If you’re designing a social application at the moment, think about how you can be quiet.
This is just one of a million pleas from socially networked people everywhere who are going to great efforts to manage the noise that their networked applications are generating at times when they really need some quiet time to focus.
Some systems (ahem, FaceBook) can be VERY noisy and make the process of quietening more difficult than it needs to be.
Others seem simpler, but the lack of ‘friends management’ tools mean that you can be a lot noisier than perhaps you’d like to be.
But – perhaps the biggest challenge of all is that there are soooo many different systems we need to dial down – just when you think you’ve got them all, something else sneaks through to interrupt you.
Imagine if there was one panel somewhere that all of your noisy applications could hook into and then a big volume control that you can adjust based on how available you are to your network. (Is there some kind of a microformat we can make for this Jeremy?)
So when you’re super busy and you need to focus, you can, with minimal effort, dial down the noise to allow you to concentrate. And when you’re hanging out and are completely open to connections – dial it back up again.
Kind of like how you need different levels and types of ambient noise to match various activities in your day. (In my my presentation on Ambient Intimacy at Reboot I suggested an important challenge for ‘social designers’ was to think more about how to design for ambience in social applications).
In the meantime… until we get this great big volume control… let’s those of us who are designing social applications be thoughtful about this particular user requirement. Let’s make sure it’s easy for our users to quieten us down, and then pump us back up again.
Otherwise they’ll keep banging on about this attention scarcity thing even more and switch us off altogether.