Your address book is your social network

The Important Part: The people at Facebook describe your list of “friends” (contacts) as being your “social-graph.” Others use the term “social network” to describe in broad terms, your network of connections with other people. Chances are, you call that list of connections your “address book.” In the previous century, you may have called it your Rolodex. Your ability to export that list of contacts from your computer out to web services (geek word of the day – “portability”) is one of the building blocks of a future web where you can go onto any new site or service and instantly discover everyone using it who may be a friend of your second-cousin, Herbert. Today, Google announced that the newest update of the Mac operating system includes a preference in the “Address Book” program that will keep the Mac address book synch’d with the contact list on ones Google G-mail account. Why is this significant? There are lots of really smart people and groups working on standards and practices related to how someone “asserts” their online identity and their connections with others — and how web services should respect how individuals utilize such personal data. However, until the day comes when all of those standards and practices are worked out, your personal e-mail address and your phone number are serving as a form of “de-facto” identifier of who you are. Likewise, your list of e-mail contacts are filling the gap on identifying your social network. And until the powers-that-would-like-to-be all agree upon what your portable “social network/graph” is going to be and how it’s going to work, your address book has become a stand-in. That’s why, when you sign onto a new social networking site, they ask if you want to allow them to bounce your e-mail contact list up against their list of registered users. That way, you can discover who among your contacts are already using the service.

Take Away: For Apple Address Book users who used to have to “export” and “upload” your contact list manually, you now have one-click portability (and on-going syncing) to your Google G-mail contacts list of your most important “social graph.” And from your Google contacts, you can blast that social graph to infinity and beyond (or whatever Google Friend Connect is).

Related rambling: About a year ago, I talked about the concept of e-mail address as universal identifyer in a lengthy post.

[Photo credit: jcroach, Flickr.]

Google Maps (with more)

The Important Part: Since May 14 , you can click on the “More” link at the top of a Google Maps location to see photos (via Panoramio.com ) and explanations (via Wikipedia ) of points of interest. … View Larger Map The Take Away: Users of Google Earth will recognize the “More” feature as a pathway to the ” layer-fication ” of Google Maps.

The Important Part: Since May 14, you can click on the “More” link at the top of a Google Maps location to see photos (via Panoramio.com) and explanations (via Wikipedia) of points of interest. For example, here is a map of Nashville with the “More” features selected.



View Larger Map

The Take Away: Users of Google Earth will recognize the “More” feature as a pathway to the “layer-fication” of Google Maps. It is also a great example of a “nonlinear” approach to presenting information (or, as the engineering-types say, “data points”). I predict that before long, the “More” tab will include a check-box that has the word “News” on it. It will provide a geographical mash-up view of stories indexed by Google News. That’s not much of a long-shot prediction, however, as the news-layer feature was added to Google Earth last week.

Update: A mere 24 hours later, and Google has another announcement – that Google Earth can be viewed via a new browser plug-in. This isn’t going to replace Google Maps, just make Google Earth a little more accessible and capable of being integrated with third-party applications. Unfortunately, I can’t give the plug-in a review since currently, it’s only available for Windows users.

Google will get right on it

During the past 24 hours, I’ve been reminded why I like to have programs that operate on my desktop. Granted, if anyone is going to convince me that having all my documents and office-tool software online, in “a cloud,” is going to work for me, it will be Google. Google has the resources to own server farms the size of Wisconsin. So when Google can’t get it done, I begin to wonder if anyone can. During the past 24 hours, I’ve received three different signals from Google that maybe I shouldn’t have faith in anyone’s ability to be up 100% of the time:

The irony of one of those messages is especially choice: “Something bad happened. Don’t worry, though. The Spreadsheets Team has been notified and we’ll get right on it.”

I can imagine being in the midst of a budget presentation and getting that message: “Don’t worry, Google will get right on it.”

And now, for some shadow puppet shows.

Google’s new Not Found feature is really fun

As this press release and resulting barrage of blogospheric coverage has pointed to the dead link http://www.google.com/friendconnect all day (the site goes live tonight), it makes me wonder just how many “eyeballs” this “Not Found” message has attracted. Could it be a one-day page-view record for a 404 Error message? They could have at least slapped a few Google ads on it to generate some revenue. I thought I’d post a screen grab here for posterity.

The Tumblr-fication of Google Reader

A new feature that will be recognized as a tumblelog by the tiny fraction of the world’s inhabitants who might know what a tumblelog is, has been added to Google Reader. Wisely recognizing that tumblelog is a far-edge concept, Google chose not use such a term in announcing the feature on the Google Reader weblog.


I would spend a sentence or two describing why I think it is odd that Google is getting into tumblelog hosting through its RSS newsreader platform, however, the explanation would be so esoteric that even my eyes are glazing over at the thought of how geeky my reasoning is. It has to do with having a feature as a part of an RSS reader for sharing items one finds via means other than an RSS reader — but like I said, who cares?

Maybe it will be a great feature for someone. But I’m scratching my head at who might use it other than current Google Reader users who already have a “share” feature. Wouldn’t someone who might actually comprehend what’s going on with the tumblelog aspects of this feature prefer to display such sharing gestures at a URL like rex.tumblr.com than, say, http://www.google.com/reader/shared/02167497403971826980?

Or perhaps I’m having difficulty understanding it because I rarely use Google Reader.

Sidenote: If you want to see a tumblelog, RexHammock.com is an example. It’s where I share items I run across that are bigger than a bookmark and smaller than a blog post and less fleeting than a tweet on Twitter. And another thing: if something makes it to my tumblelog, chances are it has nothing to do with business or technology or media or anything remotely related to this weblog. And wisely recognizing that few people I know use the term tumblelog, I don’t refer to it as a tumblelog except in blog posts about the topic of tumblelogs.