The Fine Line Between Creepy and Fun
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The Fine Line Between Creepy and Fun

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Social software is kind of a big deal right now. In the open-source spirit of transparency and dissection, let's talk about what makes social technology creepy, what makes it fun, and how to hack ...

Social software is kind of a big deal right now. In the open-source spirit of transparency and dissection, let's talk about what makes social technology creepy, what makes it fun, and how to hack things to maximize your desired outcome.

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The Fine Line Between Creepy and Fun The Fine Line Between Creepy and Fun Presentation Transcript

  • When we use social software...   like Twitter or Facebook or Google Reader or LinkedIn or Foursquare or Gowalla or Message boards or IM or ...
  • We want
  • But sometimes it's
  • "I posted my location on Foursquare to tell my friends to stop by– but my ex showed up too." http://www.michellesblog.net/other-social-networks/why-i-cant- get-as-excited-about-geolocation-as-scoble
  • Social: The ex doesn't know or care that he's not invited. Technological: I shared my location publicly, but I didn't know he was listening. Or perhaps he's watching a mutual friend's updates to see where I am (The friend posts "Hanging out with Katie at Lucky Lab")
  • "I post pictures from parties and vacations on Flickr, to share with my friends."
  • Social: My friends enjoy seeing what I've been doing, and reliving our shared experiences. Technological: My Flickr photos can be set to public, private, or shared with a designated group of contacts.
  • "I used Facebook to invite certain friends and family members to a baby shower, but it was re-posted to a public local events calendar via an iCalendar feed." http://blog.jonudell.net/2010/04/30/surprise-your-facebook- visibility-isnt-what-you-thought-it-was/
  • Social: I only want to invite some people to the event, not everyone in town, so I picked a privacy setting I thought would do this. Technological: Facebook's iCalendar feed service used my privacy setting choice in a different manner than I expected when I selected it.
  • I talk to friends on Twitter when we all have insomnia, and wackiness (#electricblanket) ensues.
  • Social: Twitter is open at all hours, and anyone who doesn't like what I post is free to unfollow me. Technological: Twitter shares a feed of what I post to all of my followers, even if they're not online till tomorrow morning. And if a group of us vote up a new trending topic while  the rest of you sleep, well...
  • "I updated my resume information on LinkedIn, but it sent an email notification to my boss and coworkers." awkward?
  • Social: I use LinkedIn to post my resume information, and I'm connected with current and former coworkers on the site. Technological: The site sends out periodic updates showing which users you're connected to have added profile information, like their job experience.
  • "I organized a surprise birthday party for my friend using Facebook."
  • Social: I don't know how to reach all of my friend's friends directly, but we're all connected on Facebook, so that's how I send the invite. Technological: Facebook lets me send private (secret) event invites to a selected group of users.
  • We probably can't change the social problems with our software. But we can make sure that the technology enables fun or creepy experiences in a deliberate manner.
  • How?
  • danah boyd writes, "Over and over again, I find that people’s mental model of who can see what doesn’t match up with reality." http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2010/05/14/ facebook-and-radical-transparency-a-rant.html
  • We think we're sharing with the people we want to see it: friends, family, friendly strangers.
  • But maybe we're also sharing with people who wish us harm, or family or co-workers who aren't part of our social life, or marketing databases.
  • The software might even expose information we didn't even know was there to be shared.   Like the amount of time we spend on a website.   Or that we've just qualified for the "douchebag" badge.
  • Ways we can do it right:   Show the user the full context when information is shared.   Provide flexible controls for setting who has access. Pick explicit over implicit.
  • Doing it right is hard.
  • Privacy settings on LiveJournal
  • Ways we can do it wrong: Rely on implicit understandings of who should see what. Make the controls and settings hard to find and use. Then change how they work. Assume that if you're okay with the information being exposed, your users will be happy too.
  • Doing it wrong is easy.
  • A Graph on Navigating Facebook Privacy Settings, via New York Times, May 10 2010
  • But wait! Is creepy always bad?
  • A better question: Is exposure always bad?  Don't we want to share with each other? Different things are creepy for different people.
  • Your turn: Questions?