For a decade starting in 1997, I directed the Sociable Media Group at the MIT Media Lab, working with an extraordinary group of students. Many of the ideas and examples in this book come from projects we designed and built there. Throughout the book, examples marked with an asterisk are from work this group created. My warmest thanks to Karrie Karahalios, Fernanda Viégas, Roy Rodenstein, Rebecca Xiong, David Chiou, danah boyd, Dana Spiegel, Kelly Dobson, Hyun-Yeul Lee, Scott Golder, Ethan Perry, Christine Liu, Andrew Fiore, Aaron Zinman, Drew Harry, Orkan Telhan, Francis Lam, Dietmar Offenhuber, Alex Dragulescu, Yannick Assogba, Matt Lee, Joey Rozier, Rodrigo Leroux, Derek Tang, Raffi Krikorian, and Jawad Laraqui. Special thanks to my mentors at the Media Lab, Andy Lippman and Nicholas Negroponte.
Ken Goldberg has been a wonderful collaborator and colleague. I have learned a great deal from many conversations with Martin Wattenberg, Sherry Turkle, Jeremy Bailenson, Natalie Jeremijenko, Ben Shneiderman, Pattie Maes, Michael Naimark, Paul Dourish, Jeffrey Huang, Gilad Lotan, Eric Paulos, Keith Hampton, Ken Perlin, Christina Yang, Marc Smith, George Fifield, Robin Dunbar, and many others. I owe a debt of inspiration to Barry Wellman and Jim Hollan.
I have had the excellent fortune to be a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society for the last several years. It is the yin to the Media Lab’s yang, embracing technology but also questioning it. I am especially grateful to the group of fellow book-writing Fellows who have provided criticism, encouragement, and much-needed interim deadlines: Ethan Zuckerman, David Weinberger, Doc Searls, Colin Maclay, Eszter Hargittai, Christian Sandvig, Wendy Seltzer, Jason Kaufman, Lokman Tsui, Zeynep Tufecki, and Reynol Junco. Members of the Social Media Collective at Microsoft New England also graciously read a draft and provided helpful advice—thank you to Nancy Baym, Kate Crawford, Mary Gray, Kate Miltner, Hector Postigo, Megan Finn, and Jean Burgess. Thank you also to Lisa Randall for insightful comments and camaraderie.
Doug Sery, my editor at the MIT Press, has been wonderfully patient and encouraging as this book grew from a short text on designing social media to a deeper, more analytical and also longer (both in words and, especially, in writing time) book. Doug has an unsurpassed network of scholars and writers in the areas of new media and design, and he found excellent reviewers for this manuscript. I would like to thank these anonymous critics for their thorough readings; they improved this book tremendously with their insightful comments. Margy Avery was an excellent guide through the thicket of the publishing process and Judy Feldmann provided precise copyediting. One of this book’s key arguments is that appealing designs encourage people to linger longer and delve more deeply—I am very grateful to Yasuyo Iguchi for the beautiful design of these pages.
I am very grateful for the support and humor of many friends. Thank you to Debbie, Joanne, Laura, Susan, Claire, and many others for both encouragement and much welcome distraction.
My warmest thanks to my family—my partner John and my children Van and Anya—for their love and patience (and some motivating impatience). The joy of their presence made writing this book a pleasure.