Monday, July 11, 2011

Social Circles, Service Design, and Other Thoughts

Today, I wanted to point out two articles I've come across during my usual, pre-work Monday morning read.

First, and most relevant to our Google+ discussions in class, here's a piece by Frank Spillers, who, like Mike, emphasizes that perhaps the greatest innovation of Google+ is the introduction of social circles. Frank concludes that this extraction of a "real-world social phenomenon" and its application to Google's "user experience strategy" is a sign of "intelligent life" in social networking and design. This particularly rang a bell with me as I thought in a similar vein for my Craigslist re-design project in this course; breaking away from the "social media" stereotype of social design was a main, personal goal during that individual project and to effectively do so, I had to think of "real-world social phenomena," as Frank describes them, inherent in real-world activities that parallel Craigslist's functionality. Out of this perspective, I was able to derive social functionality that did, in the end, prove useful to the users I was testing: bookmarking/saving of listings (much like physical ads -- both for later reference and for sharing with others), more personal, direct sharing of ads (via a bunch of mediums including of course social media channels and e-mail), and friends' activity on the "market"/Craigslist (bordering on this idea of "social circles," we're definitely more prone to trust those within our circles during transactions, as opposed to strangers).. and so on.

Another relevant piece I came across is a cool booklet about service design and its implications for local authorities. Most interesting about this literature, of course, is the extension of service design's usefulness from more profit-oriented entities that we've examined to public services that directly concern local authorities and governments. As "public services are currently confronted with a number of complex social challenges" (higher demand, aging population, etc.) and simultaneous "squeeze[s] on government resources," service design emerges as a "new discipline" that can cost-effectively help "reach solutions relatively quickly and in a manner that is highly visual and comprehensivle for all." Ever since Mike introduced us to the topic in class, I've been highly interested with keeping service design in mind as a career direction, perhaps after these studies. Articles like this one only re-inforce his take that the discipline is gaining more and more importance and is a great market for HCI practitioners, current and future, to think about entering.


  1. I love the idea of service design for communities and cities. I ran across a pdf recently that you might like called The Journey to the Interface and is kind of similar in content to the pamphlet you linked to.

  2. Yes! Very cool and definitely a close parallel to the PDF I posted. Thank you.

  3. When I read everything that is written on some Social Networks I sometimes highly doubt if there is "Intelligent Life" on the other side of the screen. By totally re-designing the Graig's List you may have a greater chance on reaching the intelligence that IS out there!! I think you could be very successful with your project and I for one hope you will succeed!!


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