Principles of Social Interaction Design

For all its faults, this is an attempt to collect my thoughts on social interaction design into a single piece.

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Imperfect and unfinished as any project on contemporary products will be, my Principles of Social Interaction Design is now available for free download. This project has taken a couple of years, and in places bears the marks of a theory worked out over time. Some of my core concepts appeared in my blog posts first. These include the idea of frames — for both conceptualizing interactions, as well as for design thinking. Concepts of mediation, of symbolic tokens, of realtime streams may also be familiar from topics I have blogged about over the years. I have developed these into simple logics.

Now, as always, I believe that mediation is real — mediated interactions should not be understood by their simple reference to face to face situations. Mediation makes a real and measurable difference. And this difference is experienced and produced as a mental engagement, by means of which users fabricate, imagine, project, internalize, and much more, their interpretations of others and of social worlds in general.

As always, I believe that any designer of social tools should appreciate the multi-faceted manner in which these experiences become motives; orientations; activities; and ultimately, social practices. The user experience is, in social interaction design, both more necessary, and farther from reach.

Many sources were drawn upon for this project:  from contemporary designers/thinkers/bloggers to canonical sociological, psychological, and linguistic frameworks. My effort to pull together theoretical and conceptual architecture from outside the design world, in order to accommodate the needs of both mediated user experiences and emergent social practices, is unorthodox. Hence I am calling this an essay. I am excited to see it develop over time.

Adrian Chan

Adrian Chan is a social media expert and social interaction theorist at Gravity7. You can follow him on twitter at /gravity7

5 comments on this article

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  4. Joe on

    Hi Adrian
    It was great to read about someone who has actually heard about one of my sociological heroes, Erving Goffman. His _Frame Analysis_ was a seminal book for me in the 80′s and I often drag it into conversations about interaction design and testing.

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