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Social Interaction Design Research: Reading Notes

Reading Notes: Danah Boyd

Summary: Reading notes on theories applicable to design of social software and social media. Concepts from psychology, sociology, linguistics, online interaction and performance enrich our theory of user interaction on Web 2.0 sites, social networking sites like,, and more

These reading notes were taken while researching source material and conceptual frameworks of potential use to social interaction design, an approach I'm developing for use in the development and design of social software, interaction tools, communication technologies and their applications.

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Danah Boyd's one of the most quoted thinkers in the social software space. Her experience as a social software user, and her ethnographic research at friendster and MySpace ("at" being a bit weird here) have laid down a good map for many of the rest of us in this theoretical space.

These are brief notes I've drawn up on some of Danah's conceptual work, most importantly the sociological. Our readings of Erving Goffman share some overlap, but center on different investigations. Boyd emphasizes the presentation of self and performance of self in social media like The user is clearly in control, so to speak, of the issues of his or her self-presentation. Trust, ambiguity, and other side effects of asynchronous communication are less important than the project of self-identity and its social negotiation. I tend to saddle the technology itself with a greater role in transforming communication, and I may be more suspicious than Danah about the degree to which we can use sociological concepts like "performance" and "social encounters" analogously (e.g. that MySpace is a kind of teenage hangout...")

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