I’m watching a fascinating (and well put together) presentation from Lisa Kimball on “Producing Social Network Environments” as part of OSN05.
Am not sure if you can get it, I think you can , try here. (need Realplayer). If you can I’d encourage you to watch it, it’s v. good!
What I’m not entirely comfortable with though is her insistence on metaphors, on environments which people are comfortable with. I get the feeling after much attendance and observation of a whole heap of different environments, that this insistence on the notion of ‘environment’ as all encompassing / our goal is in fact our no. 1 problem.
People don’t exist in environments, they exist in themselves and their semilattice-esque relationships with other actors (communities, individuals, spaces, inanimate objects…) and we can use whatever media we want and whatever metaphors we choose but this will not facilitate the development of successful online networks.
I reckon LinkedIn, Orkut etc. etc. DO NOT work… Neither do our Learning / Courseware Management Systems or, for that matter, 90% of Intranets and portals. (Dating sites do but that’s another matter, a bit like the way we buy our airline tickets online but not our clothes… perhaps) The problem, I’m convinced, lies with the misconception that it’s the environments that are important… granted, if you have a nice town square people will probably use it but you’ve gotta have the people first.