Introducing Facebook’s Graph Search

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It’s been a while since Facebook has done anything interesting enough for me to write about. The wait is over, apparently, as today Mr. Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s new Graph Search. What is Graph Search? No, it’s not a method for finding a visual for your business stats course. It is Facebook’s way of “giving back” to its users a little of that user data it has been hoarding for the past 6 or so years.

Introducing Graph Search

Graph Search is essentially a search engine of Facebook’s “social graph” – a network dataset which describes the connections between people, or in other terms “the global mapping of everybody and how they’re related” per Wikipedia. Apparently, Facebook has been developing this engine for years, and either has finally perfected it or has simply gotten to the point where there are enough datapoints to make such a search tool viable – there are more than 1 billion people, 240 billion photos and 1 trillion connections within the social graph.

How does it work? Users (it is only in limited beta preview for U.S. users only) will be able to search queries across this graph like “people who eat sushi” or “people who eat sushi who also live in Seattle.”  Or, you can search things like “TV shows that my friends watch” or “languages my friends speak.” Or maybe “places my friends visit.” The results that come up are culled from your Facebook friends, as well as other information made publicly available by others on Facebook. Scary? Perhaps a little, but Facebook assures that users will only be able to search the content that has been made available to them. The net effect is that everyone’s search results for the same query will be different and custom tailored to them and their own social graph.

When it rolls out, users will see a search box at the top of the Facebook site that invites you to “search for people, places and things.” It will predict your search as you type, offering options, and the results page can be further filtered and massaged. Results will be ranked with the highest hits being the ones with the most interactions, likes and comments. Web searches can also be run – Facebook has partnered with Bing to provide those results to you.

Obviously, you are thinking about privacy right now. And you are right to do so, particularly when Facebook rolls out something new. Facebook is moving preemptively to assuage concerns – check out the video below:

What about the business angle? Graph Search will work for business Pages too. Along with the organic results for business-related inquiries, Facebook has indicated it will include sponsored links in the results. Obviously, making sure your Page is up to date, adding new content and cultivating fans and interactions will be important in securing high spots in more searches.

No matter how one feels about privacy, Facebook, etc., there is no doubt that Facebook’s new Social Graph Search is a huge announcement. Google has no access to this wealth of personal data. Facebook clearly is positioning itself as a formidable search option when those personal connections are a priority. And, as the world becomes more and more impersonal, those connections are sure to gain importance.

The Intersection of Social Media & … Motion Practice?

Batman-Bitch-Slap

O.k. I know it. I am breaking my own rule. I vowed not to post again about another attorney’s misfortune. But I seriously can’t resist this one, because it involves court practice and social media and, therefore, fits within the general topical framework employed around here. My advice? Don’t mess with Texas. Again.

Hughes-Facebook-Order-600x688

 

Hat Tip to Above the Law

Jift App Offers Combined Facebook, Google+ Experience

 

Is your time worth money? Do you dislike having to spend precious time attending to two social networks? Well, if your preferred soc-nets include Facebook and Google+ and you rock an iDevice, you might be interested in the Jift app. Jift is a unified iOS client for Facebook and Google+, allowing you to quickly shift between one or the other or use both simultaneously. The app’s stream combines content from Facebook’s and Google+’s home pages. Interact with comments, likes, +1’s and shares, and add content to the sites from the app as well. You can access a unified Notifications stream or shift left or right to get only Google+ or Facebook notifications. One check-in can reflect on both sites.

The coolest feature for me – the cross-posting / sharing ability – comes with the paid Pro version for $1.99, but also shows as a $.99 in app purchase in the free version. Haven’t quite figured that one out yet.

Personal information is stored locally and you log in within the app using OAuth.

If you want to streamline your browsing and sharing experience across these two social networks, then you might have to agree that Jift is brilliant. Nice way to condense that time wasting into one glance at the iDevice.

ResumUP Your Resume

More on the visual front. I am a big fan of the new wave of visually-inspired resume builders. ResumUP is a new player in this field with a very easy, detailed resume creation tool built on Facebook and LinkedIn. The tool is in beta, but from my view point, works just fine. The resume piece offers great depth in editing professional and educational experience, achievements and career focus, as well as boxes for pycho-social elements to fill out your character profile. The result is quite gorgeous, full of charts, detail and color.

