Microsoft turns into a social network leveraging their IM social graph

By November 13, 2008 3 Comments

TechCrunch wrote last night about Sweeping Changes At It’s a Social Network!.  They are doing a lot of quite cool sounding stuff, including a Friendfeed like feature that allows you to track what your buddies are doing all over the web.  You can see it here.

The interesting piece for me is that they are inferring the social graph from Instant Messenger.  It has long seemed sensible to me that building from existing social graphs (email, IM, phone records etc.) is a better way to go than building a new one from scratch as we have all been doing on Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn etc., although there are many tricky issues around service design.  Google and Microsoft think the same way according to this Techcrunch post of a year ago, although we have yet to see thought translated into action.

Infering social networks for the implicit social graphs embedded in other communication media wouldn’t have worked in the early days of Friendster and Myspace because for most of us most of the people we were emailing/IMing/phoning weren’t yet into social networking.  That has obviously changed, so the time might be now.

Whether Microsoft will make a success out of this clever thinking is a different matter of course, but my guess is that pretty soon someone will.