domingo, 2 de outubro de 2011

Social Mirror - Some Challenges

In a previous post I stated that the SocialMirror should be a software application that allow people to steer their own public image, and ensure some fairness among all concerned. Now, it is necessary to detail the application goals and features. To keep focus on the relevant issues, I start to identify the challenges SocialMirror has to face, and to do so I'll follow different strategies.

In this post I analyse some software applications and games where the concept of social mirror is built-in. By identifying similarities and differences between them and SocialMirror, I aim to raise some questions which will help me in the design of the solution. On the other hand, these questions will help me stick to what is important.

I have chosen one software applications and two games, actually, one of the games is also a software application.

Facebook is the largest social network in the world. It is mainly used for socialising, though the number of satellite applications which intend to take advantage of the large users base is increasing. By and large, Facebook allows people to interact in a number of ways, but socialisation around content has become viral. Contents, such as pictures, videos, and news, trigger endless interactions, eventually stopped by fresh contents that drag people to another context. However, because socialisation is a confirmation process, are you there?, do you still feel the same?, are you the same?, people move but they keep on socialising. The relation to social mirrors is obvious. In the tender mirrors post I exploit a found-art technique, I anonymised a thread where teenagers where commenting a picture and I did some random reshuffling as well, to illustrate how in Facebook self-awareness comes out from among others mirrors. Therefore, SocialMirror should also take advantage of contents to trigger interaction, but it should avoid that people easily converge for the sake of its fairness quality.

Truth or Dare is a game where the players have to choose between answering to a question or performing a task, both usually embarrassing. Similarly to the Facebook case, by answering others questions or performing tasks they propose, a public image is being built. However, contrarily to Facebook, in the Truth and Dare game is not so easy to converge because, due to the game rules, tasks and questions should be embarrassing. SocialMirror may follow some the the Truth and Dare rules to achieve some fairness, though it is not clear how to bring players to the game if they are not willing to.

FearNot! is a very interesting application that uses role-playing to create emotional self-awareness on bullying situations. It provides the player with a set of scenarios where he advices a victime of bullying. By doing so, the player becomes affectively engaged and create the right behaviour that will help him as either a victime or a bully. FearNot! addresses the Truth and Dare open question, how can we engage people in SocialMirror? In this case, people are engaged in the game by accepting to do a good deed. However, the context is pre-defined and form a closed world. For instance, FearNot! ignores that the bullies are also interacting to create their own public image, and very often the victime works as a catalyst. SocialMirror should have a wider scope,  it should support an open world closer to Facebook.

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