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Posts tagged with ‘groupings’

Learning From The Google+ Experiment: Operating System, Platform, Apps

As part of the chorus singing about Google+ (see Armano’s insightful The Social Layer: Six Thoughts On Where Google Plus Is Going as just the most recent example), let me make a few observations:

It’s very hard to separate foundational concepts of Google+ from what might considered features or apps. Foundational elements would include identity, following, streams, and sparks. But Circles, Hangouts, and Huddle are best considered apps, in the broadest sense. So apps are a foundational element of the Google+ architecture, and they can closely integrate into the user experience of Google+, like Circles does.

But we are moving toward a world where most of the foundational elements of Google+ will be part of a next generation version of Android, and the things that feel like apps on Google+ will be, in fact, apps running on that future social OS.

This means that I could drop Circles, and use some other app as a mechanism for organizing my sociality. Imagine an imaginary app, called Groupings, that works very differently than Circles, but does build on the foundational elements of identity, following, streams and sparks.

But I would want to follow people not just on the Google+ enhanced version of Android, but the Twitter-enhanced, social versions of iOS and OS X, as well. So long as these two operating systems provide similar social foundations, Groupings could run on my OS X laptop and on my pal’s Android smartphone.

In this model, the operating systems become the platform, and apps like Circles or Groupings could run on either, or on a future, social Windows 9 (once Facebook acquires the phone parts of Microsoft). 

I could opt to follow someone, with a globally unique identity provided by the operating system of choice: in my case, let’s say by OS X, and the person I want to follow, David Armano, by Android. We would also be able to use those identities on any device.

Once I opt to follow, the basics are provided: I will get what he drops in his public stream, and it will appear in my ‘upstream’ — the unfiltered collation of all those I follow. What I post or repost falls into my ‘downstream’ which would be directed to everyone who is following me.

Obviously, the various operating systems have to support the fundamental protocols for this social messaging to work, and we will see this in due course, although it’s likely that we will see several contending models that don’t interoperate, and closed worlds built by the various operating systems providers.

We need the social operating system equivalent of http and email protocols to arise, so that an open social web can emerge.

We need the social operating system equivalent of http and email protocols to arise, so that an open social web can emerge.

So one thing we can learn from the Google+ experiment is this: I shouldn’t have to login to Google+, and use Circles, to follow David Armano’s writing over there. The works of those I follow should find me no matter what applications or operating systems I use. I don’t have to have Outlook running to read Armano’s email, and I don’t have to browse his website with Chrome, just because those are the tools he uses. 

And the developers of these applications, platforms, and operating systems need to be pushing aggressively in that direction, because in the meantime we are dividing the space for social discourse online into a maze of contending, non-interoperable models that don’t harmonize yet.

Collectives Collaborate, Connectives Cooperate →

Fascinating distinction between collaborating and cooperating, the parallel notion that collectives collaborate, while ‘connectives’ cooperate:

cloudhead:

We often use these words interchangeably, but they represent fundamentally different ways of contributing to a group and each comes with its own dynamics and power structures that shape groups in different ways…

When collaborating, people work together (co-labor) on a single shared goal.
Like an orchestra which follows a script everyone has agreed upon and each musician plays their part not for its own sake but to help make something bigger.

When cooperating, people perform together (co-operate) while working on selfish yet common goals.
The logic here is “If you help me I’ll help you” and it allows for the spontaneous kind of participation that fuels peer-to-peer systems and distributed networks. If an orchestra is the sound of collaboration, then a drum circle is the sound of cooperation. 

For centuries collaboration has powered most of our society’s institutions.
This is true of everything from our schools to our governments where we have worked together through consensus to build systems of increasing complexity.

But today, cooperation is fuelling most of the disruptive innovations of our time.
In virtually every aspect of our culture, the old guard is being replaced by cooperative, self organizing, distributed systems.

Collectives collaborate. 
Collectives are part of the machinery of the previous era. They give priority to the group over the individual and encourage members to adopt a joint identity that unites them around their shared goal. 

Connectives cooperate.
A connective doesn’t give priority to the group or the individual but instead supports and encourages both simultaneously. There’s no shared sense of identity in a connective because each member is busy pursuing their own goals.

Collectives are breeding grounds for hierarchies and power struggles.
Even with the best intentions, collaboration often encourages pyramids of power and authority. The higher up the pyramid you are in a collective, the more freedom you have to carve out your own individual identity and direct the group’s efforts towards your own goals. The conductor is famous while the tuba player remains unknown. But if the tuba player gets up to leave someone needs to step in to replace her.

