Social tools, technologies of time

September 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Social systems only exist in and through the continuity of social practices, fading away in time.” Anthony Giddens

In matters of designing social media and social tools, I don’t think we can ever fully appreciate the importance of time. Time is largely invisible to design/ers. It has no visibility. It has no structure. No architecture. And yet time is the essential ribbon on which the life lived unfolds. It is the flow that connects, as it is the thread that is interrupted. Discontinuous when mediated, but ever unspooling for the user.

Social tools are. They “exist.” By means of predication, we are able to name them. And so attach to them attributes they do not in fact possess. Users bring social tools to life. Tools without users are not only useless, they are no longer tools. They are just dead paragraphs of code resting on silicon substrates inanimate.

Social interaction is event. Users are eventual. Activity is eventful. Time — rhythmic, habitual, repetitive, routine — is the hidden architecture of social interaction. And a primary dimension of use of social tools.

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