“The goal of user interface design is to help the user succeed, the goal of social interface design is to help the society succeed, even if it means one user has to fail.”
Social interface design is still a field in its infancy. I’m not aware of any books on the subject; there are only a few people working in the research side of the field, and there’s no organized science of social interface design. In the early days of usability design, software companies recruited ergonomics experts and human factors experts to help design usable products. Ergonomics experts knew a lot about the right height for a desk, but they didn’t know how to design GUIs for file systems, so a new field arose. Eventually the new discipline of user interface design came into its own, and figured out the concepts like consistency, affordability, feedback, etc., which became the cornerstone of the science of UI design.
Over the next decade, I expect that software companies will hire people trained as anthropologists and ethnographers to work on social interface design. Instead of building usability labs, they’ll go out into the field and write ethnographies. And hopefully, we’ll figure out the new principles of social interface design. It’s going to be fascinating… as fun as user interface design was in the 1980s… so stay tuned.
Clay Shirky’s Writings About the Internet
Economics & Culture, Media & Community, Open Source…