Online Friction: Studying Micro-level Sociotechnical Conflicts to Elicit User Experience

Online Friction: Studying Micro-level Sociotechnical Conflicts to Elicit User Experience

Jörgen Skågeby (Stockholm University, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-507-0.ch009
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Abstract

This chapter presents conflicts as a central unit of analysis in investigations of online social media sharing. Social media sharing services generate interesting sociotechnical problems as they often make social structures explicit, resulting in observable user experience conflicts. As such, they also present a genre of services where theories of social structure become highlighted and, at times, challenged. Three examples of conflicts, from three different types of networks, are presented. The conflicts were elicited through online, ethnography-inspired, methods. It is argued that the conceptual conflicts help researchers and designers to postulate, find and examine concerns and intentions of users who try to resolve the conflict or move from one end of the conflict to the other. Thechapter also demonstrates three viable ways to communicate analytical conflict insights, intended to inform interaction design, namely use qualities, analytical dimensions and design patterns.
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Internet Forums And User Experiences

Finding conflicts between individuals, activity details, groups and technology is not a new focus for research into human-computer interaction (HCI), computer-supported collaborative work (CSCW) or interaction design (ID). However, online discussion forums provide a novel source for discovering conflicts and subsequently eliciting user experience and user requirements. As these emerging data sources and accompanying elicitation techniques have only begun to be explored in UE research, and then often in the shape of moderated and prompted “virtual focus groups” (Kuniavsky, 2003), there is great opportunity to examine the viability of such resources and methods for future UE research. This paper uses the term UE as an enveloping concept including the overall combined user perceptions of, in this case, social media sharing systems, but more importantly, UE conceptually puts the end-user and his/hers subjective experience at the center of analysis, design and development efforts. UE in the context of social media systems is particularly interesting as the development of systems that mediate social activities, particularly on the massive scale that many current social media systems are, highlight certain social phenomena and social structures in a more clear and marked ways. This often happens as design features sometimes deliberately, sometimes by accident facilitate or bar certain social intentions or concerns.

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