Experiences: December 2008 Archives

Portable Social Graphs, A Popular Topic

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Our Portable Social Graphs deck has been getting a lot of attention since we published it last Wednesday. Its been featured on ReadWriteWeb, Web-Strategist, The Huffington Post, MediaBistro and a bunch of other influential websites. Its been viewed by 13,002 people, embedded 90 times, favorited 142 times and has scores of tweets about it (one of the first written by Jeremiah over at Forrester). The fact that Facebook Connect has just left beta definitely made the deck more timely. We've also gotten a lot of positive direct feedback from clients, the press, peers in the industry and Facebook too. Within Razorfish, we've been discussing Facebook Connect for months on our social media list and as a result were a little surprised by all the attention the deck has gotten.

We're obviously bullish on Facebook Connect and really believe in its potential to allow for friends and family to influence each other across the web (something that's at the heart of social influence marketing). In many respects, it represents the true blurring of the social web and the mainstream web. Needless to say, every other social platform is paying close attention to Facebook Connect. LinkedIn has an API that lets websites integrate LinkedIn's social graph. Its not available to everyone but its a start nevertheless. MySpace just announced that they're formally joining the Google Friend Connect bandwagon allowing universal login. MySpaceID (as its now being called) uses the OAuth, OpenSocial and OpenID open standards. Facebook Connect is not built on open standards which is why it gets some criticism from the web community.

Imagine if Amazon integrated Facebook Connect

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There's been a lot of talk about Facebook Connect lately as more websites integrate it. In fact, just today Techcrunch announced that they were integrating Facebook Connect and rumor has it that Digg and Hulu will be adding the functionality too. 

Here at Razorfish we're big believers in the potential of portable social graphs and with Facebook Connect out of the gate first, we've been playing around with it quite a bit. In fact, its been a really hot topic on our voluminous internal social media list for six months now. So we thought we'd brainstorm some provocative uses of Facebook Connect. Here's what we came up with. Tell us what you think and whether as a digital marketer or web product manager you'd think of implementing ideas like these.

A Thanksgiving to Forget. Mumbai Attacked

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tajonfire.jpgIt has undoubtedly been the most difficult Thanksgiving for me with the Mumbai terrorist attacks starting virtually the moment my holiday began (around 2:00pm EST on Wednesday). Having spent several years in Mumbai as a child, I know both the hotels that were attacked rather well. I used to visit them often and I would drive past the Oberoi on my way to school every morning. 

But closer to home an old friend of my parents (who incidentally was at my wedding this January) was dining at the Taj Hotel when the terrorists attacked. His wife was able to escape but he was marched up to the 18th floor of the hotel by the terrorists and later shot. Yesterday, my mother attended the funeral of a fellow journalist who also died. All in all a horrible, tragic few days. And I can't begin to imagine how it must be for the families who were directly affected. 

Nevertheless, I've been impressed by the courageous citizen journalism that kept the world abreast about the crisis as it unfolded hour by hour and minute by minute. It was another example of ordinary people using social technologies to get the word out, give each other faith, provide needed information when the authorities weren't communicating and help save lives too. Twitter, Flickr, SMS and the blogs were just some of the social technologies used as people communicated with the hotel guests holed up in their rooms telling them when to escape out of the buildings. In fact, 80 messages were being sent to Twitter every five seconds about the attacks.  Twitter also reported that there was still gunfire inside the Taj Mahal hotel long after the mainstream media had said it was finished.

Sure in some cases sensitive information may have been transmitted but the social technologies and social media more broadly once again proved how central and useful it can be in times of crisis. But to me the most important benefit is that social media allows our all our ordinary voices to be heard loud and clear. The most encouraging and dynamic response to the terrorist attacks that I've come across is that of the Mumbai Twitter users. They decided to meet for beer at Leopold Cafe (one of the targets) yesterday. Why? Because they wanted to stand up defiantly and show the terrorists that nothing will stop them from living their lives the way they want to. How were they able to organize this so quickly? By using Twitter.

Nothing is going to lessen the pain of the tragedy for anyone even remotely connected to it. But we can all draw strength from the courage of others and recognize that as ordinary individuals that may get caught in the midst of events that are well beyond our control, there are social technologies that can help today in ways that we never thought possible even fifteen years ago.