Category: Community

Designing Social Interfaces Book: Become a User Experience Superstar

October 12th, 2009 — 8:14am

I was very excited last week to receive my contributor’s copy of the new O’Reilly/Yahoo! Press book, Designing Social Interfaces: Principles, Patterns, and Practices for Improving the User Experience. The authors are my social design heroes Christian Crumlish, the curator of the Yahoo! Design Pattern Library, and Erin Malone, principal of Tangible UX and founding member of the IA Institutute. I met Christian at a retreat in Oaxaca, where we had dinner in a beautiful courtyard with arched doorways. Our table of anthropologists, online community practitioners, and social entrepreneurs ate mole and drank mezcal while we pondered how to reflect lurkers’ presence and what the key elements of trust are in a web experience.

The book is a treasure trove of advice for anyone looking to build an interactive web or mobile experience in ways that are known to work. Detailed patterns for identity, reputation systems, sharing, and activity streams are a practical guide to those building online communities and creating interactive web and mobile experiences.

My contribution to the book is an essay on how to grow an online community based on best practices I’ve distilled from my fifteen years’ experience shepherding communities of entrepreneurs, teens, and teachers. A few key points:

  • As you design the interface, think about the different kinds of participants -lurkers, collectors, leaders
  • Give influencers tools to help them easily spread the word
  • Cultivate not just stars but also up-and-comers
  • Have a game plan for easing lurkers into participation – integrating with existing social applications can help draw them in, because if they see their friends participate, they are much more likely to participate
  • Don’t forget that good stories, with history, mission, and purpose, are the glue of the strongest communities. Weave your story into your interface and interactions, and let your users become the main characters in that story.
P.S. The first printing has a spelling error in my name, so for those of you Googling “Shara Kasaric”, my name is “Shara Karasic.” 😉

2 comments » | Community, Social Design

danah boyd’s dissertation: Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics

February 7th, 2009 — 4:36pm
danah boyd. photo by davemc500hats.

danah boyd. Photo by davemc500hats

danah boyd is a researcher extraordinaire who examines youth social media practices and other intersections between technology and society. She now works at Microsoft Research New England and is a Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. She recently got her PhD from the School of Information at UCBerkeley, and has made her dissertation available publicly:

Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics

For more than two years, boyd conducted an ethnographic study of American teens’ engagement with social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Her dissertation documents “the ways in which their participation supported and complicated three practices – self-presentation, peer sociality, and negotiating adult society”. She describes social network sites as “networked publics” and stresses the “imagined community that emerges as a result of the intersection of people, technology, and practice.” According to boyd, networked publics, though similar in many ways to unmediated publics, contain structural differences that affect practices – including the properties of persistence, searchability, replicability, and scalability; and the dynamics of invisible audiences, collapsed contexts, and the blurring of public and private. Continue reading »

3 comments » | Community, Social Media

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