Google & the open, social web

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Google & the open, social web

  1. 1. Google & the open, social web Chris Messina Google Faculty Summit Mountain View, CA July 30, 2010
  2. 2. @chris.messina buzz.google.com/chrismessina @chrismessina
  3. 3. Understanding the Social Web but let’s turn to a broader and more fundamental topic: understanding the social web, and how some of our thinking is evolving and manifesting itself in several modern technologies.
  4. 4. Image from Shirtoid Of course the social web is about people...
  5. 5. Image by Tom Burns ...but it’s also about partying. And no one partied like those rascally soviets back in the early part of the previous century. Hard to believe, but amidst all their partying they had enough time to develop a theory of labor, called activity theory.
  6. 6. Activity Theorists Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky Aleksei N. Leontiev Yrjö Engeström 1896–1934 1903 - 1979 1948 - present Some of the more prominent activity theorists include Vygotsky, Leontiev, and Engestrom (yes, Jyri’s dad)
  7. 7. Tools Subject Object Outcome Vygotsky Activity Theory was developed as a way of understanding and shaping a workforce, which was of course a very soviet thing to do. As such, Vygotsky’s activity theory was heavily centered on tool mediation and the relationship of a single actor to an object or objective. The theory goes much deeper, but from a lay perspective, this is where it all began.
  8. 8. Mediating Artefacts Subject Goal Outcome Rules Roles Community Engeström, 1987 Fast-forward several decades, and the Scandanavians expanded Activity Theory by putting the actor in the context of a community where there were social norms and roles at work. This basic framework could help to explain social development, organization, culture, and social systems at various scales and degrees of inspection.
  9. 9. Mediating Artefacts Sense Subject Goal Outcome Meaning Rules Roles Community Engeström, 1987 Curiously, by studying this model — and examing how goal achievement functions socially — we begin to understand how meaning is made and cultural understanding grows. So, if your goal is to actually produce meaning, knowledge, and understanding — you can work within these constructs to motivate action.
  10. 10. Mediating Artefacts Subject Goal Outcome Rules Roles Community Engeström, 1987 ...especially if you think about how roles, rules, and mediating artefacts (tools) all relate to one another.
  11. 11. so, for example, if you’re designing a new app for the first time, think about how you can manipulate the roles, rules, and tools increase interest, desire, or motivation you might develop a series of rewards for completing certain tasks, bounded by rules
  12. 12. so, for example, if you’re designing a new app for the first time, think about how you can manipulate the roles, rules, and tools increase interest, desire, or motivation you might develop a series of rewards for completing certain tasks, bounded by rules
  13. 13. Social Objects and the way that you can ground activity is through the creation or fabrication of social objects.
  14. 14. “People don’t just connect to each other. They connect through a shared object.” Jyri Engeström Photo of Jyri by eirikso According to, Jyri Engstrom (Yaro’s son!), a “social object” is a primary vehicle for social interaction.
  15. 15. A nice example of this idea is Katamari Damacy, a game where you control a character that goes around collecting stuff by adhering it to its body. this is not unlike the way that activities define who you are today. indeed, as the game progresses, all these things that you collect come to define you and your experience.
  16. 16. rating, add to playlist, favorite, share, copy the URL, flag, play, comment, reply by video adding value to objects that are uploaded by users. that turns them into social objects.
  17. 17. add notes, tags, comments, favorite, add to galleries, add contact, interact with other members... but here’s a twist to Flickr’s approach...
  18. 18. Mediating Artefacts Subject Goal Outcome Rules Roles Community Yrjö Engeström, 1987 you take activity theory...
  19. 19. Mediating Artefacts Subject Goal Outcome Rules Roles Community Engeström, 1987 by focusing on these elements — you can understand why Flickr works the way it does.
  20. 20. Mediating Artefacts Subject Goal Outcome Rules Roles Community Engeström, 1987 one thing that they’ve done rather well, is make it possible for the subject to manipulate the rules of the Flickr environment.
  21. 21. and on Flickr, I can set the rules of engagement, making it possible for me to personalize my experience, and focus on interactions that are more meaningful to me, while also setting the rules for what people can do with my contributions. By delegating this rule-making to the individual, Flickr creates a richer system of interaction with its own economics.
