We had our first author conversation at Edmonton UX Book Club at the July meeting. I would like to thank Joshua Porter,author of the book, Designing for Social Web, for agreeing to meet with us and Gene Smith for contacting Joshua on the book club’s behalf.
Many book club members (including a few new ones) gladly showed up right on time at the nFrom office excited to talk to Joshua.
About Joshua Porter:
Joshua is the founder of Bokardo Design, a design consultancy focusing exclusively on social web applications. He does interface design, evaluation and consulting for a wide range of clients, and loves nothing more than a challenging social interaction problem.
He has written the current incarnation of the Bokardo blog for six years, and his first book is Designing For the Social Web. He is in the process of writing his second book. You can find out more about Joshua and his upcoming book at http://bokardo.com/
Meeting attendees asked a variety of questions, ranging from queries that stemmed from their general experience of the social web to how they can use the social web to meet their organizational needs. Joshua kept the audience engaged by providing many examples as he answered questions.
As a result of our conversation with Joshua and also from my reading of his amazing book, two concepts really stuck with me: the art of designing social networks has to do with how well you emphasize on your social object (examples of social object: photos for Flickr, videos for Youtube) and how you replicate the social nature of your audiences over the Net.
We ended the night with drinks at the Hat, with more reasons to be social!
Keep reading for more of our conversation with Josh Porter about Designing for the Social Web:
What makes one social network more popular than another? What does the current decline in usage for MySpace mean, when compared to Facebook?
Facebook put extensive time and effort into understanding its users’ recent web behaviour. Its designers came to understand that users are addicted to RSS feeds. Facebook used that knowledge and incorporated it into its own social media object by creating News Feed. By this means, Facebook captured its audience’s interest by matching recent web behaviour to the audience’s craving for information.
People were using social networks long before MySpace. However, people stick with a specific social network if it is something that engages them and keeps them interested until something new comes around.
Is there an economic model for social networks? And if there is, what does it look like?
There can be many economic models for social networks. One model that’s not too popular is the pay- for-inclusion model (a social network that you pay to use). This model is unpopular primarily because people like the free nature of the Internet.
Social networks surround an activity or an existing social group. A site that is called “a small world.com” is considered to be a social network for the rich and famous. You have to be sponsored by someone to be included on the site. This can be called an invitation model, where people are more conscious of their behaviour since they are sponsored. This example shows that even if some social networks are exclusive you don’t have to pay for that exclusivity.
The economic model that eBay has revolves around its transactions. The social behaviour on eBay allows for anonymous inclusion, which is unique. The reputation of eBay members is only valuable on eBay in the context of a transaction.
Can organizations use well-established social networks to reach out to customers and meet business needs?
Organizations are looking at ways to use social networks to help them connect to their customers —however, currently that is done through niche social networks.
There are still questions that need to be answered regarding the use of other social networks to meet businesses’ needs (e.g. the use of Facebook Connect). Businesses are beginning to realize that they can lose a lot of information by using a single login — which makes this idea less attractive.
What are the specific challenges of integrating a social network in e-learning platforms?
An important feature in an e-learning platform is the ability to mimic a real-life class situation. What makes the classroom real are live conversations between teachers, students, administration, etc. We can consider each of these as the social network’s objects and map out those objects to the system. The challenge is recreating those objects in the software.
There are examples where teachers have used social networks to change the dynamics of the classroom. Joshua provided an example: “There was a teacher who started asking students to post their assignments on the class blog, so their classmates could view them. The act forced the students to work harder on assignments, since people work better when they know their peers are going to see it. “
So for any e-learning platform, the first step is to replicate the existing social structure. The second is to determine which social dynamic should be there and create it.
In summary, people meet online or in real life to share information about their experiences; businesses use that information to improve and provide better services; people then use those services and discuss them among themselves. That social network lifecycle holds promise and peril – the riskl of compromised privacy and intimacy, but an even bigger promise for new kinds of interactions and relationships. We’re glad we have Joshua’s book to help us realize that promise as we move forward with the social web.
Posted in Opinions on October 7, 2009blog comments powered by Disqus