Zuckerberg himself, whose baby-faced looks at 23 would lead any bartender in America to scrutinize his driver’s license carefully before serving a mojito, eschews talk about money. It’s all about building the company. Speaking with NEWSWEEK between bites of a tofu snack, he is much more interested in explaining why Facebook is (1) not a social-networking site but a “utility,” a tool to facilitate the information flow between users and their compatriots, family members and professional connections; (2) not just for college students, and (3) a world-changing idea of unlimited potential. Every so often he drifts back to No. 2 again, just for good measure. But the nub of his vision revolves around a concept he calls the “social graph.”
As he describes it, this is a mathematical construct that maps the real-life connections between every human on the planet. Each of us is a node radiating links to the people we know. “We don’t own the social graph,” he says. “The social graph is this thing that exists in the world, and it always has and it always will. It’s really most natural for people to communicate through it, because it’s with the people around you, friends and business connections or whatever. What [Facebook] needed to do was construct as accurate of a model as possible of the way the social graph looks in the world. So once Facebook knows who you care about, you can upload a photo album and we can send it to all those people automatically.”
I’ll have more to say about this article later; for the last few weeks I haven’t been talking about much else on this blog, as you see here. For now, just go here and give it a read, and also check out the related articles here, here and here.
What do you think about the Newsweek cover story?