The enormous growth of social media services, with Facebook now over 175 million users and Twitter having a yearly growth rate of 1382%, validates the need for companies to start using these social platforms to engage with customers. And with more people joining these platforms, the amount of content created and shared also increases, with users becoming more sensitive on the way they build their personal network.

At first, users are driven to sign up by curiosity or bombarded by constant friend requests, joining their close circle of contacts. The trouble is that it doesn’t stops here. You then become a fan of your favorite author, start following you favorite basketball player on Twitter or discover that old colleague from trainee years.

The social network, once reserved to our closest friends, is now growing beyond any reasonable Dunbar number and providing much more value that keeping us connected and building group stability.

Friending is a social verb

We can’t deny it: we love groups. We need to belong to a social circle. Bigger online social circles usually imply an increasing complexity of filters and preferences necessary to make it manageable, with revised criteria for friending people. As personal networks grow in size and influence, we also get to the see how artificial barriers to entry are built, with cultural groups creating psychological boundaries (from celebrities to intellectual prejudice).

From Coleman’s concept of network closure as social capital to today’s social media rise, we’ve kept the need to include in our social graphs both weak ties and strong ties. What changed was the way both geographical and social circles were affected by the Internet. Twitter, for instance, favors an asymmetric behavior regarding groups, by not requiring two-way acceptance to get updates. Facebook, on the other hand is focused on a reciprocal relationship that implies social approval.

The nature of these social network relationships also changes according to the stage of a person’s life, with younger demographics having fewer and closer friend evolving to adult life with connections more essential to structural sustainability and innovation. Linkedin, a professional social network, is based on more private conversations and encourages these weak ties, quite valued on today’s economic uncertainty.

In most of these online social networks, users put a great deal of effort to perfect their profile, showing that it goes beyond fine tuning preferences, it’s also a public expression of the self. At social music service Last.fm, your playlist is a pretty good psychographic profile of who you are. Or at least, how you want to be seen by others.

But all these profiles, filters and preferences, where users spend hours so they can have a better experience, are mostly useless. Useless in the sense you can’t easily get this data out of centric platforms.

Portable me

These platforms have been evolving slowly, from pre-api times were each user had to login on services and invite all his relevant social circle to today’s APIs with password anti-patterns and OAuth Support.

If Facebook started providing closed filtering and grouping mechanisms, Google has pushed even further by releasing Portable Contacts. The open standard makes it easier to access your social circle information in a safe way, using existing standards and libraries (OpenSocial, OAuth, vCard).

Users can port in their existing network of friends and see who they know is already using a site. It goes beyond the Facebook feature of optional grouping when adding a friend, by enabling 4 system groups for each user, accessible by service providers. Any user can manually add contacts to the Coworkers, Family, and Friends groups; the My Contacts group contains contacts added to contact groups by the user.

Your mom

What’s your mom have to do with this? Well, let’s put it bluntly: most of us don’t want to share some of our social network updates with our mom, the same way most of us as teenagers didn’t want her to know who we started dating. Or as Clay Shirky mentioned last year at Web2.0 Expo: “What filter just broke ?”  As experience architects, we should be thinking on providing context to social circles and encourage the integration of third-party applications that respect this behavior.

Your mom probably doesn’t have a clue what Microformats or Data Portability is, but she still would love to have a future where she could setup a TV with her media preferences, thanks to a simple Facebook Connect on a Boxee device. That way, you don’t need to worry that she messes your remote when staying for the weekend.

With each consumer defining proper contexts, with new tools and better ways to manage their portable profiles, brands and services that encourage this open portability will get to build better behavioral approaches to this ubiquitous vision. The structural holes that will be detected once the data starts flowing will provide immense growth opportunities and gains in productivity, as each person starts connecting their networks with the appropriate context.

Cross posted at DraftfcBlog Revised by Andr3

Illustration remixed from Mags and Bryan Veloso

You can also Discuss on the Facebook Page. (See what i mean: the irony of writing this post ad inviting people to closed conversations)

James Paterson has been busy lately. Besides filming an Actionscript 3 training DVD with Colin Moock and Hoss Gifford, he cooked up the software component of Harvest, his exhibition currently displaying at bitforms gallery in NYC.


The Rotten Fruit Tardis is an animated vehicle that transports viewers between a myriad of dimensions and nested worlds and displayed as a wall-projection. More than 5000 of Jason’s drawings are drifting in a space with each viewer explores the omni-directional interface.




With music by K-rAd and the help of other brilliant minds like Jeh Ham, Amit Pitaru, Jeremy Felker, Colin Moock, Branden Hall and James Braithwaite, it’s the digital synthesis of his impressive collection of works. Press on.


That’s not fair, Spike Jonze. Wasn’t it enough all that cinematography goodness for one of the most beloved books of all time? You really had to put my favorite band playing on the trailer?

If the children donÂ’t grow up, our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up. WeÂ’re just a million little godÂ’s causing rain storms TurninÂ’ every good thing to rust.

So yesterday i went to the theater and today i find this modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet:


Social networks don’t get more mainstream than this.

Speaking of which, this blog now has a Facebook page, where i’ll post other inspirations that don’t quite fit in here. I’d be delighted if you’d drop by and become a fan. Promise i will not send any Mafia Wars messages.


