Forrester’s Li: If I Were Mark Zuckerberg

Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li, the first keynote speaker of the two-day Graphing Social Patterns West conference that started today in San Diego, said that if she held the keys to the Facebook empire, she would make the social graph open. “Not just the applications,” she told me, “but I would make it Facebook everywhere.”

Her comments were part of a one-on-one conversation following her keynote, during which she laid out what social networks would look like 10 years from now. Subsequent presenters were then forced to explain why their own were still so far off from Li’s vision.

Facebook’s Ben Ling, for example, told the audience that users don’t really want complete data portability. No wonder things are moving along slowly. Li still thinks that we will see some major changes this year, though she cautioned that we won’t see the ubiquitous social network that centers around your email as the constant of your social graph. That, she said, will most likely play out on a large portal site, but not for another five or so.

So how could we speed this whole process up? Well, if she were calling the shots at Facebook, “I would make my social graph open,” Li told me. And not just the applications.

I would preempt all the portals in saying: Instead of using their social map, I’m going to enable you to import your social map into Facebook, and then take it anywhere else you want. If you want to put your social graph in LinkedIn, press a button. You want to upload your Gmail email relationships from a Pop account? And I’m not going to look at the content, I’m just looking at who you are emailing and map those relationships for you that way by email address. They would preempt every single other player from being able to do that. They will keep all those early adopters and pioneers from going some place else to do that aggregation.

Mark, are you listening?