Jun. 29, 2009

Fred Wilson on Social Media

Fred Wilson is a venture capitalist with a knack for explaining the power of social media in plain English. I am a junkie for the latest developments in the web, and I’ve become addicted to his blog, called A VC.

In this interview, he talks at length about the rise of social media — Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and blog comments, mainly — and why in the aggregate they will soon rival Google as the primary source of passed information on the web. The interview runs a little over thirty minutes but it’s well worth your time if you are interested in social media.

I think all writers, including novelists, simply have to be on top of this stuff. For all the paeans we hear about the glory of traditional printed books, the fact is the internet utterly transforms our business and our art.

Anyway, for a taste of Wilson’s sort of insight, here is an excerpt from the interview, on why Twitter succeeds better than Facebook as a viral medium (this snippet comes at about 26:30 in the video).

Fred Wilson: … Search is very intent-driven: I want to buy a digital camera, I go, I search, I buy. The passed-links thing is much more serendipitous. StumbleUpon, I think, was a very interesting service … But it was very serendipitous, right? You stumbled upon something. And I think that Twitter and Facebook and social media more broadly, I think, is a more powerful way of that serendipity. You want, I think, in life, you want some things you subscribe to, you want some things that you go search for, and then everything else you want to come at you through some filtered set of trusted sources.

Interviewer: Through what Mark [Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder] calls the “social graph.”

Fred Wilson: Correct. But the social graph — the problem that Facebook has, and they know it, is that there are a lot of people out there who are not friends who are really powerful social recommenders, and you’re just not going to have them in your social graph in the original instantiation of the way Facebook was set up. So I think blogging to me is the proper model, and I think that the people who started Twitter launched Twitter with the blogging model, which is: I can follow you and you don’t have to read me, and we don’t have to be friends but you can be influential. And that is, I think, a more natural model.

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