Thursday, January 29, 2004

Social beasts

Molly's got a new blog and she's called it Social Beasts. Sweet!

i'm taking a look at issues of design for social networks. it's not specifically about social software (a moniker i find a bit dubious) -- what i'm teaching at ivrea is that you can't just do user-centered design, but you have to look at the dynamics of a social network in order to understand what really motivates the people you're studying.

It's no surprise that I think it's all good to think about the social bits!

I'm really looking forward to this - and the next time we see each other, we'll have to discuss post-structural ways of looking at social interaction... it's not all power laws and sunshine, you know ;)

Now that I think about it, when focus shifted from "online community" to "social software," associated methods and theories shifted too. The (quantitative) structural and systems approaches of social software leave little room for (qualitative) processual approaches to community or cultural interaction. But more on that some other time...

Update (29/01/04) - Two things:

1. Many thanks to those who recently invited me to join Orkut. Of course I signed up and played around, and then sent an email to the admin folks asking them to delete my account (don't get me started on how I feel about not being able to delete my own account). I'm not trying to be difficult or anti-social, but I just don't see the point of sites like these. They remind me too much of high school - and I hated high school. I do, however, enjoy all sorts of other types of social interaction (including email) so if you'd like to talk to me please feel free to write me directly :-)

2. Interesting post on the failure of the social network sites. "So why don't they work? Because they are not social networks." Exactly. And they sure as hell aren't communities either. Why did it take someone so long to say this?! (via m2m)

But I'll stop here, before I become indistinguishable from a curmudgeonly old man.

Update (30/01/04) - Michael has an excellent post about why social software doesn't work. "What designers of systems like Friendster and Tribe think are social networks is different from what social networks actually are. What TeledyN [linked in #2 above] misses is that his definition of social networks isnít social networks either ... Real social network software looks a lot more like Echelon or CAPPS than it looks like any variant of Friendster, Tribe, or Orkut. In fact, it looks a lot like Big Brother. And thatís never going to sell." Heh heh.

Update (31/01/04) - Hmm. Michael claims that with sites like Orkut, "You donít build networks; you play the network game." Seems he's right ;) I just received this message:
Hi Anne. At your request, your orkut.com account has been deleted. Thanks for playing.

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