Human Factors and Affective Affordances

Expressive affordances: A means of describing the system’s ease of use in its way of presenting the user to the rest of the community.

  • The importance of non-threatening profiling and other means of presenting one’s self in ways that are distinctive and that do not seem likely to cause embarrassment or regret!
  • Because the system will contain a profile of each member, how well does suggest profiling strategies and uses (especially to newcomers)? Does the system suggest ways in which users can be themselves, and alternatively, suggest conformity where meta-data expect it (as in multiple choice preferences).
  • How well does the system suggest That this is not just a technology, a web site, etc. it’s a communication tool. It interfaces the user’s presence in the world. The user has a notion of how it relates to him/her, how it affects his/her position/status. Do you even want users to realize that they’re perceived by others? Transparency: how much should users be aware of the presence of other users?
  • Attracting attention, standing out, keeping and holding attention and interest, rising above the group, not rising above the group, standing out in the noise, being interesting, attracting the right attention, focusing interest on most salient points, getting strokes from others, appearing in public, self-presentation management..
  • The Cheshire grin: a smile shown to others even when user’s not around. How wide can you grin, to how many? An address, a trace, a mark, a mailbox…. This strange remainder of a person. When it comes to face, interface is effacing.

Temporal affordances: How well does the system suggest its temporal rhythms, regularity in system events and routines, in traffic and participation?

  • What kinds of interaction speed and frequency do discussion areas suggest to users?
  • Does the system convey to users what’s going on at various times of day?
  • Does the system have “real time” features or indicators?
  • How well does the system map its real-time action to user rhythms
  • What long-term rhythms does the system facilitate, or discourage, and how well are these presented to users? If discussions fade away, are efforts made to resurrect them, archive them, or hide them?
  • What is new, and what is old?

Social affordances: How well do the system’s handling of interaction and communication among members and across groups and the community overall map to familiar (real world) social practices? Are variations from real world norms made clear to new users?

  • Can proceed as they would in everyday interactions? What else do they need to know, or should they do, to safeguard themselves and their interactions from the risks and embarrassments a social software system can pose?
  • In the real world, new connections are an improbability. Social settings, lubricants, past times and so forth help make them more likely. Social software is another means by which to increase one’s exposure to people. Does the system suggest to users how it connects people? Does it suggest strategies and tactics? Can users do as they normally would, when it comes to making new acquaintances? Or are there cultural or technical exceptions users need to be aware of?

Social competence is a fact of life, and is something that matters to all of us. Does the system facilitate, or hinder, user’s pursuit of competence? Does it help them become competent? How is competence spread from advanced users on down? In a welcoming manner? Are experts encouraged to build competence among other members?

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