Friday, December 5, 2008

metrics in the hands of users

You might have been wondering what I meant when I suggested California Closets revamp my FB account-- my strange need to classify my social graph for optimal predictive ability (e.g. product and music selections). What would new ways to organize and search my FB account really look like? Do I really want a metric next to each friend telling me how similar our tastes are or how good of friends we *really* are?

As I was thinking about this, I was reminded of Xobni and its impact on the lives of two of the more addicted emailers I know. I remembered a former colleague telling me she found out I was her top emailee, but lowest emailer; she quickly stopped emailing me so much. Not only was the app cool, but useful.

Another friend told me Xobni clued them in to their "real" workgroup-- not the one the org chart dictated, but the colleagues who actually facilitate getting work done. Earlier today, someone mentioned an Adium app that analyzes IM usage stats to give you a sense of contacts' likelihood to respond, given your interaction history. Naturally, armed with this type of info, you can see how metrics can directly impact behavior.

So I started thinking about metrics in the hands of users (full disclosure: a discussion that evolved in talking to others). People always think of metrics as managerial tools, but really they should be in the hands of users to bring about the awareness and subsequent change in behavior that managers are most likely interested in in the first place.


Chris Allison said...

I'd like a way to find the people with the most friends at various universities on facebook....have an interesting experiment to use them for. Alas, not really a way to search for that. Ideas? Thanks for the interesting post.

kate said...

No, but you raise an interesting point which is that we have no norms/benchmarks for # of friends- beyond our own social networks. You might start by making this phase 1 of your research project: have participants database their networks on FB to determine the median number of friends people have (and if you're going to ask this, there are several other things you should explore). At the least, you'd be able to better segment your findings in subsequent phases. Make sense?

I'd ask FB Research directly, particularly if this is an academic experiment.

Robert said...

If you like Xobni, you should check out Gist ( It works with Outlook as well as Gmail and brings together web-based information about those you communicate with in one place. We are in private beta so please sign up, ping me, and I'll get you set up.

Gist, Inc.

Maya Swedowsky said...

I'm glad I provide so many real life examples for your social abacus!

kate said...

anything to encourage people to join the conversation... Would love to hear your perspective on this issue-- would think you would appreciate the idea of arming individuals with metrics to enhance their interactions.