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Social networking online

Published on Friday, 27 April 2007

Gene Smith has an interesting blog post on the "seven elements of social software":

  • Identity - a way of uniquely identifying people in the system
  • Presence - a way of knowing who is online, available or otherwise nearby
  • Relationships - a way of describing how two users in the system are related (e.g. in Flickr, people can be contacts, friends of family)
  • Conversations - a way of talking to other people through the system
  • Groups - a way of forming communities of interest
  • Reputation - a way of knowing the status of other people in the system (who's a good citizen? who can be trusted?)
  • Sharing - a way of sharing things that are meaningful to participants (like photos or videos)


Smith then introduces the "social software honeycomb", a neat and useful visualization of this concept:


The dark green hexagon is the focus of the system; the light green hexagons are the supporting elements. This means, as social media matures across the web, difference in personality will affect difference in usability and product behaviour. After all, why is Digg now the new Slashdot ?

In designing the systems we use in the online marketplace, it must be paramount that the systems reflect the needs and direction that the user want. In this way, the Myspace halo effect may not be as profound as first thought, due to other social media software delivering a much richer experience than Myspace itself.


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