Physical place as a social object

For a while now, I’ve been intrigued by a concept of social objects. The idea of social objects on Internet is that they’re objects around which conversation happens, they’re shared and interacted with. The most common example is Flickr, where they’ve turned images into something more by giving community ability to comment, tag, share, embed, group and otherwise interact with images. YouTube did the same for videos, while MySpace is king in music space.

Social Object Shirts?
Image by thinkjose via Flickr

But lets make thought experiment a bit harder. How would one introduce social objects into organization like Kiberpipa, with daily events and lots of different activities?

My current proposal would be to try and clone Facebook‘s news feed as they’ve successfully managed to turn actions like going to an event or just saying to someone on their Wall into a social object, that can be commented on or acted upon (also RSVP-ing to event, joining the group, etc).

Lots of social objects on Facebook
Lots of social objects on Facebook

Lets explore this in a case of physical event space, like Kiberpipa. Right now mailing list sends me email that ends with a rather generic signature:

Kersnikova 6
1000 Ljubljana
pon.-pet.: 10.00 – 22.00
info at
prost vstop / prost dostop / prosto programje

Why not add something like this to it:

Please confirm your attendance to this event at the following address: http://www…

Upon visiting the site, you would get listing for event on different social networks and event management systems. Smart API mashup, would pull the participants from different networks that said that they will come and display them alongside the event listing on Kiberpipa page itself. This way RSVP-ing to the event, could become a social object, something that you check for your friends and nudge people to confirm if you don’t see them on the list.

Why bother? Getting people to actually visit your event in this time of loose focus is one of the hardest things to achieve. Building a tool that uses peer groups to push this information about event to them is highly efficient method of providing this information to target audience that will appreciate it most and by leveraging social context give them extra incentives to actually visit.

If you want to learn more about social objects, I would advise great blog post on gaping void as well as embedded presentation from Jaiku‘s Jyri Engestrom:

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3 thoughts on “Physical place as a social object

  1. Good stuff.
    I'm obviously not in touch with the lastest web terminology, but “social objects” is a great phrase for something i've been admiring in FB…

    And I fully agree with your idea, but it will probably take something like Google's OpenSocial to merge various identitites that people use (Facebook, Google Account, Disqus, Twitter…) into a single conversation.

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