Jun 10

Talk outline: VTM web design conference next week

Things have been quiet – I just finished writing the final drafts for my book. Big deadline over, so I’ll be blogging a lot over the next few months, introducing some ideas from the book.

Next week I’m excited to speak at the VTM web design conference. Here is an outline of my talk. What parts interest you the most? What would you like to hear me write more about on this blog?

The web of people
The web is undergoing a fundamental change from a web of documents to a web of people. This change is not being driven by new technologies, but by human behavior that is thousands of years old.

How people are connected
People’s social networks have complex structures. Many interconnected people and groups means millions of people are linked through a small number of connections. But it’s important not to confuse possibility with reality. Most people communicate regularly with less than 15 people.

How people relate to each other
People have different types of relationships and rely on some people for very different things than other people. We have three types of ties: Strong ties are the people we care about most. Weak ties are people we don’t know very well. Temporary ties are people we interact with temporarily.

How people interact with each other
People choose different communication channels depending on whether they need to communicate with one person, a few people, or many people. Despite the rise of online social networks, voice calls and text messages dominate people’s communication habits. Email also remains very important. The majority of communication instances happen with a small number of strong ties.

How people influence each other
Our access to information is increasing but our capacity for memory remains the same. So when considering whether something is useful and valuable for us, we rely on others. We place much higher trust in strong ties and in people who share our lifestyle than in celebrities, bloggers, or hipsters. The common ways companies use to target influential people are oversimplified. To measure influence, it’s just as important to measure how influenceable someone is as how influential someone is.

How people display themselves to others
Our identities are not only crafted by us, but also shaped by our connections and environments. We use everyday conversation, including status updates on social networks, to continually shape and refine our identity. Our identities help us recognize common ground for interacting with others, and to judge whether we should trust someone we don’t know. People need to display different facets of their identity to the different groups in their life.

How people manage who sees their personal information
Privacy is about controlling what other people know about us. When we give away personal information, we expect it to stay within a certain boundary and not be publicized. People, young and old, care deeply about their privacy. However, they often misunderstand privacy settings, and underestimate the size of their audience, leading to a perception that they care less about their privacy than they used to.

How interactions on the web are changing
The next stage of the web won’t have destinations, it will be a distributed network of content and people that will get reassembled depending on context and relationships. The increase in people interactions on the web will mean that building and managing communities will be important for responding to customer suggestions, queries, and complaints. Communities will need to be embedded in consumer experiences and not built at a new destination.