 

But ResumUP doesn’t stop at your background. You can also make your job searching intentions known on the site, and employers can search and post “visual vacancies.”  The job postings mirror the visual style of the resumes, with corresponding charts and graphics for job description, experience levels, necessary skills, benefits and compensation. Check out some of the sample postings here.

 

Of course, there is a social piece. You can take advantage of a dashboard when you connect with friends on the site. Plus there are plenty of sharing tools for spreading your resume, with buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. There is a message center within the app. And, you can download your resume in PDF form via the export feature.

 

I think the idea is quite brilliant – the Web is an experiential place. Offering a visually-appealing means to promote yourself and peruse jobs seems a natural fit for how we interact with information. If you would like a peek at how ResumUP works and looks, check out the video below. And take a few minutes to create your own graphic resume at their site.

 

In Case Facebook Timeline Is Giving You Agita

I am seeing all sorts of grumbling in and out of Facebook and across the Web about the new Timeline view. I opted into the view a few months back because, well, why not? I like to try out new things. Although it was a bit confusing for me at first, I have grown to love the look of it and the improved organization it brings to your Facebook life.

Since billions and billions of people use Facebook, making a major interface tweak like Timeline is no small step. It will dramatically affect how you interact vis a vis your Profile. But, if you step back and take a few deep breaths, and do a little reading, you can get the basics down enough to manage your information flow effectively and maybe even show off some slickness.

I find it very nice to be able to scroll up and down to see my Facebook “life” in a visual, chronological order. You can easily navigate all the way back to when you joined Facebook and chuckle at your newbie ways. This seems a far more intuitive way to view the information, once you get used to it.

If you don’t already have Timeline, you will see a prompt when you view your Facebook Profile to check Timeline out. Follow the instructions to enable. If you don’t like it, you can go back to the old style, but remember that Facebook is going to foreclose that option very soon, so it makes sense to get comfortable with the new layout sooner rather than later.

Now, for the slickness. Look toward the top of your profile page and you will see a button that says “add a cover.” This “cover” is a nearly page wide image that can serve as a static visual for your page. Click on it, then select an image from your Facebook photos or load up a new one, make any adjustments you might want and you are good to go. If you are unhappy with your image, never fear. Simply hover over the right side and a button will appear offering you the ability to change that cover. Click on it and follow the same process as above. Looking good!

 

Change the covers of albums by hovering over the album and clicking the pencil to edit by selecting the “change primary photo” option. Or you can even highlight a particular post on your page – just click on the star at the upper right and it will give you the option to increase the post’s size vis a vis other posts.

You can mess around with your Favorites boxes too. These are the little images with titles just below you Cover photo. Friends and Photos have to stay where they are, but the remaining boxes can be shuffled around for maximum effect. Hover over them, click on the pencil and adjust accordingly.

 

 

If privacy is important to you and you are interested in hiding unwanted information / posts from your timeline, you can do so by clicking the Pencil icon at the top right of the post, right next to the star icon showing above. That will give you the option to hide from the timeline. But maybe you still want to be able to see everything – that can be done too. Simply click on the Activity Log button just to the lower right of your cover photo. Then you will see a complete action history broken down by date. This log is only visible to you and it will show stuff you chose to hide from your Timeline view. Filter from the “all” drop down menu at the top right – you can limit activity to certain types for a better look. You can adjust the visibility of individual posts from within the Timeline as well.

Click that little cog to the right of Activity Log and you can switch your view of your own timeline to that of someone else – so you can make sure that you are truly hiding / showing what you want others to not see or see. Maybe you want to share something directly into your Timeline other than the usual stuff of status, photos, etc. There is a way now to insert important or interesting information directly into your Timeline to flesh it out, as it were. You may have notice a line with dots running down the center of your profile page. Simple hover over that line, click on the plus sign that appears at any point in time and up will pop a box allowing you to enter a Status, Photo, Place or Life Event. It’s like going back and editing your past with the stuff you forgot to include the first time around. Not a bad idea if you want to point out some significant achievement or cool happening that you were too busy to post about while you were actually experiencing it.

