This post is about social interaction design. I’ve been gestating around the concept of “frames” for the past couple weeks. Frames of meaning, frames of experience, and frames as a concept for a user-centric description of social interactions.
- The interconnectedness of separate social media sites, services, desinations, and applications increases the number of arbitrary connections. Arbitrariness is increased when two separate nodes are coupled, when a connection is established, a message distributed, fed, published (etc) to a new context. What was contextually relevant in its original context (eg favoriting a video on Youtube) is more arbitrary when it appears on Friendfeed. Connectedness may serve the Friendfeed account holder, or his/her Friendfeed followers also. But the message itself is more arbitrary, or its meaning as an action is more arbitrary in distributed contexts than it is in its original context (where favoriting videos serves to rank videos).
- The proliferation of talk in social media, or shift from the page to flow, stream, and conversation, increases the ambiguity of communicative intent. Again, interconnectedness means that messages are viewed, fed, delivered, or otherwise included in a greater number of contexts. Facebook status updates in Seesmic, with the ability to comment from outside of Facebook. Aggregation of updates in Friendfeed, widget distribution of tweets, disaggregated listening on last.fm et al to blogs, Facebook, etc. The interconnectedness of communication platforms raises the degree of ambiguity in message and action intent: in what’s being said, why, to whom, and even about what.
- The arbitrariness of connection can create discovery and serendipity, but also confuse and destabilize the very practice of communication itself. Where does one comment back? Where else will a comment appear? What value is captured by which other site or service if I share, rate, digg, forward, retweet etc an action, a system message, or a user’s message?
- The ambiguity of intent can lead to a greater number of possible responses and reactions to an action, but increases the likelihood of misunderstanding, misinterpretation, our failure (from the perspective of communication).