Although I think the "socially awkward" and the "what's the point" problem of some social networking sites is a problem, I think the "suck up your email addresses from outlook" and the one click "spam all of my friends" features are the most troublesome. Stowe Boyd talks about his accidental "spam my friends with one click" episode with Zero Degrees.

Actually, what I find scarier is the way Spoke takes all of your email address from your headers and makes a network out of them. Even if you don't "join" Spoke, if someone who you exchange email with joins, you're actually already in Spoke.

I think the key is user control and a clear interface of what is happening. I think UI used to be a lot about making things "seamless". I think when you are dealing with sensitive privacy related information, your UI has to make it very clear where your data is, when it is going to be transfered to another machine, and what the privacy policy of the said machine is. Every time data moves across a boundary, the user should know this an be provided a choice. UIs that deal with personal information should be about showing the seams, not being seamless.

Ross and Judith also chime in.

2 Comments

Like the stitches on a baseball...

Absolutely agreed Joi. It is already the case that often "the seams" of an application get hidden or lost in GUIs, but when we start dealing with enormous amounts of "personal" data (emails, contacts/people/friendsoffriends, syndicated content, IM transcripts, shared calendars, etc, the complexity of managing it all goes through the roof.. and UI folks are scrambling to figure out how to present it... both the designers and the techs.

Trust, algorithmic prediction & filtering, complexity imaging, etc... The days of "Click & drag" into "Groups" and "Folders" are gone...

I won't bother repeating what I said over there ( http://weblog.siliconvalley.com/column/dangillmor/archives/010233.shtml ) a few weeks ago, which touches most the same points you have here, except in my inimitable crankypants fashion, with regard to Plaxo, anyway.

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