Pieces of me on community...

Reflections regarding the intersection of community and technology, broadly defined. A pit stop on the way to the next phase of Microsoft community solutions

Ryan Turner's conceptual map of the social web...

Ryan Turner's conceptual map of the social web...

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I ran across a great visualization about the social web from Ryan Turner.  While I don't believe it quite captures what he writes, the image does capture a great deal of the complexity around social media and communities in my opinion.

First, what I love...

I'm at the center
Actually, it's not me, it's you and everyone else.  He clearly puts the individual at the center of it all.  Sounds pretty basic, but you'd be amazed at how much of a change this is in priorities of experience design.  With some recent steps towards a more social experience on Expression, TechNet and MSDN we are beginning to get there.

Relationships of people
Friends, people reading my blog, my friends' blogs, communities of practice...all of these are called out as different pieces of the visualization.  What are communities and social networks if not a collection of people and the nature of the relationships?  It's not *just* about me, but (potentially) everyone else.

It's visually exciting
While it may not be evident on my blog, I am a visual person.  There's nothing like a good visualization to present a strong case to folks.

Now for some constructive critiques

Relationship of tech experiences not captured
Blogs, for example are listed separate and distinct from Communities of Practice (CoP).  While not all CoP are blog centric, there is no reason why group of blogs cannot serve as a CoP.

Reputation seems isolated from everything but products
I'm not going to get into the whole reputation and recognition discussion (yet) but reputation is made up of more than what happens in a marketplace.  While it is indeed an important factor to consider in transactions that occur, one's reputation comes into play at multiple points of the Social web

Image does not seem to reflect the text
I think Ryan is spot on when he says communities are about groups:

Communities are different than social networks in that they are built primarily around groups of people, rather than individuals. Another way of saying it is that the group is the point in communities, whereas the individual is the point in social networks.

However, this is not evident in the image.  Indeed, the visualization seems to imply that while tied, communities and social networks are separate and distinct.  If anything, I would suggest that these are intricately connected and layered.  (this may be a limitation of a 2-d representation of something that is more complex)

At any rate, I think this is a great step at visualizing the complexity of the Social web we're weaving -- thanks, Ryan.

  • Thanks for the nice mention and thoughtful response. And I absolutely agree with the points you make here. This diagram was pretty tough to make, for exactly the reasons you mention--everything on the social web is tied together, so it's tough to separate out the constituent parts while also illustrating their relationships (in 2-d anyway).

    I like your point that CoP are sometimes embodied in blogs. And there are a lot of similar situations, where a human activity can be mediated in any number of ways, or combinations of ways. For me the most interest is in those relationships between human goals and technological media, and as I said in my post, I think those gray areas are where the real opportunities to create value live--yet another discussion implementation might make perfect sense, but most often things aren't so straightforward.

    And yeah, reputation is a lot more complicated and interesting than my diagram communicates, especially as data portability emerges as a new norm and identity and relationships begin to persist across domains. MSFT's Cardspace is, I think, one of the most interesting explorations of those possibilities to date.

    So for all its shortcomings, I'm glad my diagram and post got you thinking. It certainly did that for me.

  • I mentioned in an earlier post that I was not going to discuss recognition . Well, that was for the context

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