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Social Interaction Design

Secondary Elements of Social Interaction Design

Designing the social is a matter of applying leverage, changing the mix, tweaking displays and levels to steer and guide interactions. First order design occurs on the screen and in the system's architecture and features to shape and inform what happens at the second order, where a myriad of individual users create mediated society, economy, culture, and communication. Like using traffic lights to regulate the flow of the rush hour commute through town, social interaction designers innovate to foster living and dynamic human cultures. Designers can at best anticipate, but can't directly control, what they want. But what they want from a site is important, and knowing what design can do is the expertise of the social media designer.

The screen organizes interactions, in what it shows as well as what it doesn't

Design levers

  • Design of the screen (first order) shapes overall user activity and community (second order)
  • Social interaction design anticipates second order effects and outcomes of UI, IA, interaction design choices
  • Social interaction design is indirect, informing, structuring, ordering, and arranging
  • Individual user actions and activities add up to social practices
  • It's the interactions among users that design informs
  • Social interaction design is the application of levers to steer and guide emerging social practices

Social media structure interaction as music structures time

Attention economies

Online media work by capturing, structuring, organizing and sustaining individual user and audience attention. They best mass media in their ability to dynamically reincorporate that attention back into the system. A changing top list or tag cloud is an example of this. But because users are interested in site content not only for what it says but for who said, to whom, and why, social media work with many kinds of attention. Personal, emotional, psychological, cultural, and professional attention economies exist online and drive participation in social media sites. Users seek attention, give attention, and pay attention. Though we can't measure it all with the granularity and specificity we would like, and never will, social media offer a great deal of promise to those companies interested in their appeal to consumers and other kinds of audiences.

  • The attention economy addresses online activity
  • It wants to capture user interest and attention
  • But it is difficult to measure attention as a quantity
  • does the user communicate it? to whom? how often?
  • does the user respect and like it? really? how much?
  • does the user return for more of it? frequently? for the same amount?
  • Attention spent on a brand, a thing, event, or even an idea belongs to one kind of attention economy
  • On social media, the economy of attention is measured by interest
  • Attention in social terms is quantity but also quality
  • Interest in social terms is not a thing, it's a relation
  • Relations have intensities, direction, flux
  • The attention that matters in social media can include:
  • communicability; taste and preference; leadership and deference; trust and respect; authority and credibility; etc.

The Social Properties of Differences

  • Differences and differentiation are critical to the organization of social and cultural content
  • We understand that things can be different or alike, and in terms of degree or of kind
  • Differences of degree apply to similar things while articulating differences of degree among them
  • Differences of degree translate as more or less, greater or smaller, next or previous, and so on
  • Differences of kind translate into distinct categories, identities, and kinds
  • Differences of kind translate into people types, roles and positions, media types, and so on

The Social Properties of Numbers and Magnitudes

  • Individual, numbers as increments count and measure
  • Numbers as sizes and magnitudes qualify and represent
  • Culture, and mass media particularly rely on the power of numbers to quantify and qualify, describe and signify
  • Numbers are used familiar forms of and presentations
  • They serve the purposes of differentiating, ranking, ordering, and arranging content elements, contributions, people, and more
  • Numbers are easily counted and used by algorithms, assign value to data, and construct relationships among them
  • Simple operations applied to numbers include counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication and translate into lists, series, sets, sizes, and other relations

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