Yesterday the Microsoft Research Social Computing Symposium ran a session on social objects. It was chaired by Tom Coates and included great talks by Matt Webb (Schulze & Webb), Kati London (Botanicalls), and Rob Faludi (ITP).
I talked about some less explored aspects of objects, about which social theory has interesting things to say.
First, how entrepreneurs build power relationships by turning their object into an obligatory point of passage. This is a way to deconstruct what sustains an existing service and what changes could possibly disrupt it.
Second, how objects make us come back to them, and how this cycle is based on incompleteness and wanting. This is a more philosophical take on what Web developers mean when they talk about stickiness.
Third, how meaningful human relationships are built around a renewing of oneself and the object, and how standardization can step in the way by limiting richness of expression across the board. This links to challenges services have sustaining growth and providing value to users over extended periods of time.