Just back from an awesome lecture by Raghu Ramakrishnan (Yahoo Research/U Wisconsin) entitled “Community Systems: The World Online.” Wow. The talk should be online here soon. In my head I’ve always kind of associated social websites like flicker, youtube, etc as “stuff for fun” so to speak. But Raghu makes a strong case, I think that these sorts of websites are actually the manner in which make the next step towards improving the responsiveness of the web. Okay so maybe that wasn’t his main point, but I’d like to argue that this idea was a valid conclusion to draw from his talk. Indeed, some might even claim that the new boom (Are we at the beginning? Hop on quick youngsters!) in websites with a “social” aspect (by which I mean all sites which have a community aspect, not just those with a “social” component) is all about the increased usefulness of exploiting the community link networks for increased functionality on using the web. It is almost like, as Google moved beyond Altavista (and others) use of one link in anchor text to many links, these social sites are experience a similar revolution in the mining of the community information links beyond the simple one link stage.