International Bloggers Day for Burma

The eyes of the blogosphere are on Burma… will this mean anything?

I recommend this site:

Their use of a simple webpage opinion pole about what the international response should be is brilliant, naive or a bit of both. Some of the eyewitness accounts there have been stunning.


Ideas from Online Community Summit

Kim Baine after the session at Online Community Summit

I was pleased to attend Forum One’s Online Community Summit again this October. It’s not the wine country setting but the intoxicating ideas that bring me back for another year. For me some of the most exciting ideas on design and group behavior came out of the “Recent Research in Online Community” session.

Paul Resnick of the University of Michigan presented on design and group behaviors. He is starting a project to build an open design handbook on the web, based on actually testing and quantifying the gut design choices we make when designing for interactive groups.

Fundamental findings so far:

  • The ease of discarding identities does matter to the quality of discourse. (We all know in our gut that this degrades interactions, he designed a test and confirmed it.)
  • A “can’t trust newcomers” attitude grows if sockpuppets, reincarnation with another persistent identity and driveby posting are too easy.

Solutions and useful approaches include:

Continue reading “Ideas from Online Community Summit”

Do we all live on one massive social graph?

What if all human relationships were mapped, and if all your connections were always seamlessly available to you for some form of remote information sharing and communication? A good plan? This concept has been bouncing around more and more this year. Brad Fitzpatrick offers an enthusiastic overview of the idea in his hugely-viewed post “Thoughts on the Social Graph.”

I’m thinking about the patterns humans have made while socializing in other times and spaces. People have evolved with social and physical walls, borders, and segmented places where people can behave differently or be in different group contexts. We carry this desire to extend, block and retract our connections into our online interactions, so we create filtering, privacy controls and the ability to convene a new group and invite or exclude people.

Perhaps the most socially powerful online social context is the “Third Place” (as in the classic description of The WELL by Howard Rheingold.) We’ve all experienced some of that kind of scene at various times. It’s not home or work. It’s an interactive setting. It’s relatively open to newcomers. It’s informal. It’s not a confessional or a therapy session. It might not work for you if you dragged your boss, therapist, priest or parent in via an underlying grid of all your social relationships. It works because it is not universal or enduring, and parts of your graph are dark to people in other parts of it.

Historically, that great good pub in the village, while beloved and important, was not a place for blanket confidentiality. However, it was a place where there were certain understandings, and where the things you had talked about once you might not be talking about now because of who’s here or who you might have had a falling out with. It was easier to adjust with a smaller number of connections, face to face in real time. Those adjustments are still needed.

Groups of people have mixed degrees of cluefulness about what to gossip about, and when to be silent. Continue reading “Do we all live on one massive social graph?”