  22. 22. and on Flickr, I can set the rules of engagement, making it possible for me to personalize my experience, and focus on interactions that are more meaningful to me, while also setting the rules for what people can do with my contributions. By delegating this rule-making to the individual, Flickr creates a richer system of interaction with its own economics.
  23. 23. How these rules are surfaced, and how well the user understands them, is essential when designing social systems in order to avoid “surprises”, for example when changes to the rules of a system are introduced, as we’ve seen with Facebook over the last several years as its evolved its privacy model.
  24. 24. Identity & Friends & Activities the basic building blocks of the social web...
  25. 25. Identity & Profiles Who you are, what bundle of attributes to present in a given context.
  26. 26. in some cases, it’s my passport, which tells you where I’m from, how old I am, and where I’ve been.
  27. 27. Photo by bcymet in other cases I’m represented by a unique biological signal... like my fingerprint.
  28. 28. Photo by mona In other cases it’s a virtual collection of attributes that I decide on given a certain purpose or context.
  29. 29. and this last case starts to get at why OpenID, as a technology, and a concept is core to the architecture of the social web... because if the web is all about people, the atomic unit of the social web is the individual.
  30. 30. Photo by Teresa Stanton The technology itself enables you to use an account that you on one website on another one. That’s about it. But that persistence leads to all kinds of new capabilities that web wasn’t originally built with. And the good news is that this technology is seeing relatively rapid adoption.
  31. 31. Unique OpenID Relying Parties As of July 1, 2009 Data from Janrain So as we’ve seen an explosion in the number of OpenID relying parties in the last five years — users are carefully considering which account they want to use to sign in.
  32. 32. Unique OpenID Relying Parties As of July 1, 2009 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0 5 06 06 06 6 07 07 07 7 08 08 08 8 09 09 /0 /0 /0 /0 1/ 4/ 7/ 1/ 4/ 7/ 1/ 4/ 7/ 1/ 7/ 10 10 10 Data from Janrain 10 So as we’ve seen an explosion in the number of OpenID relying parties in the last five years — users are carefully considering which account they want to use to sign in.
  33. 33. Unique OpenID Relying Parties As of July 1, 2009 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0 5 06 06 06 6 07 07 07 7 08 08 08 8 09 09 /0 /0 /0 /0 1/ 4/ 7/ 1/ 4/ 7/ 1/ 4/ 7/ 1/ 7/ 10 10 10 Data from Janrain 10 So as we’ve seen an explosion in the number of OpenID relying parties in the last five years — users are carefully considering which account they want to use to sign in.
  34. 34. 1 Billion+ OpenIDs and we’ve also seen an explosion in the number of OpenID-enabled accounts across the web.
  35. 35. But one challenge that we have is how to ask people who they want to be on the web, across numerous contexts. [CLICK]. Some conventions are developing, but it’s currently an unsolved problem that we’re spending A LOT of time on — because these simple buttons will never scale to the number of providers that the open web demands.
  36. 36. ? But one challenge that we have is how to ask people who they want to be on the web, across numerous contexts. [CLICK]. Some conventions are developing, but it’s currently an unsolved problem that we’re spending A LOT of time on — because these simple buttons will never scale to the number of providers that the open web demands.
  37. 37. Photo by larry wfu this is what we call the NASCAR problem.
  38. 38. Photo by Vaguely Artistic and it’s only going to get worse as more and more sites demand that you sign up and register for them.
  39. 39. Friends & Contacts so once we have identity and profile on the web, it’s all about creating connections.
  40. 40. This is my social graph — a view of my connections and relationships.
  41. 41. This is my social graph — a view of my connections and relationships.
  42. 42. and so the challenge we have is sharing social context between all of these different contexts...
  43. 43. and so the challenge we have is sharing social context between all of these different contexts...
  44. 44. Source: Paul Adams however, as it turns out, our relations are more complicated than that. for example, in research conducted by Paul Adams, one of his subjects actually had a rather segmented set of relationships.
  45. 45. she had friends in LA; friends in San Diego... family.... and trains ten year old in kids competitive swimming. You can imagine that she wouldn’t necessarily want all of her interactions with these groups to overlap...
  46. 46. she had friends in LA; friends in San Diego... family.... and trains ten year old in kids competitive swimming. You can imagine that she wouldn’t necessarily want all of her interactions with these groups to overlap...
