February 06, 2008

Designing a new social web tool

  The Social Stack 
  Originally uploaded by Edublogger

The 1990s were about categorising and storing stuff, using your email as your main communication method, your to-do list and your progress chart. 2008 should be about changing the inbox to the feedreader, not storing emails to deal with but getting a flow through the feed of information: read it, use it or lose it.

In a three-hour morning session with Lee and the guys from Headshift, a group of around 50 of us are looking at creating a prototype tool, a new one that takes feeds, flow, activity and peripheral awareness and rolls them into one, with a little bit of GTD on the side.

Key to this is trying to create something that uses attention feedback to drive the relevance of information for people in an organisation. That is, as individuals search and use information, the system adapts itself to provide even more relevant "you might be interested in this, too" information.

We'll also use Headshift's 'Social Stack' to structure things:

Personal Tools
Organise your stuff by tags; arrange in a portal; manage networks and feeds

Group Collaboration
initmate groups/teams organise in wikis in group systems

Blogs and Networks
Some items or topics are shared with networks and discussed in blogs

Bookmarks and Tags
People store, share, tag, vote or comment on useful links and news

Public feeds and flows
Internal and external RSS feeds based on subject, person, group or search

Note that this starts from the bottom.

This workshop lasts three hours, so there's a chance for you to jump in here on the blog if you have some ideas to contribute. I'll pass on your ideas to the group.


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Ewan, sounds fascinating. I'd be very, very interested in the output of this work. Is the focus on an entirely user-driven tool (a la Facebook) where the individual controls everything? Or is there scope for a bit of bottom up and top down, so that organisations keen on nurturing both formal and informal learning experiences, groups etc can manage membership in some places, and set the tone in others. That combination - in the spirit of a tool like Ning but with a bit more finesse - would be very attractive to many people.

Check out Twine. I just applied for a demo of it.


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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is a teacher, speaker and investor, regarded as one of Europe’s foremost experts in digital media for public services.

His company, NoTosh Limited, invests in tech startups and film on behalf of public and private investors, works with those companies to build their creative businesses, and takes the lessons learnt from the way these people work back into schools and universities across the world.

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