John Gruber, Dan Benjamin, and special guest Adam Lisagor discuss the new Twitter, Apple’s social music network Ping, Gamecenter, Cyberdog, iOS 4.2 on the iPad, Cracker Jack, and more.
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The internet has been around long enough now that it has a proper history, and it has started to produce media and artefacts that live in and comment on that history. James will be talking about his work with writing, books and wikipedia that hopes to explain and illuminate this temporal depth.
James Bridle is a publisher, writer and artist based in London, UK. He founded the print-on-demand classics press Bookkake and the e-book-only imprint Artists’ eBooks, and created Bkkeepr, a tool for tracking reading and sharing bookmarks, and Quietube, an accidental anti-censorship proxy for the Middle East. He makes things with words, books and the internet, and writes about what he does at booktwo.org.
As we use social tools on the web, design patterns are emerging. Social design must be organic, not static, emotional, not data-driven. A social experience builds on relationships, not transactions.
In 2008, Yahoo!’s Christian Crumlish introduced the idea of social design patterns to BayCHI. He returns in 2010 to share what he learned over two years. With his Yahoo! colleague Erin Malone, Christian created a wiki to gather social design patterns and published a snapshot of the wiki in book form.
Among the many principles of social design, Christian presents five:
- Pave the Cowpaths: Watch what people do, then support and adapt to that behavior.
- Talk Like a Person: Use a conversational voice. Be self-deprecating when an error occurs. Ask questions.
- Be Open: Embrace open standards. Support two-way exchange of data with other applications.
- Learn from Games: Give your application fun elements, like collecting and customization.
- Respect the Ethical Dimension: Understand the expectations people have in social situations and abide by them.
Christian then describes five practices:
- Give people a way to be identified and to characterize themselves.
- Create social objects that give people context for interaction.
- Give people something to do, and understand the continuum of participation, from lurkers to creators to leaders.
- Enable a bridge to real life.
- Let the community elevate people and the content they value.
Finally, he discusses five anti-patterns, commonly-used design choices that appear to solve a problem but that can backfire and pollute of the commons. Examples:
- The Cargo Cult: Copying successful designs without understanding why they are successful.
- Breaking Email: Sending an email alert, but rejecting or silently discarding the reply.
- The Password Anti-Pattern: Asking people for their password to another service encourages poor on-line hygiene.
- The Ex-Boyfriend Bug: Connecting people who share a social circle but who have reasons to avoid each other.
- The Potemkin Village: Building groups with no members. Instead, let people gather naturally.
Christian stresses that social design is an ecosystem in which designers must balance many trade-offs. Not every design pattern applies to every application, but good designers can use patterns to strike a balance that works.
Freud popularised the term, “The Narcissism of Minor Differences”, to describe how adjacent villages—identical for all practical purposes—would struggle to amplify their tiniest distinctions in order to justify how much they despised one other. So you have to guess how much he would have enjoyed design mailing lists. And, Perl.
Truth is, to the untrained (un-washed, un-nuanced, un-Paul-Rand’d, and un-Helvetica’d) outsider, discourse in the design community can sometimes look a lot like a cluster of tightly-wound Freudian villages.
So, how is the role of design perceived by the people who are using the stuff you make? What role (if any) should users expect in the process of how their world is made and remade? What contexts might be useful in helping us turn all of our obsessions into useful and beautiful work?
Can an Aeron chair ever be truly ‘Black’? Will there ever be a way to get Marketing people to stop calling typefaces ‘fonts’? And, when, at last, will the international community finally speak as one regarding the overuse of Mistral and stock photos of foreshortened Asian women?
By leveraging his uniquely unqualified understanding of design, Merlin will propose some promising patterns for fording the gap between end-users and the unhappy-looking people in costly European eyeglasses who are designing their world.
Is there hope? Come to Brighton, pull up a flawlessly-executed mid-century-Modern seating affordance, and we’ll see what we can figure out together. One village to another.
Merlin Mann is best known as the creator of 43folders.com, a popular American website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.
Dan Benjamin talks with Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper and co-founder of Tumblr about inspiration, development, design, creativity, making the transition to independence, and more.