Source: McSweeny, via Adverlab

At least, according to Microsoft Office Labs.

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:eacbe40c-48cb-4a76-a83a-767c9783636e&#038;showPlaylist=true" target="_new" title=".">Video: .</a>

Watch it here, if you’re looking for some free inspirations in UX design.

A big thanks to Nathan, for allowing me to share it.

Source: Oh, Hello, via Motionographer

Having read Flow recently and watching Stuart Brown at TED, it’s no wonder my recent focus on interactive experiences that involve play, and how digital communication uses gaming metaphors. And even if my PC/videogame marathons are now long gone, i try to stay alert for new stuff that uses the web as gaming platform, stumbling upon great stuff like iProphesy.net.


The web based MMO playing game, created by The Secret Location and the playful folks at Phantom Compass, is based on Vision’s TV documentary “Iprophesy” , extending the show to the web, with players creating customizable 3D characters, that can talk with other players, and travel between 13 different environments, each reflecting an episode from the TV show on Vision TV.



It’s the next evolution of online forums, with posts available as external RSS feeds, with collaboration and chat amongst players. By exploring the multiple worlds and answering challenges, each player earns point with winners awarded on the TV show. With TV feeling the pressure from online media, it goes with the saying: “If you can’t beat them, join them”.

It’s nonetheless remarkable how long have we progressed these past few years, with the rise of broadband and better browsers allowing experiences that were once reserved to desktop or console games.

Less than a 5 minutes walk from were i live, stands a 75 meters wide outdoor, that a few weeks ago had only written a strange URL: www.o-que-e-isto.com (translated as what-is-this.com).


Once you got to the website you could upload your photo and had a chance to be featured on this huge outdoor, as one of the 68 face drawings on the final illustration.


UGO (english version) from FullSix on Vimeo.

The integrated campaign, developed by Fullsix Portugal for mobile carrier TMN is a great example how the boundaries between online and offline life are disappearing, extending our presence not only on multiple platforms but now also AFK (away from keyboard). The User Generated Content went offline to online and back again, with the outdoor sharing the iterative nature of digital communication.


Following yesterday’s news, i’m sharing a collaboration between blog network Prt.Sc and OFFF, that are inviting all portuguese bloggers to OFFF Screen Challenge and win a chance to be at this renowned festival of post-digital culture, taking place in Lisbon, from 7th to 9th May 2009.

*Disclaimer: As an executive member of Prt.sc, I’ll be judging the entries. That leaves all other portuguese bloggers more chances to win the 3day ticket and show your project at the venue.

The Challenge

OFFF and Prt.sc are showcasing the best of portuguese digital culture: from the garage hack to your web project, OFFF Screen is giving the chance for those using social media to showcase their projects to a wider and interested audience.

The submitted projects are preferably within the broader Catalogue theme “THIS ISN’T FLYING, THIS IS FALLING WITH STYLE · FAIL GRACEFULLY @ OFFF”.  Unleash your creativity, don’t be afraid to fail.

How to apply

Each application must be submitted by a member of  the project that has been writing for a blog at least since December 2008.

Each blog must write at least 3 posts until the 1st of May, related to the project or OFFF Festival, and tagged with  offf and prt.sc. On this date, judges by the OFFF and Prt.sc team will select the 3 best projects. These will be awarded with a 3 day ticket and the chance to present the project on the venue.

Submissions should be sent to offf@prt.sc, with project description, name and contacts, and a permalink to the post announcing the challenge entry.

All posts related to the challenge will be agregated at offf.prt.sc. For further info, contact offf@prt.sc.


Missing the OFFF Festival posts lately?  It’s time with some fresh OFFF news, then:

  • Amit Pitaru and James Paterson are in. Some experimental trippin’ expected.
  • If there was an A-list for digital creators, if would probably be at OFFF: Paula Scher, U.V.A (United Visual Artists), Robert L. Peters, Chris Milk, Grey London, Stefan Sagmeister, Digital Kitchen, PES, Joshua Davis, Hillman Curtis, Neville Brody, Eva Vermandel, Kyle Cooper, etc, etc,
  • Loopita rolls a customized venue for Raster-Noton, the german experimental music label.
  • Nerdference panel is premiering, with a lot of D.I.Y. technologies, from open software and hardware, control surfaces, Arduino, tangible interfaces, the works. It’s evolution baby.

So, what’s your excuse to haven’t yet booked your flight to sunny (beach is within walk distance) Lisbon?

P.S.: There’s a open slot for sponsors, a great chance for companies working in creative business to be amongst a creative crowd of +3k and showcase your services.

Here’s something a bit different for a change: a web game promoting a music album, at PearlJamTenGame.com. Pearl Jam are known to have pretty demanding fans, and this Papervision matrix puzzle (were you unlock playable tracks) will surely be appreciated, a nice depart from the usual click and listen experience of most music related websites.


As Michael @bigspaceship said last week: we’re barely scratching the surface of what games can be – The Graveyard . This work by Freedom Partners is showing one of the paths that will be trailed by interactive the next few years. Remember that teenagers that spent their high school years playing X-box and PS2 are now becoming the workforce and expect to find the same playful experiences on the web.

Oh, and i missed listening to Pearl Jam.