Nick Charlton

The Social Graph & Thoughts on Identity

Maciej Ceglowski on “The Social Graph is Neither”

“Asking computer nerds to design social software is a little bit like hiring a Mormon bartender. Our industry abounds in people for whom social interaction has always been more of a puzzle to be reverse-engineered than a good time to be had, and the result is these vaguely Martian protocols.”

Attempting to apply a graph to people works in the first instance. But, whilst we are all connected, we are connected to each other in mind bogglingly different ways. And, people care about that.

“Social networks exist to sell you crap. The icky feeling you get when your friend starts to talk to you about Amway, or when you spot someone passing out business cards at a birthday party, is the entire driving force behind a site like Facebook.”

And:

“Now tell me one bit of original culture that’s ever come out of Facebook.”

Facebook and Google+ are passing phases. Hopefully the end of this phase will hurry up. Pictures of kittens might get tedious, but I can’t imagine a web without them. And anyway, “Liking” is “shit work”..


To me, a more important problem to solve is that of identity. A lot of smart people were working on things like OpenID (and then they went to work for Google & Facebook. sigh.) Whilst I think OpenID had its flaws, every design can be iterated on. The growth of “Sign in with [Twitter/Facebook/Google/etc.]” makes me sad.

I talked about this briefly at the weekend with Ben. We didn’t come to much of a solution, other than thinking that something like ssh-agent might work.

As humans, we are too ready and willing to give up the one thing we truly defines us: Our Identity.