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Social Interaction Design

Forms of Talk

It's all talk

Social media are all talk, are "talk systems." They're talk systems because all communication among individuals has structure and organization, and all public talk takes on familiar forms. We can use our understanding of common cultural idioms, genres specific to vertical markets (movies, tv, news, even shopping etc.), as well as the etiquette of social talk (taking turns, showing attention, addressing the personal, leaning on role and position) to better design social media. The benefits can be captured and shared with advertisers and others concerned to know their audience and its tastes.

  • Talk is addressed to an audience, of one, two, a group, or a public
  • Codes and forms of talk organize social media
  • Talk is direct (to addressee) or indirect (in front of audience)
  • Communication technology publishes and archives pages, posts, comments, and media
  • Interaction technology captures and transmits direct interactions: IM, direct messaging,

The front end of a social media site is most effective when it causes users to leave something behind

Call to action

On social media the call to action most simply represented as a link or button is a social call to action and a call to social action. It's author matters, who that author is, as well as in what relationship s/he is to the user and what it's about. Where web 1.0 media might have relied on the call to action as a means of linking documents and files, and appealing to the user's interest in more of what falls along a navigation path, web 2.0 and social media are dynamic. And so are their calls to action. They change, reflect their own use, and in presenting use back to the user and user community, are signs of activity, hints of intention and interest, suggestions of relationship possibilities, and so on. In short, they are appeals to our interest in being socially active and engaged, visible and recognized, acknowledged and accepted.

  • Call to action is not always the conventional call to action
  • call to action is social
  • is often contributed (written, posted) by users
  • can be a call to interaction
  • can be a call to participation
  • can be a call to communication
  • can be a call on the attention of other users
  • Galvanize users to continue to create content that serves to mobilize others to do the same


  • Comments were a killer add-on, if not killer app, for blogs: they helped convert blogging into a kind of long-form conversation
  • By opening up blogs to comments, commenting itself became more interesting
  • Some comments address the blog, some the blogger, some a previous comment, and some, unfortunately, the dubious trade in off-shore medications and anatomical enhancements
  • The challenge facing comments as conversation is in the blog's lack of social presence. Blogs are pages, not messages, and aren't the best application for on-going discussion
  • The challenge facing comments as commentary is in ownership: most bloggers know the dilemma of commenting on a blog, citing the blog in one's own blog, or using trackbacks
  • Sites assisting comments as commentary are innovative but still faltering, and they're an imperfect solution to the inefficiency of blog commentary as conversation
  • One of the reasons for the ineffectiveness of comments owes to the nature of talk as a serial sequence of turns. Turn-taking rules have no purchase in blogging and commenting, and this confuses conversation.
  • Moreover, comments can overrun a blog post, for better or worse. A good run of comments serves the blogger only if s/he doesn't mind sharing authorship of the post. Otherwise, comments can hijack the original post and when left hanging, undo the author's work and possibly undermine his motivation
  • Blogs suffer from comment spam, particularly the A-list blogs whose audiences are an exemplary case of the Web's ability to aggregate audiences

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