Connectives are self-organizing and self-sustaining.
No master architect, conductor, or blueprint is needed. You can join or leave a drum circle at any time and the beat goes on with or without you.

Wikipedia is a collective. Delicious is a connective.
Hence the brutal hierarchies and old school power structures that govern Wikipedia. Delicious on the other hand doesn’t have the same problems; No consensus is needed because people aren’t collaborating. Each user is free to use Delicious for whatever they want.

Since connectives support individual goals, they create value even when a group is small and growing.
Wikipedia is pretty much useless as an encyclopedia until it contains thousands of articles which requires a huge collaborative effort. But the very first person who used Delicious was able to get value from the system right away. As the system became more popular new kinds of value emerged.

By linking selfish yet common acts together, connectives are able to empower individuals while creating new kinds of group value.
Moving your bookmarks from your own computer to Delicious enhances their value because you can access them from anywhere, but the kind of value you get from them stays pretty much the same. Once bookmarks are shared and interconnected though, an entirely new kind of value is created … one that transcends the original act of bookmarking and yet fuels it at as well; bookmarks are no longer just about remembering but also about finding. And this illustrates the real power of connectives: they’re able to support individuals while encouraging the emergence of new kinds of group value.

Nature is a connective not a collective.
In a forest there is no script that all of the organisms follow. There is no conductor. Yet there are countless levels of interdependence and cooperation at work in which selfish goals intersect to sustain each other and create larger, unpredictable, organic patterns. 

Networks are fundamentally natural and organic processes. Although you wouldn’t know that by looking at the corporately controlled internet we have today. Today’s internet inherited the political and technical baggage of broadcast era networks whose mechanical architecture is completely out of tune with emerging logic of our connected culture.

Connective is a synonym for network in a sense, but I like the opposition to collective, and it relates to the distinction I have long made between group and ‘grouping’.

Stowe Boyd, Facebook Groups versus Groupings

Groups — addressable collections of people who become associated by invitation from the group’s owner, and who have symmetric relationships with each other — are as old as the web. You have them in Yahoo Groups, Flickr, and all over the place.

One of the most interesting and exciting advances on the social web have been ‘groupings’,  where people are spontaneously members of free-form and ad hoc associations without invitation.

For example, all those people that follow me on Twitter are in effect members of a Stowe Boyd grouping. Or all of those people that use a given tag, or follow it (I wish Twitter would implement that, by the way). Or all the people that have liked the same artist in Ping.

Consider Last.fm’s ‘virtual neighborhoods’, based on people’s music play. Wandering around in my Last.fm neighborhood introduced me to more great music in a few hours than all the people I know had played for me in years.

If I were only connected to people on Twitter that I already knew — that I invited to be friends with me — my world would be much much smaller.

Don’t get me wrong: groups have their place, especially when privacy or secrecy is needed, as in many business situations, or when planning a surprise party. But openness, transparency, and serendipity are more interesting as general principles than closedness, opaqueness, and knownness.

And now I should make the case that groupings are connectives, more about cooperation and less about about collaboration, which is more the province of collectives or groups.

Google Understands the Problem Facebook Solved

paulpedrazzi:

The Real Life Social Network v2

Incredibly smart stuff from Paul Adams.

my two cents

A Google presentation focused on how people network, and a lot of premises explored, like groups, Dunbar Number, social scale, weak ties, strong ties, networked identity.

I disagree with some of the conclusions, based on different starting points in my thinking, and also because I don’t believe most people’s social networks are as discrete as suggested in the examples used. Perhaps I will get a chance to unthread that argument, soon.

However, you can see why Facebook launched Groups before Google has launched their GoogleMe app.

(Source: paulpedrazzi)

Facebook Groups versus Groupings

Facebook has announced a new implementation of Groups:

Mark Zuckerberg, Giving You More Control

We’ve long heard that people would find Facebook more useful if it were easier to connect with smaller groups of their friends instead of always sharing with everyone they know. For some it’s their immediate family and for others it’s their fantasy football league, but the common concern is always some variant of, “I’d share this thing, but I don’t want to bother 250 people. Or my grandmother. Or my boss.”

Until now, Facebook has made it easy to share with all of your friends or with everyone, but there hasn’t been a simple way to create and maintain a space for sharing with the small communities of people in your life, like your roommates, classmates, co-workers and family.

We set out to build a solution that could help you map out all of your communities, that would be simple enough that everyone would use it and that would be deeply integrated across Facebook and applications so you can communicate with your different groups in lots of different ways.

