Passive social networks13 Jul 2004
Gmail is an interesting excersise in the economics of information markets that I mentioned to you yesterday. Google is creating an artificial shortage of gmail accounts by only releasing accounts to people already with an account.
Creating an artificial shortage of something that’s in (virtually) unlimited supply is an interesting way to create an awful lot of demand. It’s also interesting because by having this system for distributing email addresses google is learning something about the relationships between it’s networks. It could, in theory, build a friendster-like relationship database just by watching what parties correspond by email, or over the web by observing which parties link to other parties. What’s interesting about this is that they can be able to build this social network structure pasively (by observation) rather than actively (by some person clicking on ‘this other person is my friend’).