Tagsocial web

Presentation: The Real Life Social Network

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Paul Adams is a Senior UX Researcher at Google. In the slides below he shares some findings from his research, focusing on what’s important to keep in mind when designing for the social web. It’s chock-full with insights on how relationships work online and offline.

It’s a fantastic presentation. Must read.

The LEGO Lesson: Embrace Your Fans

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In Forrester‘s Josh Bernoff / Charlene Li blog, Josh relates this story by Jake McKee (formerly Lego) of how Lego changed by engaging with AFOLs (Adult Fans Of Lego, sometimes referred to as ALE: Adult Lego Enthusiasts). There’s a lot to learn in this story – particularly for companies with a top-down corporate culture. Here’s how Lego learned how to embrace their fans:

Jake began to evangelize the idea that “Lego is a creative medium” — the AFOL’s central idea. First step: don’t respect the hierarchy. Second: use tenacity and get air cover (he got that from Tormod Askildsen, who’s in our book). Third: get the company to come down from its ivory tower. He proved that the fans new more about Lego than the people at the company. He invited fans in to look at a set of new products (Lego trains) — which they rejected. Result: the designers redesigned the sets based on the fans’ feedback. Fourth: there are no secrets. Jake released information about bricks for the fans, which created an internal uproar — until he proved that the “secret” wasn’t much of a secret. And Jake repeats (and I agree) — skip the NDA. NDAs inhibit conversation. (For the record, I respect NDAs, but I find them frustrating.) Lawyers want to reduce risk to zero — but that is not what business is about. Fifth: don’t hold your breath. Change takes time. “A big part of my job was to get people out of the office to visit” events — see what’s happening out there. Jake tells an incredible story of how after exposing some marketing people to a Lego event, he had to explain why people engage in hobbies. Sixth: the answers are not within the company. AFOLs had built their own tools where they shared everything from the contents of Lego sets to photo sharing. “There were so many tools, I didn’t have to build anything.” Lesson here: don’t build tools if your community already has them. Summation: “Success by 1000 paper cuts.” Don’t start with a huge program, build small piece by small piece. “Your company has a fan club” — go for it.

This is some great advice right there, and as simple as it sounds: Go for it!

Oh, and here’s some AFOLs in action:

Twitter vs Blogs, Revisited

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Twitter LogoAfter a week of Barcamp and Web2Expo Berlin, I have to take a look back to what I’ve been writing about the relation between Twitter and blogs. (If you like to read up on the discussion, you can find my posts on Twitter here, the most relevant posts here being probably on inattentive trust, my reaction to Chris Brogan’s Newsbies Guide To Twitter, and the post on Microblogging vs the Good Old Blog.)

So what has changed since, do I blog less when I twitter more? Definitively. But the Berlin Web2Expo week with its Barcamp, Web2Expo, warmup and afterparties and the general expo frenzy made me think that maybe it’s not just a quantitative thing, i.e. it’s not just a matter of available time. Rather, blogging and twittering seem different tools for different communication goals.

In my blog I sort of try to develop ideas, or look more thoroughly at stuff. There’s feedback, but it’s more of an output thing, and it helps building some sort of archive, or knowledge base. Twitter, on the other hand, is where I go for shoutouts, but also for advice. My Twitter network (shall we call them contacts, friends, co-tweets?) gives instant feedback, it’s the folks I ask because they know more than I do. There’s a lot more input at Twitter. (Add me here.)

On a side note, there’s also a very different etiquette on Twitter, and it’s far from solid yet: Your Twitter stream is often very personal. Does that mean: No work here? Or all work, since that’s a big part of our lives? We’ll see, it’s an area we’re still experimenting with.

But what really got me thinking is how much easier it is to meet your online folks face-to-face if you know them through Twitter (or similar services, for that matter). Although we hadn’t interacted otherwise before, dotdean, nero and I quickly set up a loose cooperation between the inofficial (but recognized) Web2Expo group tumblelog BerlinBlase; I met the faces behind the screen handles kosmar, paulinepauline, Igor and jkleske; just to name a few. If you “know” each other through Twitter, you just have the simplest conversation starter, and already have a basic understand of how those people think.

(Although it does sound kind of funny, or sad, to hear yourself say “Haven’t we met on Twitter?” But that’s how it goes with new media.)

As Twitter is a classic Web 2.0 service, it gets “better the more people use” it. It’s not the kind of application that really shows its brilliance on the first glimpse, but over time. When I look for information on certain topics, my Twitter network is the first place I go.

But maybe we need a terminology for Twitter-related social interaction that doesn’t sound quite as nerdy.