What is Social Webdesign ? Is it dangerous?
In my post yesterday I briefly mentioned a potential danger of social webdesign. But what exactly is social webdesign?
Social webdesign is not about website builders building websites for social networks. Well, not entirely. Social Webdesign is more than putting together a social network, making a site design and putting bits of code into the website. Social Webdesign is about the features on these websites that create communities and addiction.
It's actually about psychologists designing mechanisms that get you hooked, that pull you in hook, line and sinker untill you can't get out anymore.
From a graphical design point of view you could argue that the Facebook design is rather boring, maybe even unattractive. From a technical design point of view you may fuzz about their ecosystem and from an Interaction Design point of view you may freckle over the layout of the interface, but looking at it from a Social Webdesign point of view, it's a different ball park. Social Webdesign is about what makes Facebook work, about the widgets, the features that have attracted millions of users almost overnight.
Let's go S.O.C.I.A.L.
Social webdesign works around several key principles, which we at Sogeti have neatly called S.O.C.I.A.L;
- Socialness: The measure in which a platform stimulates social interaction and gives social incentives.
- Organicness: The ability of a platform of self organising communities.
- Collaborative Intelligence: Mechanisms to make talents explicit and converge
- Aliveness: Necessary signs of live, buzzcreators and talk of the town to create a vibrant community to which people can easily connect.
- Linkedness: ‘no social platform is an island’…
These principles are the foundations to our Teampark experiments, an enterprise solution to utilise the power of the community inside corporations. Social Webdesign can benefit companies to leverage the creative forces inside.
The hidden danger to Social Webdesign
There's a side to social webdesign though. Yesterday I blogged a little on how Authority based filtering for example can bring about the danger of creating an elite, a dominant opinion in which new and refreshing ideas are taken out of the equasion.
First class social webdesign can have the power to play the masses. It can ignite emergent behaviour and lead groups of people into doing things they would normally not do individually (or are even strongly opposed to). It may well bring about the tools to mass manipulate.
Further reading tip:
One site you might want to check out is Joshua Porter's blog called Bokardo. It is a blog about interface design for social web sites and applications, about recommendation systems, identity, ratings, privacy, comments, profiles, tags, reputation, sharing, as well as the social psychology underlying our motivation to use (or not use) these things.