What are people doing, socially, on-line? Christian Crumlish observes on-line human social interaction to discern functional patterns and anti-patterns. He discusses the interrelated on-line concepts of individual, community, and activities, and examines the on-line constructs of identity, presence, personal history, reputation, and trust.
It's instructive to track a one's attention during the course of the day: What are you actually engaged in? Of what importance, commitment, or intensity? Social or not? Christian identfies four depths of presence on-line: The lightest degree of presence occurs when any information about us is published on-line, accessible through search. The next level of presence might be to publish one's own web page or blog. An even deeper presence occurs when we indicate we're currently active in an on-line environment, such as a chat room or a game. But the deepest level of presence is to be mindfully involved in an interaction at the moment.
Crumlish characterizes relationships on-line according to a scale of cooperation:
He asks, provocatively, is "reputation" collaboratively or competitively established? In the case of leaderboards, it is the latter.
In on-line social interactions, we run into various problems: We want to leave a comment but there seems to be no means to do so. Or we're obligated to affirm or deny something but would rather remain impartial. Sometimes a system of unknown standing is set up to "officialize" our opinions, and a friend asks us to do so. What feels natural, and what is just too much? By observing what works socially, and what is an on-line turn-off or anti-pattern, we learn to encourage or maximize the appropriate behaviors in the correct on-line venues.
Christian Crumlish (often known on-line as "xian") has been designing and writing about user experiences since 1994. He is curator of the Yahoo! Design Pattern Library, a director of the Information Architecture Institute, a member of the Open Web Foundation, and co-chair of the monthly BayCHI program. He is the author of "The Power of Many" and co-author with Erin Malone of "Designing Social Interfaces".
This free podcast is from our BayCHI series.