3 November 2008

A social interaction primer

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Social interaction
Adrian Chan, a social media expert and social interaction theorist at Gravity7, makes a nice attempt at setting out a new model for social interaction design.

“Social interaction design works by respecting the psychological and social, the ambiguity not the clarity, the unintended not the intended. The best a designer can do is set up a social architecture that structures and organizes participation well enough that users know what’s going on, and therefore what to do. Social interaction designers start not from user needs but from user interests.

The bottom line for any social media company is know your users. Here again, social interaction design differs from non-social design. There is not just one user. There are not even several “personas.” Instead, users differ by their communication and interaction styles, their ways of being social, their understanding of what they are doing and of what others are doing. For simplicity’s sake, I segment users according to three types of interest: Self Interest, Other Interest, and Relational Interest.”

Chan then goes on to identify three types of social user interfaces: the mirror, the surface and the window, all based upon similar distinctions made by psychologists and sociologists.

The article is published on Johnny Holland, a brand new site on interaction in the broadest sense of the word, created by Jeroen van Geel in the Netherlands. Johnny Holland is set up as an “open collective for talking, sharing and finding answers about the interaction between people and products, systems or processes”.

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