Since its launch in 2004, Facebook has fundamentally changed the way interactions occur online. Fast forward to February 2012, and Facebook has 845 million active users representing a sizeable portion of the worldwide internet population. Allowing the world to be more connected, Facebook plans to extend these connections to all corners of the web with its Open Graph.
What exactly is the Open Graph?
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In a nutshell, the Open Graph is Facebook's technology allowing companies developers to turn their data into objects Facebook users can interact with through real-world actions.
Mark Zuckerberg calls this "the most transformative thing we've ever done for the web". He claims that these connections are happening all over the world, and "if we can take these separate maps of the graph and pull them all together, then we can create a Web that's smarter, more social, more personalised, and more semantically aware." How does it actually work?
Open Graph applications will allow users to share meaningful social actions such as "Joe tasted Pinot Noir with Sarah and John at Cool Wine Bar". Facebook will understand the action labelled "taste", and then will display meaningful aggregations of this action when 'friends' make similar posts. The object called "Pinot Noir" will also point to a specific Facebook location (assisted by Bing) on the web dedicated to Pinot Noir.
Feeling like newsfeeds are already spammed with useless junk? Why would users want to see every single action a 'Friend' makes inside an Open Graph application?
The good news is that not everything will be seen. Open Graph actions are only posted to the ticker, on the right side of the Facebook Timeline, and in the user's timeline. Only if Facebook starts to notice interesting trends relating to the same action types will aggregated information be displayed in the newsfeed.
It seems that Facebook is forging its way across the web to personalise everything. Zuckerberg claims the web is at a turning point, because "up until recently, the default on the Web has been that most things aren't social and most things don't use your real identity". The open graph will result in a world where fans' identities will no longer be defined by things just on Facebook, but rather by actions all over the Web.