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goon's Journal: Pub interaction model

Journal by goon

goon discussed at joel on software ~ social interface design forum

        Pub interaction model

        The Pub interaction model aids scanning of topic information. Is it good
        enough to copy existing models?

        In my many travels into SIC (Social interactive community) sites that I
        have noticed a re-occuring interaction model that takes advantage of
        everyday interaction models most would be familiar with. I call it the
        'Pub interaction model'. It probably has some fancy technical name [0].
        But for the sake of argument, Pub [1] will do.

        What was the last time you went to a Pub (party, class or lunchroom are
        equally good alternatives)? Imagine walking into the Pub for the first
        time. Think of the questions you ask yourself as you enter the room?

                *How do you choose which group you want to join?
                *How do you strike up a conversation with complete newcomers?
                *How do you splice a question into the discussion?

        The list goes on. Can you see the similiarity between entering a Pub,
        finding a suitable group, topic and engauging in conversation AND
        choosing what group, topic to reply in a JOSSID forum? [2]

        But how does this relate to software design and SID? [3] Well I actively
        look for 'Pub' like interaction models as a way to quickly choose what
        forum I might be able to interact. I can quickly scan the room visually
        (whos in the room, what topic groups are operating) and aurally (whos
        saying what) then dive in.

        In terms of software lets look at some examples.

              Applications:
              Email clients are a common example. In Thunderbird [4] and Outlook
              Express for example you can filter your inboxes (walk into the pub and
              label social groups), then scan the number of topics (listen to the
              conversation) to see number of emails.

              FogBUGZ [5] also uses the Pub model when showing a customer problem.
              Allowing the person(s) responsible to see the whole discussion at a
              glance (though in the past) to resolve a customer support issue.

              Websites:
              Social interaction sites such as Slashdot or Perlmonks the Pub model I
              look for here is the slashdot front page [6] or Perlmonk Monastry gates [7].
              Both mechanisms allow me to see what groups are discusssing what threads
              and allowing me to make decisions.

              Another example where this model is used is blogs (soap box sites).
              The example here is Monologue [8]. I can quickly scan the site with the Pub
              model to see if theres a worthy topic to read. There is no feedback on this
              site (hence the term soap box) but I can see the person talking, scan the
              topics and skip the noise [9].

        But is copying existing models good enough?

                '... a particular state of the neurones in the brain is more likely
        to be followed by another specific state than by a random state ...'
        [10].

        Edward de Bono argues in his book, 'New thinking for the new millennium' [10],
        that patterns or paths that are built you are less likely to change.

        Conclusion

                '... the downside of patterns is that once we have set them up we are
        trapped by them ... we also need the ability to challenge these
        patterns from time to time in order to set up better patterns ...' [11]

        This may be a new field of software development so avoid the trap of
        simply replacing existing social models, roles or modes of interaction.
        While you have the chance, don't be constrained by 'old' patterns or paths
        we observe. Experiment and develop better group interaction models instead.

        While I find the Pub model advantagous to use and software developers
        continue to implement them, are we are missing out on designing better social
        interactions instead of accepting some possibly inferior alternative(s)?

        References

        [0] Aggregator (eg: news aggregator)
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_aggregator
        [1] Public house or Pub.
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pub
        [2] 'Joel On Software Social Interface Design' forum.
        [3] Social Interface design
        [4] Mozilla Thunderbird email client
                http://www.mozilla.org/products/thunderbird/
        [5] FogBugz
                http://www.fogcreek.com/FogBUGZ/KB/images/customerCase-large.gif
        [6] Slashdot front page
                http://slashdot.org/
        [7] Current monastic discussions on Perl
                http://www.perlmonks.org/index.pl?node_id=131
        [8] Mono blog is Monologue
                http://www.go-mono.com/monologue/
        [9] For example, Todd Berman: Responding to a Response
                http://codeblogs.ximian.com/blogs/tberman/archives/000330.html
        [10] New Thinking for the New Millennium, Edward de Bono, P14
                  Viking Press, 1999.
        [11] New Thinking for the New Millennium, et.,al. PP14-16.

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Pub interaction model

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