We approached this problem as primarily a social one. Rather than asking all of you to classify how you know all of your friends, or programming machines to guess which sets of people are likely cohorts, we’re offering something that’s as simple as inviting your best friends over for dinner. And we think it will change the way you use Facebook and the web.

Today we’re announcing a completely overhauled, brand new version of Groups. It’s a simple way to stay up to date with small groups of your friends and to share things with only them in a private space. The default setting is Closed, which means only members see what’s going on in a group.

Groups will make Facebook more corporate, and less like the open web.

The tech world is falling over themselves about this great advance.

But this isn’t a great step forward. Groups — addressable collections of people who become associated by invitation from the group’s owner, and who have symmetric relationships with each other — are as old as the web. You have them in Yahoo Groups, Flickr, and all over the place.

One of the most interesting and exciting advances on the social web have been ‘groupings’,  where people are spontaneously members of free-form and ad hoc associations without invitation.

For example, all those people that follow me on Twitter are in effect members of a Stowe Boyd grouping. Or all of those people that use a given tag, or follow it (I wish Twitter would implement that, by the way). Or all the people that have liked the same artist in Ping.

Consider Last.fm’s ‘virtual neighborhoods’, based on people’s music play. Wandering around in my Last.fm neighborhood introduced me to more great music in a few hours than all the people I know had played for me in years.

If I were only connected to people on Twitter that I already knew — that I invited to be friends with me — my world would be much much smaller.

Don’t get me wrong: groups have their place, especially when privacy or secrecy is needed, as in many business situations, or when planning a surprise party. But openness, transparency, and serendipity are more interesting as general principles than closedness, opaqueness, and knownness.

Groups will make Facebook more corporate, and less like the open web.

With services like group chat Facebook is taking a run at Google, preemptively, since Google is known to be building a ‘Facebook killer’ that will leverage Google advantages, like Google Talk.

This really feels like the instant messaging wars between AOL, MSN, and Yahoo, all over again.

I find it astonishing that so few people seem to think this ‘advance’ isn’t. Oliver Chiang is one:

Facebook’s Fundamental Flaw, And Why Its New Groups Misses The Mark

The new Groups interface will also have three components: shared space, group chat and email lists. The latter two are exactly what they sound like. Shared Space is a section within Facebook where groups can share communications, photos and other content.

Taking aim at competitors Google Groups and Yahoo Groups, Zuckerberg says “Most people use them as email lists, but we think that what we’ve built here in version 1 blows everything else away.”

Zuckerberg compares to the way groups will spread to how photos spread. Though a small percentage of people upload photos, 95% of users are tagged in photos. Likewise, though a small percentage of users may form groups, Facebook is betting that this “social solution” will get most of its user base to be tagged in groups. In addition, Facebook will rely on users and their social norms to form accurate groups. For instance, if someone adds a non-family member to a family group, the group members will be able to see who made the addition and contest the addition with that user.

But the problem with the new Groups is lack of incentives. Tagging people in photos is one thing. Tagging people in groups and then expecting accurate and agreed-upon groupings to arise naturally is an infinitely more tricky thing. Groups in real life aren’t easily defined, and are dynamic, slippery things. Even something seemingly as simple as a family group raises many issues. Who is considered family? The nuclear family? Extended family? God-parents and second cousins? Who gets to make these final decisions within a group? Asking group users to explicitly name these groupings on an online social network in black and white could easily lead to conflict and disagreements.

[emphasis mine.]

  • Facebook Groups demonstrate the downside of “social design” (venturebeat.com)
  • The key to social design, Cox said, is that “the interactions of one person … affect and organize the interactions of the people around them.” Cox repeated the phrase during his speech and called it “profound”, prompting me to snicker along with some of the other journalists around me.

    Maybe we should have been paying closer attention. There was a dark side to Cox’s statement that I didn’t really catch until today’s complaints. When someone’s actions “affect and organize” your life, that can be useful, but it can also be a huge pain.

