Google conducted a study of social interactions between people

    Google’s user engagement research Paul Adams posted a slideshow from a recent presentation that covered his research on how people use social media technology.
    The presentation shows the shortcomings of the existing technology and focuses on those things that are not done correctly in the current implementation (for example, Facebook).
    But first things first.

    Paul worked with real people and asked them to draw him their social connections in real life, connecting them into a network. He was also interested in how people use familiar tools, such as Facebook email, Twitter, phone, etc. Here are some conclusions from his research.

    In real life, a person has several groups of friends who do not intersect. In existing implementations of social networks on the Internet, all friends fall into one “heap”, and networks created online do not coincide with real networks. It also turned out some features, for example, that only 15% of "friends" in social networks in real life, people can call friends. That the average Facebook user has 130 friends, of which he regularly communicates with only 4-6, while 80% of the calls are made to the same 4 people.

    In his work, Adams talks about how the social web is fundamentally changing, and focuses on several key things:
    Social networks in real life. How people are connected offline offline, and how it relates to their online behavior.
    Relations. Everyone has very different relationships with people in real life and this must be taken into account when designing online networks.
    Influence. The way people influence each other, and how it looks in the structure of our social networks.
    Identification. Why identification is the cornerstone of a social network.
    Personal protection. Why is it critical to give people control over their own data?

    Paul considers many aspects of existing social networks, such as friends, fans and followers, status updates, groups, etc. He talks about the need to design various types of relationships online, normal, close and temporary connections between people. Constantly giving examples of how these things are implemented at present, he gives recommendations on how it should look when designing future social networks in order to bring online networks closer to real interactions between people.

    Summing up, Adams states that the existing social networks on the Internet are only a “rough approximation” to real human social networks, and that when developing future social networks, one should more often “look back” at reality. The social web is not a whim and it is not going to go anywhere. But this is not an addition to the Web, as we know it now. It is fundamentally changing, rebuilding, and these evolutionary changes are becoming more noticeable.

    Full presentation (more than 200 pages with pictures, 14 megabytes in PDF)

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