Quotes and notes on Danah Boyd’s “Autistic Social Software”
“[Attention Deficit Disorder] is often marked by an inability to focus on a given task.”
Here’s the problem: “Many of you are staring at your laptops, multitasking [while I’m giving this talk]… But you want to be a continuous partial attention ninja master because you’ve been told that all the cool kids are.”
The conclusion: most of us geek-and-creative types have ADD.
The problem: we build things that non-ADD folks use to communicate.
The results: software, interfaces, websites and online social networks that are “socially inept” and lack nuances.
“From an autistic perspective, social life can and must be programmatically and algorithmically processed and understood on simplistic categorical level.”
We think that human communication is mechanistic (or can be decoded and deconstructed into smaller parts), while non-ADD users view relationship as something organic, rich and subtle.
In other words, we
“dissect social affect and try to formalize it.”
This is well and good, but can’t and shouldn’t be applied directly to a social software.
“[social network websites] attempt to formalize how people should construct and manage their relationship.” For instance, “…they procedurally direct how people can engage with new people by giving you an absolute process through which you can contact others.”
The solution to this autistic softwares: we probably shouldn’t concept a relationship model. An ethnographer should.
But most ethnographers aren’t tech savvy enough to understand the computer’s constraints, so there needs to be someone part-sociologist and part-developer, that can bridge the gap between both parties, to concept and create some truly mean but human user experiences. He/she has to be adept at both realms equally well.
In the words of Ms. Boyd:
“I’m terrified…[the approach that geeks take in abstracting relationsip] is so simplistic…that people [read: users] are forced to engage [in it] as though they have autism…”