Thursday, September 28, 2006

Birth of a New Specialty: Social Networking Design

The ins and outs of social networking ...

"Around the office, we’ve been talking about the increasing amount of social networking functionality that is permeating into the products and services we’re dealing with. Tagging, for example, allows people who use a resource to help define a living category structure for the content. But it also gives insight into what the other people are thinking. By looking at how other people tag certain items, you get new information about that item. The bookmarking service, Del.icio.us is a great example of that.

In another aspect of social networking applications, Netflix has the capability to invite “friends” into your experience. When your friend accepts you invitation, you can see how they recommend a movie you might be interested in. This now gives users two perspectives on a film: what the general Netflix user base thinks about a given film and what your specific friends think about it. Like using tagging, looking at the differences in the recommendations tells you something about the film you didn’t know before.

While rarely talked about, the grand-daddies of social networking functionality is, of course, Amazon and eBay. Amazon, with it’s “Customers who bought this book also bought…” functionality changed the way we shop. eBay, with it’s reputation system that allows both buyers and sellers to decide if a transaction is worth the risk, changed the way we interact with what is otherwise complete strangers.

My colleague, Josh Porter, had an interesting take on all this over at his Bokardo blog:" (next article)    (Continued via UIE Brain Sparks)    [Usability Resources]

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