Texas-based maverick of an author Hugh McLeod is on the ball when it comes to social objects. He has a witty post up today (update: actually, it dates from 2007 – see comments) on gapingvoid.com called “Social objects for beginners.” Through seven short examples, he shows how social objects bring people together by giving them a reason to talk to each other.

It’s an entertaining read. Around anecdote F I was already chuckling so loudly my one year old clomped in looking worried, apparently to check if dad had lost it for good.

I won’t spoil it by quoting snippets here, so go read the full post on gapingvoid.

Hugh also draws cartoons. The one on the right is for Stormhoek, the South African wine he markets in the U.S.


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hugh macleod
February 13th, 2010 at 2:16 am (#)

Thanks Jyri :)

Actually, that post dates from 2007. I just refer to it now and again, as its so central to my shtick…

Hope Finland is treating you well :)


February 13th, 2010 at 2:25 am (#)

Yeah, I noticed the date too late. I grabbed the link from your tweets, assuming it was fresh! The real time snake is eating itself!

Bertil Hatt
February 13th, 2010 at 7:58 pm (#)

Can anyone tell me why you don’t have more comments on your blog? I love your ideas and I know I’m not alone — and Hugh isn’t a lonely friend either.

February 14th, 2010 at 10:12 am (#)

Because people are too busy conversing on Buzz Facebook and Twitter to comment on blogs nowadays? :)

Norbert Mayer-Wittmann
February 28th, 2010 at 1:20 pm (#)

I was chatting with a friend last night who mentioned the “social object” concept.

I think it is something that many Americans find difficult to grasp, primarily because of their very superficial notion of society and culture. Much of this topic has been studied for centuries / millenia and some of the fruits of such studies are to be found in various disciplines, including sociology, psychology (cognition), linguistics (e.g. speech act theory) and also law and legal professions dealing with “social contracts” (e.g. diplomatics).

I did a lot of research in this area about 20 years ago, but I believe it is in fact too complex to tackle (more precisely, the insights can only be reaped long “after the fact” — not in something close to “real time”). The most promising avenue in this regard are so-called “natural” languages (which have evolved over millenia). However, some linguists who have a too simplistic view of language (such as regarding some use of language as grammatically “incorrect”), and some might believe that brute force pattern recognition might lead to any insights (which they cannot, since “recognition” presupposes a “correct” or “ideal” language). So even this area is very complex. It would be foolhardy for a computer scientist with little or no knowledge of such complexity of language and/or social structure to try to create a “semantic web” in a top-down approach, and any such attempt to create a prescriptive corset — and to force users to use it — will certainly fail.

In contrast, the “wisdom of the language” — see http://snurl.com/wisdom-link — will continue to expand across the web (twitter.com was neither the first nor the last example of this, but clearly shows how important it is for a community to “speak the same language” — and it would be equally foolhardy to suppose that some BRAND-marketer could undo thousands of years of linguistic evolution).

Soon, I hope, people will begin to realize that natural language is the most fundamental technology underpinning all of information + communications technology.

:) nmw

March 25th, 2010 at 1:08 am (#)

I’m kind of grateful for you and Hugh putting a name and handle around this philosophy of socialization. It’s not a new theory, I guess, but I really brings clarity to marketing tactics and how they can be applied to real human interactions.

It’s a “schtick” that I’m beginning to adopt more and more at my agency and how we approach marketing and user experience design. Thanks again!

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