Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior
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Designing Systems that Support Social Behavior

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By looking at how people interact in face to face situations we can gain insights on how to better design online systems to support social behavior. In particular, this presentation argues that simple visualizations of the presence and activities of participants in online situations can be a valuable design approach.

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  • I have been studying and designing collaborative systems for about 2 decades, and during that time I have become interested in how systems support – or fail to support -- social behavior. I think the supporting social behavior in systems is important for two sorts of reasons. First, interacting socially is fun. Social interaction makes our lives rich and interesting. Second, and more practically, I believe that many of the difficulties we face when trying to collaborate using computers can be solved socially.
  • I’d like to start out by drawing on a lovely essay by sociologist Bruno Latour. The essay is titled Where are the Missing Masses , and in it Latour draws a tounge in cheek parallel between a central problem in physics, and a central problem in sociology. Latour’s story goes like this: According to physicists the universe is expanding. And it’s going to continue expanding forever, because there isn’t enough mass to counteract its expansion. But physicists are puzzled because the universe is not flying apart nearly as rapidly as they would expect based on the amount of mass they can detect. Some mysterious factor, some missing mass, is working to hold things together. Physicists are searching everywhere for this missing mass that is needed to bring their empirical findings into alignment with their theories. Sociology, Latour suggests, has a similar problem.
  • If we look at human social behavior, we can see a lot of order. But if we look at the Social impulses that bind us to one another, those are quite weak. Sociologists are constantly looking, somewhat desperately, for social links sturdy enough to tie all of us together, for principles or phenomena strong enough to explain why we manage to interact so coherently. When adding up social ties, Latour says, there do not seem to be enough to account for the orderly behavior we see around us. Latour suggests that sociology’s missing masses are artifacts. His essay goes on to examine how various conventions and regularities of behavior are inscribed in artifacts, and how those artifacts help order human behavior. I recommend it -- it’s both insightful, and a lot of fun!
  • I like Latour’s story for two reasons. First, I think he’s right that artifacts -- which I stretch to included environments -- play crticial roles in shaping human interaction Second, I find his imagery compelling. The notion that social order is under a dynamic tension -- ready to fly apart (or at least fall apart) except for a web of Social impulses which binds it together -- really works for me. Especially because, it seems to me, that when we look at the online world of digitally mediated interaction, that the masses are missing!
  • Interaction among people that is mediated, rather than face to face, seems a lot more fragile. It is easy to disrupt, and it tends toward drift, dissolution and disorder. I don’t intend to argue the point here, but as a small piece of evidence, a reminder if you will, I offer the figure to right. It’s what I call an unsubscribe cascade in a mailing list: someone has done something inappropriate, and now lots of people are ineptly trying to leave... We’ve all seen things this. So, with respect to digitally mediated interaction, we can do better! So, let’s move on to face to face interaction
  • People forming up for some sort of Parade in the Campo in Sienna -- not that there are no barriers or ropes holding them back. They are taking their cue from the activity and those around them, and using subtle environmental features -- changes in pavings, and pylons -- to coordinate their positioning.
  • We walk obediently on paths -- at least mostly. Two people seem to have been drawn off the path by some particularly nice flowers.
  • We stand patiently -- or not so patiently -- in queues, even though we’d really like to just cut to the head of the line.
  • William Whyte, the anthropologist of urban behavior, observed that the best predictor of whether someone would pause to look in a shop window was whether other people were already looking! We are social creatures, and drawn to crowds.
  • Here we have an image of a little girl (and her mother) who have been drawn into conversation with strangers, lured by the enticement of a puppy. William Whyte refers to the phenomena of strangers being pulled into conversation by an object or event as triangulation.
  • We also imitate one another. Sometimes we do this consciously, for instance when we’re in a new situation and aren’t sure how to act appropriately, and sometimes it occurs almost unconsciously, as with these people dangling their feet in the fountain at the Louvre.
  • Peer pressure is a very important way of making public behavior coherent. I don’t know about you, but I’ve often found myself on my feet, applauding, for a performance I wasn’t that keen on -- it was just that I was even less keen on being the only person sitting down.
  • Competition pulls us into interactions, as in these pickup chess games in a public park -- perhaps we first pause to watch, and are then drawn into being players .
  • And finally, self preservation! I love this picture, because these ladies are clearly so acutely aware of their position, and its consequences with respect to the dynamic environment surrounding them.
  • We could keep going. There are lots of factors that come together to bring order to our collective behaviour. ...
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