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Usability and Digital Communities: How looking at the Usability and Sociability of Digital Communities can become important instruments on the savvy HCI Engineer’s tool belt. A talk by Brazos Price
Overview: • What are Digital Communities? • Why are they important? • How do we evaluate them? • ROI? • Wrap-up • Future Research
What are Digital Communities? Via Merriam-Webster Online: • Digital: of or relating to data in the form of numerical digits • Community: an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location • Usability: convenient and practicable for use So Digital Community Usability deals with making information convenient and practical for interacting populations in a common location or space
What are Digital Communities? Examples: • Early Internet was built on communities • BBS, USENET, MUDS, MOOS, ETCETERA • Prodigy vs Compuserve vs AOL (29Million) • ICQ (104million users) vs AIM • MMORPGS and IGE • Sportsblogs, Daily Kos and Chessgames • Myspace vs Friendster vs Facebook • IMDB and Amazon • Yahoo Finance
What are Digital Communities? Examples: Aol Instant Messenger (AIM) via iChat
What are Digital Communities? Examples: MMORPGS Everquest vs World of Warcraft Old King New King 430,000 users “EverCrack” 600,000+ users, over 3 Million Characters
What are Digital Communities? Examples: MMORPGS Second Life vs Project Entropia Both MMORPGS with soaring communities and economies
What are Digital Communities? Examples: IGE - Currency Speculators? “Analysts estimate the 2005 marketplace for virtual assets in MMOGs is approaching $900 million. Some experts believe that the market for virtual assets will overcome the primary market—projected to reach $7 billion by 2009—within the next few years.”
What are Digital Communities? Examples: Social Networks MySpace vs Friendster vs Facebook Loads of Users. Specific Community. Advertising dollars.
What are Digital Communities? Examples: Social Networks Anecdotes: MySpace vs Friendster vs Facebook
What are Digital Communities? Examples: SportsBlogs
What are Digital Communities? Examples: Chessgames
What are Digital Communities? Examples: eCommerce - Amazon
What are Digital Communities? Examples: IMDB
What are Digital Communities? Examples: Yahoo Finance
Why are they Important? • People Use and participate in them • (Friendster vs Myspace vs Facebook) • There is money to be made in them • (Why did eBay pay so much for Skype?) • Lots of research potential • (Virtual communities modeling economies) • Useful for helping people - see Second Life • (Patients with Asperberger’s have an island)
How do we evaluate them? • Traditional Usability Proceedings • Be aware of Sociability • Can be usable but not effective • Indicators of success
How do we evaluate them? Usability: Information Design, Social Interaction, etc. • Traditional Metrics still apply • Speed of learning • Productivity • User satisfaction • Errors
How do we evaluate them? Type of Community matters, Perspective Sociability - designing to support social interactions: • Ethnographies • People - who • Purpose - what • Policy - why
How do we evaluate them? Examples of Sociability: • Xbox Live - MSFT mandated VOIP • (Is VOIP worth it?) • Athletics Nation - Community Moderation • World of Warcraft - Clans • Project Entropia - Property
How do we evaluate them? Determinants of Success • How many people use the community • Interactivity ex: “Thread Depth” • Quality ex: “Selling rating” • Reciprocity ex: “Lurking” • Those linked to specific policies • Trustworthiness
ROI? • Users tend to propagate themselves • Digital Communities have huge potentials for growth • Users = Ad Dollars • Users = Subscription Revenue • Physically removing oneself from a digital community is easier than a “real” community
Wrap-Up • Digital Communities Exist • They are important • We can evaluate them and improve them • Improvement through testing is valuable • Where do we go from here?
Future Research • Digital Community as laboratory for real-world • “The keywords for the utopists are liberation, freedom and flexibility. This view stresses the recognition of the variety, the pluralism and diversity in the virtual communities, where age, gender and race do not matter. They also stress the empowering and liberating importance of the use of the Internet.”
References • Hew, K., et. Al Usability and Sociability of the Xbox Live Voice Channel Paper presented at the Australian Workshop on Interactive Entertainment, University of Technology Sydney, 13 February 2004 • Preece, J., Maloney-Krichmar, D. and Abras, C. (2003 in press) History of Emergence of Online Communities. In B. Wellman (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Community. Berkshire Publishing Group, Sage • Preece, J. and Diane Maloney-Krichmar (2003) Online Communities. In J. Jacko and A. Sears, A. (Eds.) Handbook of Human-Computer Interaction, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. Publishers. Mahwah: NJ. 596-620. • Preece, J. (2001) “Sociability and usability in online communities: determining and measuring success” BEHAVIOUR & INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, 20(5) , 347-356 • http://hcs.science.uva.nl/usr/beckers/publications/seattle.html • http://muse.jhu.edu.content.lib.utexas.edu:2048/journals/postmodern_culture/v014/14.2hayot_wesp.html
Thank You Questions?