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The Social Machine: Designs for Living Onlineby Judith Donath
Synopses & Reviews
Computers were first conceived as "thinking machines," but in the twenty-first century they have become social machines. People use computers to meet friends, play games, and collaborate on projects. Computers offer a setting for interactions, an electronic place to see and be seen. In this book, Judith Donath explores new ways of thinking about and designing online spaces for social interaction. The physical world offers an abundance of sensory detail about other people and their behavior. Social patterns are harder to perceive online. Interfaces are clunky; we have little sense of other people's character and intentions, where they congregate and what they do. Donath argues that for social media to become sociable media, we must design interfaces to reflect the way we see and respond to the world.
Donath addresses fundamental questions about how we want to live online and offers experimental designs that explore new ways of interacting and communicating. She considers such topics as how to identify socially meaningful data and legibly depict it; developing design goals for visualizing social landscapes, conversations, and networks; the possibility of replacing conventional signals of identity with others such as knowledge markers and interaction history; the tension between recreating the experience of face-to-face interaction and creating new types of experiences; the legibility of the public--private divide online; and how to bring the online world's open sociability into the physical world.
About the Author
Judith Donath is a Faculty Fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and a Visiting Scholar at MIT's Program in Science, Technology, and Society.
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