TAG: Facebook

You can’t be social by yourself

Found a great explanation of social design from Crysta Metcalf of Motorola, who is currently involved in an ethnographic research project to find out how people communicate through technology: (via experientia)

‘When we talk about the “user experience” the main emphasis is often on an individual’s experience with a particular technology. Even with a purported social technology, for example a social networking site, we still tend to create for the individual’s interaction with the site (how does someone find their friend, how do they access this site easily from a mobile device).

However, designing for sociability means thinking about how people experience each other through the technological medium, not just thinking about how they experience the technology. The emphasis is on the human-to-human relationship, not the human-to-technology relationship. This is a crucial difference in design focus. It means designing for an experience between people.

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Social Classes on Networking Sites

Danah Boyd, who routinely interviews folks who use MySpace and Facebook, says there is a class divide between the services, with Facebook garnering a higher socio-economic class than MySpace.

Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace

As Danah admits, it’s difficult talking about class. I’m always uncomfortable with it because it’s always a spectrum…there is no clear distinction between this class and that class. Even the “cool” kids class had some people who could cross into the “skater” kids class when I was in high school. Also, talking about class can only reinforce it. To that end I wonder what sorts of things we’re going to learn from this distinction…does talking about class make us any smarter, or simply make us more likely to make class distinctions? (to her credit: Danah makes it clear that she’s having a hard time discussing this).

One way that I think would be interesting to cut up the populations would be activity. Are the people using MySpace for different reasons than Facebook? Are the two services equivalent from a tool standpoint? What about people who use both? It seems that Danah is talking about them equivalently, although in this case that’s not the focus of her piece so I don’t know for sure.

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Common Pitfalls of Building Social Web Applications and How to Avoid Them, Part 2

This is part II of a series on Common Pitfalls of Building Social Web Applications. Read Part I

5) Not Appointing a Full-time Community Manager

No matter how prescient your designers and how well thought out your design strategy, there is no way to design a perfect social web site that doesn’t need ongoing management. Yet, some social start-ups fail to recognize this and launch their app without a designated caretaker. The result is a slow failure…the worst kind of failure because it’s not immediately apparent that it’s happening.

In any decent social app, use and users are always changing, always adapting and pushing the limits of your software. So as Matt Haughey, founder of Metafilter, says in his excellent Community Tips for 2007, “Moderation is a full-time job”.

Continue Reading: Common Pitfalls of Building Social Web Applications and How to Avoid Them, Part 2

Common Pitfalls of Building Social Web Applications and How to Avoid Them

This is part I of a series on Common Pitfalls of Building Social Web Applications.

In the last several years we’ve seen the rise and fall of many social web applications. While most of our attention gets paid to the hugely successful ones like YouTube and Facebook, we can also learn a lot from those that have failed. Here are some of the common pitfalls that lead to failure when building social web applications.

1) Underestimating The Cold Start Problem

If you build and release your social web site and nobody uses it, you have the cold start problem. This problem affects most social sites, and directly results from designing for the network. The effect of the network is that nodes on the network (web sites) have attention momentum. We pay attention to certain nodes (sites) already, and so if you’re trying to add one to the network then you have to build your own attention momentum over time. This is not easy.

Too often, though, this hurdle is underestimated. The first step is to admit there’s a problem. Say “This is not working. Our early users are not using the site how we want them to”. You would be surprised at how often this doesn’t happen. Instead, what often happens is that more money is pushed into features or marketing, which is precisely the wrong move…

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Facebook and Circles of Relationships

David Kirkpatrick’s has written a great piece on the new direction Facebook is going. His lead in says it all:

“Imagine that when you shopped online for a digital camera, you could see whether anyone you knew already owned it and ask them what they thought. Imagine that when you searched for a concert ticket you could learn if friends were headed to the same show. Or that you knew which sites – or what news stories – people you trust found useful and which they disliked. Or maybe you could find out where all your friends and relatives are, right now (at least those who want to be found).”

Notice how each one of the examples relates the person with what they’re trying to find out by way of Trust. In other words, information is important to people not just because of what it is, but because of what it means to the person and their future. Knowing what concerts are playing is nice…but knowing which one your friends are going to is what’s important.

Schneiderman’s Circles of Relationships

Ben Schneiderman came up with a nice graphic to illustrate this. He calls it the circles of relationships. It shows several concentric ovals (centering on the self) that illustrate how Trust dissipates outward. As we move away from people near to us, we trust them less.

Ben Schneiderman's Circles of Relationships

Continue Reading: Facebook and Circles of Relationships

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