Designing Social Interaction Tools

I know of some social media web services whose explicit purpose isnoise-filtering and content-focusing — e.g. Popego and Pixelpipe. Butfor now I can’t see good results coming from the former and there’s aninteresting effect related to using the latter, as I’m generating agood ammount of data clutter in my online communities and lifestreamingservices. I’m currently using Pixelpipe to cross-post media content tovarious destinations and my Twitter account has now a considerableproportion of (often redundant) automated update notifications. (Andnow there’s Evernote, one more web service to help you generateautomatic “content” for microblogging.) Actually, we can’t manageproperly our ever growing online communities anymore (and, e.g., I’m onVimeo just for the hype and two contacts), and I know that this can’tbe completely explained by my deep rooted imperfect management skills,impulsiveness and limited time.

There’s another interesting information concept somewhat useful inthis framework: exformation, described as explicitly discardedinformation, everything one don’t actually say but have in our heads,when, or before, we say anything at all. It’s said that the moreexformation you generate, the better your writing, art, photography,etc. Rather naturally, our Twitter messages carry much exformation whencommunicating that wasn’t received by all our followers, even if theycome to following us through our websites. Another aspect I don’t likein current lifestreaming web services is its growing use for sharinglinks when old services such as del.icio.us are much more effective indoing so (assuming the user has entered a somewhat detailed criticaldescription of the website).

The argument for downplaying the role of the tech issues in thewhole discussion about social interaction design brought to my memorysome words put out by Theodore Roszack back in the eighties, basicallythat the essence of the progress in culture and human communicationsdidn’t coincide with the progress in information technology. Quoth theaforementioned:

Any kind of experience — even ‘inner experience’ not induced byexternal stimuli — may initiate cognitive processes leading to changesin a person’s knowledge. Thus knowledge/ideas can be acquired withoutnew information being received. Understanding an idea means knowing thepeculiar sources of inspiration of those who created and championed it,their vulnerabilities, and blind spots.

I don’t know if current social interaction tools are humane to thepoint we can make that journey through another mind in the light ofother ideas, including some that we have fashioned from ourselves fromour own experience. Roszack also stresses the complex interplay betweenexperience, memory, and ideas, which is the basis of all thoughts. Takeexperience here to mean the stream of life as it molds personalityfrom moment to moment, not the empiricist equivalent of mereinformation entries.

We don’t normally collect much experience of this sort. Theturbulent stream passes into memory where it settles out things vividlyremembered, half remembered, mixed, mingled, compounded. From thiscompost of rememberd events, we somehow cultivate our private garden ofcertainties and convictions, our rough rules-of-thumb, our likes anddislikes, our intuitions and articles of faith.

Then human memory, the key factor here, is fluid, wavelike, drawnfrom private fantasies we hardly admit to ourselves, not separablelabeled items subject to total recall. The ingredients of a lifetimemix and mingle to produce unanticipated flavors, and just in the rightcircunstance a single residue bubbles up into a well-formed insightabout life, an idea/knowledge. None of this is data processing. It’sthe give and take of dialogue between two minds, each drawing upon itsown experience.

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