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Frequently asked questions about what I do and why I do it.

William Ford, Social Architect & Strategic Digital Designer.

What is your objective?


To design simple social interfaces that stimulate active users.

Why is this your objective?


Computing today is a rerun of the 1980s when mainframe systems were being
disintermediated by personal computers. Today top-down, passive data-centric
systems are being disintermediated by bottom-up, self-organizing social systems
in both consumer and business contexts. I think this is a good thing and I want to
be part of it.

What is simple about your social interfaces?


They reduce web publishing and subscribing processes as far as possible to simple
loops of reaction and diffusion - reacting to people and content through rate,
comment, tag and remix devices and diffusing reactions through feeds, embeds,
invitations, and notifications.

Is there something special we should know about about reaction and


diffusion?
Reaction-diffusion systems are a generalization of what has been observed in
spatially distributed, local chemical reactions. Reaction-diffusion systems have
proven to be a useful prototype of pattern formation across many domains. Turing
showed that reaction-diffusion is fundamental to morphogenesis. And I believe it
is seminal to user experience design.

What is social architecture?


Social architecture is people-centric user experience design that structures and
stimulates social networks. This is in contrast to content architecture which is data-
centric. I call myself a social architect as a matter of emphasis not exclusion. That is,
I also do content architecture as a subordinate part of any system.

What is content architecture?


Content architecture is data-centric user experience design that manages content
silos, catalogs and presentations. Content architecture is the spatial organization of
content and rules to create, read, update and delete it. Browse and search
functions extrude out of content architecture and are subordinate to it.
What is the relationship between content architecture and social
architecture?
Imagine content architecture as a landscape of data and social architecture as
societies of people who cultivate and subsist on that landscape.

What do you mean by - react to people and content with rate, comment, tag
and remix devices?
Reactions go something like this. Is this worth my attention? If it is, I will give it
some kind of rating greater than zero. Is it worth my participation? If it is, I will
contribute some kind of comment. Is it worth following, finding again, making
more accessible to others or becoming publicly associated with? If it is, I will mark
it with some kind of semantic tag including standard tags like friend, favorite,
endorsement or watchlist. Is it worth personalizing and making my own? If it is, I
will remix my reactions into it.

What do you mean by - share reactions with feeds, embeds, invitations and
notifications that stimulate more reactions?
Feeds are reaction logs published as news reports to people who have chosen to
subscribe. Embeds are remixes embeddable in distributed web presences of
many, diverse forms. Invitations are messages sent to people asking them to react
to something. Notifications are alerts about reaction events to which people can
subscribe.

What is endless percolation?


Richer, more continuous reactions connecting and reconnecting people across
many degrees of separation on the social graph.

What do you mean by - connect and reconnect by reaction and diffusion


across many degrees of separation on the social graph?
The social graph is a picture of the spatial organization of people and how they
interact. Reaction and diffusion is a simple process that generates complex
connections and reconnections on the social graph. Degrees of separation are
measures of diffusion on the social graph from familiar, habitual connections to
those that are novel and surprising.