There are striking parallels in designing for social computing and creating living space, both starts with an interactive experience. Can those two fields cross-fertilize each other?
In this video Tom Erickson, a veteran designer for IBM and Apple, talks about how urban planning has influenced his thinking about social computing platforms. In particular he refers to
Jane Jacobs' influential book "
The Life and Death of Great American Cities". The core principle is to design for
interaction, for example to create opportunities for people to strike up conversations with strangers.
I find these principles, while rather theoretical and high level, an intriguing perspective and I wonder whether the field of social computing could not also feed back to urban planning. Can we apply some of what we have learnt about online communities apply to actual cities? Can online communities be a starting point to (re-)build real world communities? Can the virtual world supplement the real one in meaningful ways to achieve vibrancy?