  47. 47. she had friends in LA; friends in San Diego... family.... and trains ten year old in kids competitive swimming. You can imagine that she wouldn’t necessarily want all of her interactions with these groups to overlap...
  48. 48. she had friends in LA; friends in San Diego... family.... and trains ten year old in kids competitive swimming. You can imagine that she wouldn’t necessarily want all of her interactions with these groups to overlap...
  49. 49. Online O ine Source: Paul Adams and yet our current online approach to friends — especially between networks — is particularly monolithic.
  50. 50. we’ve developed the technology to make it possible to COPY all of your contacts from one site to another, but our current challenge is to preserve the contextual integrity of relationships on the open web.
  51. 51. we’ve developed the technology to make it possible to COPY all of your contacts from one site to another, but our current challenge is to preserve the contextual integrity of relationships on the open web.
  52. 52. ? ? ? we’ve developed the technology to make it possible to COPY all of your contacts from one site to another, but our current challenge is to preserve the contextual integrity of relationships on the open web.
  53. 53. Activities so, presuming that we solve internet identity and make social relationships model our offline sophistication... the next step is to model activities on the web so that we can discover more easily what’s going on, and develop great insights into our own behaviors.
  54. 54. the simplest activity streams on the web help you discover what your friends are doing... they’re all about discovery.
  55. 55. so for example you can track the songs you’re listening to...
  56. 56. and then annoy your friends with updates from all the tracks you’ve listened to... big whoop!
  57. 57. what’s really interesting about these streams is that you can start to see patterns over time...
  58. 58. and then visualize them in ways that allow you to see trends and insights that were previously invisible.
  59. 59. the basic premise of activity streams is to capture all of the things you do you online and generate essentially receipts ... just like you get when you buy stuff.
  60. 60. the basic premise of activity streams is to capture all of the things you do you online and generate essentially receipts ... just like you get when you buy stuff.
  61. 61. icons by Fast Icon ...eventually generating receipts for all of these different services...
  62. 62. using a format called activitystreams... an emerging format being developer to enable social networking interop.
  63. 63. activitystrea.ms using a format called activitystreams... an emerging format being developer to enable social networking interop.
  64. 64. And I think it’s really important to point out that Google has adopted this format — along with Facebook, Microsoft, Opera, and several others to enable cross-publishing and discovery of activities on the social web...
  65. 65. Google Buzz And I think it’s really important to point out that Google has adopted this format — along with Facebook, Microsoft, Opera, and several others to enable cross-publishing and discovery of activities on the social web...
  66. 66. And I wanted to bring up one last example where we’re starting to see some really exciting interop take place... there’s this site called Cliqset and they’re leaders in adopting a number of the technologies I’ve both mentioned and alluded to this morning...
  67. 67. ...recently they launched interoperability with another company call Status.net, which makes the identi.ca microblogging software. In some ways it was a small step for man, but it was a giant leap for the open, social web because it indicated that these social web technologies that operate entirely in the background are finally growing up and finding proponents. It’s small steps like this that give us some sense for how the open, social web will evolve.
  68. 68. ...recently they launched interoperability with another company call Status.net, which makes the identi.ca microblogging software. In some ways it was a small step for man, but it was a giant leap for the open, social web because it indicated that these social web technologies that operate entirely in the background are finally growing up and finding proponents. It’s small steps like this that give us some sense for how the open, social web will evolve.
  69. 69. and so if we bring it back to activity theory — we can now start to see the contours of how the technologies will enable new kinds of social experiences on the distributed social web that are richer and more diverse than any particular individual social network on its own.
  70. 70. because it shouldn’t matter where people establish their identities, make friends, or do things on the social web. the web is an extension of humanity that today lacks the essential wiring to mirror the social network that exists in reality. and that’s where I believe Google can make the biggest, and longest term contribution to the social web.
  71. 71. because it shouldn’t matter where people establish their identities, make friends, or do things on the social web. the web is an extension of humanity that today lacks the essential wiring to mirror the social network that exists in reality. and that’s where I believe Google can make the biggest, and longest term contribution to the social web.
  72. 72. if you think about it, we’re really just at the very beginning of time on the web, and the technologies that we’re working on here at Google and with the wider community will, I hope, lead to something very interesting, worthwhile, and powerful.
  73. 73. messina@google.com • @chrismessina • factoryjoe.com

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