Thursday, 29 May 2008

Social Profile

From the users perspective social networking tools provide a means of creating and maintaining a profile of themselves with the ability to managed relationships with other users. Simplistically it displays a description of who I am, what skills I have and who I know/work with. In general this is defined by a user entering and maintaining information about themselves, a static profile. In general the static profile is made up of what the user considers to be important facts about themselves, or the information they want to highlight. However in addition to the users static profile there is also the users tacit or social profile. Essentially this represents the sum of the content the user has created using Social Content Creation tools and the content they have read and stored using Social Information Management tools. These ideas are illustrated in the diagram below along with how these tools interrelate.
In this diagram we see that in the bottom layer I create content, in the middle layer I consume content and at the top is me, the user. What this diagram illustrates is that a user is describe by both their static profile and by the sum of all their activity in the two layers below. This summed activity can be considered a social profile. The social profile is a transactional descriptor of the current interests and activities of a user and provides a time bounded snapshot of the user. The challenge is how to aggregate this social profile.


NicB said...

So I agree with you Ben and I would add a bit.
Static profile are as you say very much my opinion/description of myself or my organisation structural description (ie. where I sit, reporting hierarchy, department, etc.)

What is more interesting is as you say the dynamic aspect. The content I touch/view (you have this as consume), the content I create (you had this at the bottom of the triangle), the People I interact with or track (not stalk!) and the searches I perform. These last 2 items were missing from your description.

I would also add that as with content and the use of Folksonomy's. I would like to see a time where people tag my profile. This would be very interesting and as with content would describe a person as they are seen as opposed to how they would like to be seen :)

Patrice Chollet said...

Hi Ben. I like you description of individuals social profile very much, especially as it captures the dynamics of content creation, search and evaluation.

It seems to me that the "who I am" and "what I do" could be completed by "who do I interact with" and "what do they think of me and my contributions". That would include views of my social networks, the communities I belong to, recommendations that I got, comments to my blog posts, etc.

All the latter would concur to establishing an objective evaluation of my level of interactions, the pertinence of my contributions, my influence through trusted connections.

Of course, all this need to include more than the written content, it could be expanded to any kind of interactions including mult-media and synchronous media such as IM and telephone.

Ben Gardner said...

Nic/Patrice, Great suggestions and I completely agree I left out 'people I interact with' angle. My thinking was that this is the key functionality of a social networking tool. Thinking about it though it should have been included and I'll included it in the future.