Dislike ads as much as I do? Then you might like the ability to “x” out an ad you don’t like. It won’t remove ads entirely, but it will get rid of the particularly annoying ones. Just hover over the ad and click the “x” and say Sayonara. If you want to tailor the content you are seeing from friends, head on over to their profile, click on the Subscribe button and select just what you want to see from them.

This should get you well on your way to a Timeline experience you can live with. I daresay you may even enjoy it eventually. It really offers a comprehensive, easy-to-navigate view of your activity on the most popular social network in the world. Spend a few moments learning the ins and outs, tweaking it and kicking the tires, and you will be a Timeline pro in no time.

What's New? Facebook for iPad

It does boggle my mind a bit that it has taken almost two years for Facebook to release an official app to access its popular social network on the most popular tablet on the planet. The new iPad app is now universal – giving iPad users that full screen / full resolution experience. On the pad, you get bigger, better high res photos that you can flip through like a photo album and pinch to zoom, easy navigation with fast multi-touch gestures like tap, slide or pinch to move from one screen to another, built in access to Facebook apps and games, the ability to share content or send messages from the News Feed, and the ability to see who might be nearby with the map feature. Most importantly, you no longer get that grainy 2x image familiar to those who used the iPhone app on the pad.

Facebook also released a new mobile platform for app developers on the same day, giving developers the tools to incorporate their apps right into the mobile experience. As developers leverage the platform, Facebook’s user experience should improve as well – with native or HTML5 incorporation, developers can access the mobile phone’s features within Facebook to deepen the functionality of apps.



As a universal app, these upgrades in functionality are available on the iPhone as well. Nice!

I note that some people have experienced problems updating the app – Facebook recommends that you delete the old app first before trying to install the new app.

Since Facebook is one of my regular iPad stops, I am very happy to see this release.

All You Need To Know About Facebook Subscriptions

The new feature is also going to come with a personalized Suggested Subscription list – a personalized recommendation to help people find interesting non-friends to receive public updates from. Think friend suggestions based on who users have mutual friends with – these will be suggestions for subscriptions based on connections and demographics. There are lots of new bits and pieces of subscription information being published now on the site, no doubt in an effort to increase user engagement with the feature and promote viral adoption. You also will see who has subscribed to who when you visit a person’s profile.

 

Facebook has been a busy bee lately, trying to drag its social network into the modern age with tailored sharing and connecting, much along the lines of the coolest Google + features. I have no problem with that – competition being a good thing and imitation being the highest form of flattery and whatnot. Rather than go through an exhaustive analysis of all of the new features, I thought I would highlight one particular feature that rolled out yesterday that I think could seriously change the entire dynamic of Facebook.

Up until now, there has been this guarded approach to connecting that requires both a friend request and an acceptance in order to open the door to all the valuable content shared on FB. If you are a content junkie, like myself, it is pretty easy to amass a fairly large number of “friends” on the service. But are they all really “friends?” What if you simply want to follow a person, a la Twitter, and see their public information without all the commitment that a formal friend engagement entails?

Facebook Subscriptions will allow just that – the ability to follow another FB user without becoming “friends” and without requiring a mutual relationship – a one-way follow model reminiscent of Twitter. When you subscribe to someone on FB, you will see only their public posts. Tailoring posts has become much easier now that Facebook allows you to set privacy with each individual post via a drop down button in the status box. When you subscribe, you will see the subscription’s public posts and when people subscribe to you, they will see yours.

When you opt into the Subscribe feature (nice FB – thanks for not turning it on by default), people will see a Subscribe button on each person’s profile or on each post in the News Feed. They can click on your Profile  to follow your public posts without first getting your approval. You can set whether or not subscribers can comment on your public posts. Subscribers can specify exactly what kind of content they want to see from you – all updates, most updates or important updates only, photos and vids, status, games, life events, etc.

