I woke up this morning and felt like blogging. It’s been a long time :)

We’ve had Reboot, FOO Camp, and a bunch of other opportunities for rewarding conversations and so it feels like I could write posts for a week about all the new or further developed thoughts and ideas that are crowding my head. I’ve touched on some of those in recent talks (here’s video&slides from one), but I haven’t gotten around to blogging about them yet.

I’ll start by jotting down a few notes on questions that might be useful to ask when evaluating the potential of something to be turned into an online social object. As a disclaimer I guess I should say this may not make much sense unless you’re familiar with the previous posts on the subject (a number of people have suggested I revamp this blog to make it easier to navigate the material – I’ll eventually get around to doing that).

  • How well does the potential object yield itself to breaking it down to structured data? For instance trips can be pretty easily structured, as on Dopplr. Dopplr trips have only three key data points: a start date, end date, and a destination. Each one is expressed as a discrete. It got too complex with free text entry for destinations, so they decided to use cities with over 80,000 inhabitants as a proxy (so when I travel to San Sebastian in spain, I need to pick Bilbao on dopplr).
  • What data points to pick? You want to pick the data points that are sensible definitions of the object and give you the most interesting handles for generating sociographs. This is tricky because the more data points you introduce, the more fine-grained sociographs you can generate, but the more complext the system becomes. Events (as on Upcoming) are already more complicated than trips because you want a title, start and end date & time, location, and some kind of invitation policy. It’s a bigger usability hurdle but the tradeoff is reasonable if the assumption is it appeals to a broader population of users. Like on Upcoming vs. Dopplr, more of us go to events even if we don’t travel that much; events are more interesting than just who’s traveling where.
  • How often do people generate new instances of the object? This question should replace the "who’s your target customer?" question because your main target are probably the same people who generate lots of instances of the object. If a lot of people generate new objects often, ads+subscriptions probably make sense. If they don’t use it that often but the social networking adds a lot of value (as when looking for a book, car, real estate), then you need higher-value ads and/or transactions. If it’s the sort of object that few people create, but those who do do it lots, you’re probably talking about a hobbyist or professional audience (e.g. Dogster for petlovers) and might be able to tap into its special channels to figure out a business model
  • How much social gravitational pull does the object have? Complex social objects offer a lot of handles for discussion. A movie, for instance, has a cast, a plot, special effects, and plenty of other conversation points that people can talk about. Simple social objects like microblog posts don’t have as many such handles. On microblogs like Jaiku it’s typically someone just asserting something, to which you might or might not be inclined to reply. Big social objects have more social gravity. Movies attract viewers and conversation like stars and big planets attract matter from space. Tiny social objects are more like a meteor shower; each one has very little gravitational pull as such, but when you add up all the tiny particles in space, they embody more total matter than the big constellations.


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August 13th, 2007 at 4:56 am (#)

Welcome back…
The meteor shower metaphor seems a good one. Clever wordplay with blog planets etc.
I have to add, that I don’t think it would hurt our beloved blogosphere if you did write a post a week during the forthcoming months. :)

August 13th, 2007 at 5:50 am (#)

I decided to cut down on blogging to focus on Jaiku and our newborn for a while, now I feel like getting back into intermittent posting again. The more I’m back on this blog the more I want to revamp the way it looks too. More work, bugger!

Raimo van der Klein
August 13th, 2007 at 1:28 pm (#)

Good to see you here. Do you think we have a seasonal online pattern. I see that winter is a great time to reflect and develop visions. In spring I tend to express them. Summer is about “shining” and Fall is “harvest” even with my ideas.. Hmm coincidence??
Anyway keep the posts coming. Love the new words. The idea of simple Social data points. That is why SMS still has a great future. Excellent channel for small instances.

take one onion by Gavin Bell
August 13th, 2007 at 6:18 pm (#)

links for 2007-08-14

History and Vision at O’Reilly’s TOC – 6/20/2007 – Publishers Weekly PW highlighted my session from TOC – Gavin Bell’s presentation of social software examined how people use books (read, purchase, recommend, discuss) and software such as flickr, Type…

Eric Wahlforss
August 14th, 2007 at 1:12 am (#)

Thanks, you nailed a few very good points.

August 14th, 2007 at 1:33 am (#)

Picking up on the point about seasons (even if this goes slightly off topic).
A calendar year in my biological/intellectual clock has three “new years”: the actual one on 1 Jan; the second in the beginning May; and the third one just passed in the beginning of August.
I’m usually at my most productive in spring and fall and get the better ideas during the summer months. I’ve often wondered why that’s so.
Experience suggests the seasonal cycle affects how we orient to living and work as part of life, even more so here in the higher latitudes than nearer the equator.
There seems to be some scientific backing for that. For instance this gerontological study reports going outdoors correlates positively with intellectual activity among the elderly. Going outdoors is definitely affected by the seasons.
Of course intellectual life is also affected how society works, as in when we tend to have our holidays, etc.

Three Minds On Digital Marketing @ Organic
April 13th, 2008 at 8:58 pm (#)

Nouns, Verbs, & Adverbs: The Language Of Social

Ever since human interaction migrated to the world wide web, people have been trying to describe the effect the technology has had on social behavior. New phrases have become part of the strategist vocabulary: social media, social messaging, social cu…

June 29th, 2010 at 1:55 am (#)

I am reading about Social Objects and cant understand why we need some jargon word for what is “the topic of conversation”

Can you explain please?


June 29th, 2010 at 3:21 am (#)

@justinflitter Think of the object as an object of labor, in transformation. See the physician example in http://bit.ly/9lIBRZ

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