Video series about Social computing by Tom Erickson

Preparing my Interaction Design course at HEAD Geneva about social computing, I received a timely email from Mads Soegaard about an highly relevant series of video about this very topic. It's actually written by Tom Erickson an interaction designer and researcher in the Social Computing Group at IBM's Watson Labs in NY.

The video is going to be public pretty soon and it's good to see a preview of this material. It basically consists in a good overview of the design and social issues at stake in social computing; a domaine that can be defined as following:

"when we speak of social computing we are concerned with how digital systems go about supporting the social interaction that is fundamental to how we live, work and play. They do this by providing communication mechanisms through which we can interact by talking and sharing information with one another, and by capturing, processing and displaying traces of our online actions and interactions that then serve as grist for further interaction."

Interestingly, videos are commented by various researchers from this field such as Elizabeth Churchill, David W. McDonald and Andrea Forte. A comment from Churchill's caught my attention as it exemplifies what I show to students and clients: the role insights coming from field research and their use in design:

"The idea of conducting field investigations that open our eyes to differences in ways of thinking and different norms for social action is not new, but it is easy to forget to look out for how our technologies are being adopted, adapted and indeed appropriated. Tom reminds us to move beyond simple characterizations of other perspectives and to field our technologies with a view to being surprised. Indeed, he suggests if we are notsurprised, perhaps we are not designing well enough. The humility of this approach is very appealing to me."

Why do I blog this? I have only watched half of the videos but they present a rich overview of Social Computing. From Slashdot to Chatroulette, from CSCW to social media, it's good to see this sort of panorama that show the evolution of this field. Especially given that it considers early projects and posit that platforms such as FB or Twitter embed traces (and design issues) already at stake 10 or 20 years go in other computing domains.

Thanks Mads for letting Pasta and Vinegar readers to access this material before the public release.