Does Dave Winer have the power to squash a meme? The term “Social Graph” recently began an infestation of TechMeme. While tied to the interesting issue about who owns a user’s attention data in the context of social networking, the term itself obscured rather than opened the dialogue. Dave Winer objected to the use of the term, even though it was one he was familiar with given his background in mathematics. After reading Winer, Nick Carr was pleased to find that he understood what the term referred to, even if the signifier was unknown.
Can you capture the meme, remove the “Social Graph” signifier, re-attach the “Social Network” signifier and release the meme back into the wild? Can a meme survive that kind of catch and release? After all, it’s not as though “network” doesn’t have plenty of depth for those interested in going deeper. Network theory has a very interesting emerging literature, and has many ties to the mathematics implied by the use of the word “graph.”
Generally the usage of words to signify concepts is determined by common usage, the marketplace of conversation. In this case, the conversation is really a political negotiation for the right to own one’s attention and social network data. The math is the least of it.