Enumerating social media patterns: a work in progress

thumbnail section of social media patterns graph
At BarCamp Block earlier this year I led a discussion of social media design patterns. The slides I posted were really more just about patterns and how we deal with them at Yahoo! But the group exercise was to brainstorm a huge list of social media and social networking activities that could be described and documented as patterns.

These are not the patterns themselves, but at least one pattern could probably be written around each of these gestures. We found it easiest in the brainstorm to just rattle off a list of gerunds (“adding, blocking, friending,” etc.).

The list we came up is also not exhaustive or definitive. It’s one group’s idea of the various patterns that a social system could support. The initial list was posted at the BarCamp Block wiki. Then Kent Bye, one of the participants, took a stab at re-sorting it a bit and created a visualization. He also then hand-copied it into an outline format and sent me his “version two” of the list.

Since then I’ve made a few more tweaks and have produced a version 3 outline. I’ve been working on visualizing it myself, so I turned the OPML into an OmniOutliner file and then imported that into OmniGraffle. The map is so tangled that Graffle had a hard time displaying it without crossing lines, so I spent some more time dragging the various nodes and clusters around until they were each separate. The end result is that it’s huge of course, and still by no means final or exhaustive or authoritative.

In fact, it’s decidedly *not* the taxonomy of social media patterns we’re working on internally at Yahoo! Think of it as an open source, collaborative work in progress. The thumbnail image above links to a full-sized PDF you should feel free to grab to get a better look at the current state of play of this idea, and if you’d like the OPML file or any other format, just drop me a note and I’ll send it to you.

When I get a moment, I’ll drop by the BarCamp Block wiki and upload the file there in several formats too, at least until someone provides a better place for hosting this project.

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