Monday, October 17, 2005
Shirky on Social Software
Here is an older piece but it has some "timeless" observations about what is require to host a social software site. High points:
Three Things to Accept1.) Of the things you have to accept, the first is that you cannot completely separate technical and social issues.
2.) The second thing you have to accept: Members are different than users. A pattern will arise in which there is some group of users that cares more than average about the integrity and success of the group as a whole. And that becomes your core group, Art Kleiner's phrase for "the group within the group that matters most."
3.) The third thing you need to accept: The core group has rights that trump individual rights in some situations.
Four Things to Design For
1.) If you were going to build a piece of social software to support large and long-lived groups, what would you design for? The first thing you would design for is handles the user can invest in. [identity]
2.) Second, you have to design a way for there to be members in good standing. Have to design some way in which good works get recognized.
3.) Three, you need barriers to participation. This is one of the things that killed Usenet. You have to have some cost to either join or participate, if not at the lowest level, then at higher levels.
4.) And, finally, you have to find a way to spare the group from scale. Scale alone kills conversations, because conversations require dense two-way conversations. In conversational contexts, Metcalfe's law is a drag.