous app discovery and social interaction.
Graph Rank is the new algorithm that decides if users see my actions on the news feed and on Timeline. While this is a closed algorithm, I’ve been able to learn a few basic rules to the system. For example, the rarer the story, the more likely it is to show on News Feed and on Timeline. The stronger the graph connections between two users, the more likely it is for a story to appear on News Feed. Frequent stories are very likely to show up on Timeline as an aggregation. These rules come in handy when you’re trying to target different feeds inside Facebook.
I imagine that we’ll see some very innovative apps with the features added to the Graph API. If privacy is your concern, you should take a look at the privacy settings that Facebook has been working on. An application’s published stories can be defaulted to any privacy level including public, friends only, certain groups and even set to only display for yourself. Imagine tracking your financial status and spending patterns against all of the other graph connections you create over the course of a few years. To me, it sounds a little scary on one level but totally awesome and incredible on another. The power of the new Open Graph is going to change the way we connect.