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Friday, June 15, 2012

The Experience Graph

Anyone who has read my blogs in the past (here and here) would know that I am a huge proponent of the interest graph. Its potential and advantages for e-commerce are now very well known and exercised by many startups and organizations. 

I have been working on an initiative for some time now, for which I have come across another kind of graph which has proved to be as interesting, if not more, as the interest graph. I call it the Experience Graph. Now before I go further, others have also explored the "experience graph" before me, and while there is no common universal understanding of the term, I believe that there is a lot of agreement in all definitions. 

What Is An Experience Graph? 
Life is full of many small experiences, which can vary from spending a weekend together with family on a camping trip, to a day at Disneyland, to just a walk in the park. It is these experiences that connect us and stay in our memories. The experience graph is a representation of these experiences. While in a social graph, people are connected with other people they know, and in an interest graph people are connected with other people or entities that they find interesting, in an experience graph people are connected with an experience - which in turn connects them with other people that they lived that particular experience with. What makes the experience graph more interesting is that other people might also have lived similar experiences, and yet other set of people might want to live a similar experience in future, allowing new connections to be formed. These properties of the experience graph make it like a hybrid of social and interest graphs. 

Graph Traversal 
Experience graphs - unlike interest graphs - are undirected, and can be traversed in two ways: experience and person. You can traverse an experience graph from an experience and explore all the people that have lived it or want to live it. You can also start the traversal from a person, and explore all the experiences that he or she has lived in the past or wants to live in future. 

Advantages Of Experience Graph 
An interesting property of the experience graph is that it is more active than either of its two counterparts. For example, in an interest graph, the chances of that interest turning into an action are not very bright and the signals can be subtle. Whereas in an experience graph, if you have lived an experience, you have most certainly actioned it, and if you want to live an experience there is a pretty good chance that you will action it in future. This information can be very helpful for e-commerce purposes. Companies can explore an experience graph of a person to find out the experiences he has lived in the past and the experiences that he wants to live in future. Based on this information, more specific messages and products can be targeted towards that user, with higher chances of the user taking an action - a win-win for both the company and the user. 

Actions speak louder than words, which is why an experience graph of a person can prove to be a better tool for self expression than an interest graph. As the experiences are actually lived by that person, the experience graph can provide a more accurate description of him, even better than an interest graph. 

While we have established examples of social (Facebook) and interest (Twitter) graphs, there isn't an equivalent one for the experience graph. However, there are many startups that are trying to venture in this area and explore the concept further. In addition to the startups, deals providers are also well positioned to explore the experience graph, after all a deal can be mapped to an experience as well. One way or the other, I am certain that we will soon see an established example of an experience graph. 

There is more research I need to do on this topic, and if you have any thoughts in this area please do feel free to share them.


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