Embedded Observation – Design for Reinterpretation

Update: I just went quickly through Danah’s rough crib for the talk and it’s just great. I wanted to add this quote about community designers:

Community designers are game masters or masters of ceremony. You don’t own the show – you simply shape it through your presence and actions. Figure out what is healthy for your community and investors and design to nudge people into a viable direction while still meeting their needs and goal. Design in reaction to what people are doing rather than in an idealistic fashion of what should be. Don’t expect users to have the same goals that you have; they won’t. You have to design with that in mind.

the bell curve scar about Danah Boyd’s Glocalization

Two concepts in the rough crib for the actual talk I found particularly interesting:

  1. embedded observation
  2. design for reinterpretation

The designers of [Craigslist, Flickr and MySpace] are engaged in embedded observation. They are living in the culture that they are helping to frame. They are aware of the others living in that culture and constantly engaging with them to really understand the emergent behaviors.

Don’t design for perfection – design for reinterpretation. If you design for perfection, you will be disappointed in what people do. Design conscientiously but plan to react immediately after something goes out.


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