Socialstream is a system where users can seamlessly share, view, and respond to many types of social content across multiple networks. It is the result of a rigorous user-centered design process that involved formal research and evaluation with over 35 participants and weekly critiques from clients and colleagues.
Background Assumption: A Unified Social Network (USN)
One of the original assumptions made when designing Socialstream was that it would be able to draw content from a variety of sources. Socialstream would be based on a unified social network (USN), a single network that provides social data to other sites as a service. A service model allows many social networks to be linked together, letting them share both content and the nature of the relationships of the people who use them. A USN would, in practice, be invisible. All participating sites would simply share information through it. While the centralization of social information would enhance all applications that use it, the USN’Äôs own interface would be very simple, perhaps only focusing on preferences and privacy controls that applied everywhere. Socialstream represents one possible way of accessing the information spread across participating networks.
Description & Benefits
Socialstream emphasizes improving social connections by making it more efficient to communicate with, share with, and view the social content of all the people in a user's online social network. Socialstream provides a compelling user experience because it aggregates content across many different networks so a user has a single location to discover new content and communicate. The goal of Socialstream is to present social information in a way that ties it to the person who posted the information, and not the site from which it came.
Socialstream derives some of its benefits from an underlying USN, and provides a few of its own:
Aggregated Social Content
Presenting all of a person's social content in a single site makes it easier for users to keep up-to-date with their contacts by making the process of finding information takes less effort and time. With Socialstream, users no longer have to jump from site to site just to see if or what their contacts have been up to, since all information is easily accessible from a single location.
Serendipity & Structure
Since users browse information in different ways, Socialstream features two major forms of interaction: a timeline and content overview that provides serendipitous exploration of content, as well as a contact list that provides a structured list of all unread content updates.
Sharing Without Barriers
Socialstream allows users to post content to any participating network. Because of this, it can inherit the ability to handle any type of content: photos, blogs, video, audio, events, and many forms of structured data. By consolidating the controls for publishing in one place, users are free to consider the content of their posts, and only as an afterthought specify the people who should see it and the sites that host it. By consolidating content in one place, Socialstream increases the benefit of commentary and referring posts, and lowers the barriers to participation.
To allow publishers to see the reaction to their posts, Socialstream has interface elements which allow you to see all of the posts that you have made, track recent viewers of your content, and see new comments on your posts. Users no longer have to post information from numerous distinct locations and travel between several sites to see viewers of the content and the comments that have been made.
Users Can Help Each Other
Expanding on the basic ability to invite other users, Socialstream allows members to send out a starter account template pre-populated with specified contacts. Users can join without setting up anything. This is intended both as a way of encouraging others to participate, and help less technical users avoid a complex registration process.