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Social Interaction Design Research: Reading Notes

Reading Notes: Harold Garfinkel, Gilles Deleuze, Niklas Luhmann

Summary: Reading notes on theories applicable to design of social software and social media. Concepts from the ethnomethodology of Harold Garfinkel 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.

Download or view Reading Notes: Garfinkel, Deleuze, Luhmann PDF, 18 pages.
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What do Harold Garfinkel, Niklas Luhmann, David Hume, and Gilles Deleuze have in common that has to do with social interaction design and social software? These reading notes examine the deep philsophical and theoretical underpinnings of social interaction and practice, with a view to intersubjectivity and the construction of the subject in mediated communication environments.

The social theory in these reading notes is very thick. But the questions I wanted to ask here are difficult ones. They have to do with the status of self and other online; of communication when it is not face to face, when meaning is in the text but also in the technology; when a sense of the user's participation and what's going on is informed by social practices but nonetheless profoundly individual and separate... Online media and social networking sites are to be understood through theories of communication, psychology, and sociology, I'm sure of it. But the dislocation of space and time from place and context, and of the act of communicating from situated action, each have profound consequences.

  • concepts of presence and absence
  • distinctions between communication, interaction, and action
  • distinctions between dyadic (pairs or couples), group, and community
  • talk as a doing, concepts of linguistic meaning as a doubly-contingent construction
  • connections between cultural, economic, ritual and other domains
  • social participation as a person vs as a role
  • mass media as a means of producing a version of reality (narratives, images)
  • social networks and attendant issues of trust, groups and boundaries, etc
  • concepts of societal systems, their subsystems, and systems theoretical ideas of complexification and differentiation

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