10 March 2009

Social media is here to stay… now what?”

Be the first to share

danah boyd
danah boyd, a Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, just joined Microsoft Research New England.

On 29 February, she gave her first talk at Microsoft since joining the company. This talk, entitled “Social Media is Here to Stay… Now What?” was part of the annual Tech Fest where researchers from labs around the world come and share their work to the broader Microsoft community.

boyd describers her talk as “a sampler plate of my work as it applies to developers, policy makers, community managers, product designers, and other folks who work inside companies like Microsoft.”

I especially liked the final part:

“A great deal of sociality is about engaging with publics, but we take for granted certain structural aspects of those publics. Certain properties are core to social media in a combination that alters how people engage with one another. I want to discuss five properties of social media and three dynamics. These are the crux of what makes the phenomena we’re seeing so different from unmediated phenomena.

  1. Persistence. What you say sticks around. This is great for asynchronicity, not so great when everything you’ve ever said has gone down on your permanent record. The bits-wise nature of social media means that a great deal of content produced through social media is persistent by default.
     
  2. Replicability. You can copy and paste a conversation from one medium to another, adding to the persistent nature of it. This is great for being able to share information, but it is also at the crux of rumor-spreading. Worse: while you can replicate a conversation, it’s much easier to alter what’s been said than to confirm that it’s an accurate portrayal of the original conversation.
     
  3. Searchability. My mother would’ve loved to scream search into the air and figure out where I’d run off with friends. She couldn’t; I’m quite thankful. But with social media, it’s quite easy to track someone down or to find someone as a result of searching for content. Search changes the landscape, making information available at our fingertips. This is great in some circumstances, but when trying to avoid those who hold power over you, it may be less than ideal.
     
  4. Scalability. Social media scales things in new ways. Conversations that were intended for just a friend or two might spiral out of control and scale to the entire school or, if it is especially embarrassing, the whole world. Of course, just because something can scale doesn’t mean that it will. Politicians and marketers have learned this one the hard way.
     
  5. (de)locatability. With the mobile, you are dislocated from any particular point in space, but at the same time, location-based technologies make location much more relevant. This paradox means that we are simultaneously more and less connected to physical space.

Those five properties are intertwined, but their implications have to do with the ways in which they alter social dynamics. Let’s look at three different dynamics that have been reconfigured as a result of social media.

  1. Invisible Audiences. We are used to being able to assess the people around us when we’re speaking. We adjust what we’re saying to account for the audience. Social media introduces all sorts of invisible audiences. There are lurkers who are present at the moment but whom we cannot see, but there are also visitors who access our content at a later date or in a different environment than where we first produced them. As a result, we are having to present ourselves and communicate without fully understanding the potential or actual audience. The potential invisible audiences can be stifling. Of course, there’s plenty of room to put your head in the sand and pretend like those people don’t really exist.
     
  2. Collapsed Contexts. Connected to this is the collapsing of contexts. In choosing what to say when, we account for both the audience and the context more generally. Some behaviors are appropriate in one context but not another, in front of one audience but not others. Social media brings all of these contexts crashing into one another and it’s often difficult to figure out what’s appropriate, let alone what can be understood.
     
  3. Blurring of Public and Private. Finally, there’s the blurring of public and private. These distinctions are normally structured around audience and context with certain places or conversations being “public” or “private.” These distinctions are much harder to manage when you have to contend with the shifts in how the environment is organized.

All of this means that we’re forced to contend with a society in which things are being truly reconfigured. So what does this mean? As we are already starting to see, this creates all new questions about context and privacy, about our relationship to space and to the people around us.”

Read full talk

Be the first to share
7 December 2017
Game Your Brain: The neurological impact of UX
The world is experiencing a merging of media and minds that we haven't yet created a vocabulary for. We know that user experience design has the power to respond to what algorithms deem "suitable" to us, …
30 November 2017
New European study on e-Government initiatives
The latest eGovernment benchmark report of the European Commission shows significant improvement on cross-border availability of digital public services and accessibility of public websites from mobile devices in EU Member states. The study also indicates …
22 November 2017
Human-centred design in global health: A scoping review of applications and contexts
Human-centred design in global health: A scoping review of applications and contexts By Alessandra N. Bazzano (1), Jane Martin (2), Elaine Hicks (3), Maille Faughnan (1), and Laura Murphy (1) PLoS ONE12(11): e0186744. Published: November 1, 2017 Health …
22 November 2017
[Book] Making Cities Smarter
Making Cities Smarter - Designing Interactive Urban Applications by Martin Tomitsch Jovis Publishers March 2018, 208 pages Abstract More than half of the world's population is now living in cities, and this number is predicted to rise. This means that …
8 November 2017
From human-centered design to humanity-centered design
The design industry’s reigning paradigm is in crisis. It’s time to evolve from human-centered design to humanity-centered design, write Artefact’s Rob Girling and Emilia Palaveeva. If followed blindly and left unchecked, this cult of designing …
31 October 2017
Waymo focuses on user experience
Waymo —formerly the Google self-driving car project— is investing a lot of time and effort on building out the user experience of its self-driving vehicles, which includes both the external and internal user-facing features of …
1 October 2017
Financial Times special report on citizen empowerment through technology
The Financial Times has published People's Technology, an excellent special report on how grassroots communities across Europe are using technologies in new ways to solve problems and empower citizens. People and communities are putting new …
1 October 2017
Thinking about the social cost of technology
The frustration and stress caused by complex technologies that can seem unknowable — not to mention the time and mindshare that gets wasted trying to make systems work as people want them to work — …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

30 November 2017
New European study on e-Government initiatives

The latest eGovernment benchmark report of the European Commission shows significant improvement on cross-border availability of digital public services and accessibility of public websites from mobile devices in EU Member states. The study also indicates a need for improvement in transparency of public services delivery and use of supporting technology like eIDs or eDocuments. Performance […]

20 November 2017
Experientia and Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo announce innovative partnership

Wide ranging partnership also covers collaboration with design schools and public events on service design “Finding the way forward for independent design means building new business models for service design consultancies in the age of the company buy-out.” Michele Visciola, President, Experientia PRESS RELEASE It seems the business world is finally realising that service and […]

26 October 2017
Epic storytelling with video

Another EPIC conference come and gone, and no, we’re not using “epic” in the way under-10s use it about cool things on the internet. EPIC is the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference, one of the most important annual events for practitioners of anthropology, ethnography and related disciplines. Ethnography is one of Experientia’s key methodologies, underpinning […]

23 October 2017
Experientia is hiring! Service design intern

Service Design Intern: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy Experientia, an international experience design consultancy, is looking for service design interns for our Turin, Italy office, to support research, concept development and design. The ideal candidate will be a holistic thinker and designer, with a systems approach to enable complex service offerings, driven by an understanding […]

23 October 2017
Experientia is hiring! Senior Service Designer

Senior Service Designer: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy (*) We are looking for service designers with outstanding design skills, methodical thinking, and experience in designing complex service ecosystems using a human-centered design methodology.   Required 2-5 years’ experience in service design and/or user experience design University and/or advanced degree(s) in Service Design, Interaction Design, User […]

23 October 2017
Experientia is hiring! Lead Service Designer

Lead Service Designer: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy (*) Experientia is seeking a Senior Service Designer to lead service design projects from the Turin, Italy office (*) or the Lausanne, Switzerland office. The Senior Service Designer will have experience leading a team of behavioral analysts and service modelers in research and service design projects lasting […]

See all articles