This feature will definitely appeal to people with broad appeal – those who may have hit the 5,000 friend limit and have had to turn to Pages to manage masses of fans. It might also appeal to the little guy too – you get the option to share with a broader audience and, given FB’s numbers lead when it comes to social network population, this is not a bad thing for on-line publishers and content creators. Will it replace Pages entirely? No – because Pages still offers some features (analytics, multiple admins), that Profiles do not. But, if a person or brand would like to simplify their FB experience into a single presence, the new Subscription feature and the ability to merge Pages with Profiles will allow a more personal and efficient approach. Check out the comparison chart between Pages and Subscriptions below:

Subscriptions are not just for new connections – it also will appeal to anyone who wants to tailor the content they receive from their existing friends, either from their profile or on each post in the News Feed. Use the Subscribe button to limit / define exactly what and how much you want to see. If you subscribe to others, you will see a new Subscriptions entry in the left menu on your profile, from which you can adjust settings.

Behind the scenes, Facebook has implemented some nice touches via their powerful algorithms to tailor content on your News Feed and your notifications. With all the new ways to receive and consume, it is nice to hear that there is some filtering and control available to adjust the settings, so to speak, with decent tweaking on by default. You should be aware that there is no requirement that you enable a Subscription button on your Profile – if you choose not to, your FB experience will not change in any way. But if you do, then you open the door to more engagement with privacy options intact. And there is no doubt in my mind that, while FB has borrowed heavily from the Twitter model, the new features vastly improves on it – offering fine tunnig of content-in and content-out if a far more meaningful way.

I have to say that I am pretty impressed with FB’s bold move here. I had always pegged them as to proud to change that friending model that has defined the service from its start – a service built on “belonging to a club” so to speak. Now everyone can join the club. But you just don’t have to listen to everything each other has to say.

Tour Du Jour: StumbleUpon

I think it is high time to revisit a web application from my very early days of poking around in web applications. StumbleUpon is and has always been one of my fav cool tools and, if nothing else, an incredibly entertaining way to spend time on the Web. If you don’t already know what StumbleUpon is, it is an online community that promotes discovery and rating of Web pages, photos, and videos. To do this, it offers, via the touch of a few buttons, the ability to secure personalized recommendations, using peer reviews and social-networking principles. In a word, its tons of fun.

Some of my early blog posts were the product of successful Stumbleupon jaunts. After setting up my profile and selecting some preferred topics of interests, I would sit at my computer, press the cute little blue and green button and be magically transported to cool pages and information I had never heard of or seen before. The more your rate the results, the better the results get. In a word, the ultimate on-line surfing engine for just about any kind of web content you can imagine.

Stumbleupon is fun, sure, but it is no slouch for professional use, if you are interested in such concepts as increasing web site traffic. I regularly get Stumblers from articles that have gotten posted up on Stumbleupon. And that is no fluke. Recent reports show that StumbleUpon  was the biggest driver of traffic among social media websites during the month of June, 2011, beating even sharing titan Facebook. And just a couple of weeks ago, Stumbleupon started making available a publishing widget for websites and blogs designed to keep readers on the site by offering curated, related article suggestions, much like Outbrain.

And today, in an effort to stay in touch with the cutting edge shiny, it has updated its iPad app with new features that reemphasize the social aspects of the site: there is now a “social bar” at the top of each stumbled page that highlights friends or other users who also liked the page, with the option to to visit their profile and connect.  If you haven’t used StumbleUpon on the iPad, you should – the device and the app are made for each other when it comes to entertaining web consumption on the ultimate consumption device.

So, let’s hear it for StumbleUpon – a great information service with social aspects and the ability to power your on-line campaigns. Oh, and a great way to blow an evening finding cool stuff.

 

Comparing Google+ & Facebook by the Features

PC Mag has a useful infographic that compares the features sets on Google+ and Facebook, side by side. It is valuable to see the features this way, provided you can get past a subtle Google+ preference and some spelling and grammar difficulties. It is also a bit premature to compare the very mature Facebook platform with the still beta, fresh from the lab Google+ – I anticipate seeing scores of more features in + in the ensuing months. Nonetheless, thanks to PC Mag and the creator Technobombs.com for the work on the status of these two platforms at present.