The Portable Graph is essentially a massive database of contacts residing in various social networks. Some social networks can be defined as either “walled” or closed, for intimate or group association, or open, for amassing a broad, popular network.
Cartoon from Office Offline
Closed networks like LinkedIn and Facebook require “two-click” friend confirmations. A salutation is sometimes protocol (I try to say hi to new Facebook acquaintances). These hurdles take time and make it harder to build networks quickly.
Open networks like Twitter and Friendfeed don’t require friend confirmation, just one click on the “follow” button. They facilitate the building of massive stranger networks united by an amalgam of relationships with the hub. This network of strangers can form the basis of a broadcast network.
Friendfeed made it hard to develop a massive network because it was so cumbersome to find friends to follow. They just made it easy by offering a tool that imports Twitter contacts also on Friendfeed. I just made Friendfeed a massive network by importing all those Twitter contacts, and will now focus on Friendfeed as a broadcast application.
Social networks once kept themselves walled to keep users inside and engaged, just like the Berlin Wall. They are now realizing that import tools that facilitate friend portability is a killer app. Facebook Connect is also a type of import tool demonstrated most strikingly today during CNN.com’s coverage of the Obama Inauguration. That’s a separate article:
Final note, 26% of my Twitter following were also on Friendfeed.