Hash Tags = Twitter Groupings

Chris Messina has outlined (in a fairly voluminous way) a proposal for the use of hash tags (strings like “#tag”) as a way to help make sense of the noise within Twitter. He enumerates different sorts of “groups” that could be supported in Twitter, and then takes my concept of ‘groupings’ — ad hoc assemblages of people sharing a common interest implied by a tag — and runs with it:

[from Groups for Twitter; or A Proposal for Twitter Tag Channels]

[…]

The type that I’m most interested in, and am prepared to offer a concrete proposal on, is actually of a fourth kind, most closely related to Stowe’s “groupings”, but with a slightly different lean, primarily in the model of how the grouping is established. In the cases presented above, there are very explicit approaches taken, since it’s somewhat taken for granted that groups imply a kind of management. Whether you’re dealing with public groups that you create, join and then promote or contact groups that you ultimately must manage like any kind of mailing list, they imply an order of magnitude of work that would ultimately work against the adoption of the whole grouping premise and thereby minimize any benefits to a select group of hyper-dedicated process-followers.

I’m more interested in simply having a better eavesdropping experience on Twitter.

I support the details of Chris’ spec. My sense is that tags in Twitter, as elsewhere, define shared experience of some kind, involving all those using the tag. And the use can be either actively putting a hash tag (like “#hashtag”) into a tweet, or more passively opting to follow a stream of tweets related to a tagged theme.

This accords exactly with the idea of groupings. I am increasingly uninterested in traditional groups in social apps: where members ‘join’, perhaps following a required invitation, and someone ‘owns’ and ‘manages’ the group. Groups have their place in the work context, but are less relevant in open socializing of individuals. Groupings can be wonderful for serendipity: consider the grouping of all people within Last.fm who have listened to a particular musician recently, or the clutch of people who have tagged a blog post with the term ‘Twitter’.

Just in passing: the failure of Technorati to make something out of the millions of groupings lost within their map of the blogosphere baffles me. I hope that some enterprising entrepreneurs begin to think about the meta-groupings that could be found across these various applications, across these apparently unrelated social media streams. A new angle for MyBlogLog, perhaps?

Tagspaces could be interesting and rich shared experiences, but no one seems to be really exploring that side of their existence. Del.icio.us has trained us to think of tags as metadata for bookmarks, and blogs have trained us to view them as metadata for posts. But tags imply communities, and no one is doing much to let those communities find themselves. Twitter hash tags could help.

[PS I looked, and the domain “www.twittosphere.com” is already taken, damn it.]

[original comments copied from Wayback Machine:

Hey Stowe, thanks for trudging through my post and inspiring large portions of it! I find that I blog so little these days, relying primarily on Twitter and Screenshots, that when I do, I often carry on with myself for days! (aside: I really need an editor!).

Anyway, I think you’re exactly right about tags. Before I wrote the post, I spent some time chatting with Thomas Vander Wal about his “come to me web” and his notion of tags. It’s identical to the one that you envisaged. I can say proudly that I finally “get it” about tags.

And you’re totally right about Technorati. If anyone could have, they had the chance to build the “come to me web” from the longtail. Instead, we have Facebook, a monolithic silo of data meted out in dollops and doses that they decide on, rather than in the rough-and-tumble, but close to humanity, way of the open web.

I think I’ve learned something here — and I think from now on, I’m going to advocate for the dissolution of hardened groups within social networks. For a long time I’ve felt that natural, organic decay is needed in these networks for them to work long term. Without death, there is no evolution. Thus, “groups” should be born the moment someone uses a tag and die the moment there’s a sustained silence in that tag’s life. What a fantastic model!

Oh, and love the new design!

Posted by: Chris Messina | August 26, 2007 at 10:42 AM

Thanks for the mention Stowe. MyBlogLog is already headed down the path you suggest with the use of groupings suggested by our users when they place tags on other members and sites.

Our search box on mybloglog.com now supports searching across the tags and adding them to the weighting and the initial results look promising for finding relevant sites that may have trouble breaking into the big search engine listings.

Check out searches for “aviation” or “hiking” for example.

Posted by: Ian Kennedy | August 26, 2007 at 10:58 AM

Hi Stowe,

Maybe you should try www.tweetosphere.com or www.tweettag.com for it relates to tweets nor twits. I still think you need a definition for these. Another option would be to use / create a tag and share it with your friends. The tag would have a unique number which may be public or private which could tie back to some definition. That way people could share the same tag for different meanings. Your twitterific or tweet-r would simply convert your #tag to the number or a tiny url to a wiki etc. Let me know what you think. 

Cheers

Posted by: stuart | August 26, 2007 at 01:03 PM

I agree that ad-hoc groupings are more interesting that explicit membership based groups. Using explicit tags may help within a Twitter stream, but I’m more in favor of implicit means to tag yourself and your experiences.

(The new design generally looks good, but the photo with your face chopped in half is disconcerting, but i’m not an artist…)

Posted by: Mike | August 28, 2007 at 10:57 PM

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