Can a social graph last more than 10 years?

Hunter Walk wrote an excellent post the other day about whether one social graph can rule them all or not. Hunter is in the latter camp. And it’s clear by our investments at Spark and my social mobile/web activity that I agree with him (location, mobile, music, education, photos, television, et al).

But the one thing Hunter points out is something I’ve heard a number of folks bring up and it always make me pause. And it’s independent of the “one social graph to rule them all question”. Namely, can any social graph last more than 10 years?

We haven’t seen it yet. 

But I believe the answer to this questions is yes. At least for the best ones.

Because the graph we have today is much more interesting and useful than previous graphs. We are connected in new ways that touch us deeply. And they have their own characteristics. And many of the previous graphs that died at before their 10th birthday self imploded with feature creep and bloatware. I don’t think MySpace died because of fatigue. I think it died because of a combination of neglect and poor product decisions. 

Earlier today, I made my 10k tweet. I did that in over 5 years. I’m betting I’ll certainly be using Twitter 5 years from now. The service has stayed remarkably clean as hundreds of millions of users have joined. I can’t think of another service that reach such scale and kept the same discipline. It’s simply extraordinary. 

The other thing that makes me optimistic is how we see the best graphs have single player and multiplayer characteristics. Fred highlights his use of Foursquare Lists and that’s a wonderful example. (And I benefited big time from his lists on my vacation!)

I find Tumblr has it’s own unique single and mutliplayer modes. My posts on Tumblr live on and get user enagement and feedback days or weeks after the post goes live. I’ve never seen ongoing activity like that with any other graph or network.  

Take this post for example. I wrote it at the end of October.


Pretty much every week, I see in my Tumblr feed that someone has liked or reblogged it. So far it has received over 1k notes (likes and reblogs). 

I wrote that post for my benefit. It is a quote I keep in the back of mind almost daily. But clearly others are appreciating/benefiting from that line as well. 

My Tumblr also bears my own custom domain. Most people view my Tumblr content in their Tumblr Dashboard (feed) but many hit it directly. And it feels like its mine. It’s my little piece of the web that I call my own. And I take care of it daily. I hope it will be here tomorrow, next month, next year and next decade.

But the question remains and the jury is still out. Will the companies of today keep their social graphs vibrant, healthy, disciplined and fulfilling for 10 years or more.

I’m hoping the best ones can do it.