Steven Blyth - A Thesis Summary, IDII 2005
Advisors - Neil Churcher & Jan-Christoff Zoels
The Social Fabric
Your social network explored through a visual language This page serves as a summary of my thesis work. The complete site will follow shortly.
My Social Fabric Thesis Report
Idea/problem/context: While tending not to let things slide in professional environments because of the immediate repercussions, we often neglect our personal lives, where the effect of our actions are less apparent. Good at building systems that assist us in structured environments like the workplace, we find it difficult to design for the ambiguous, less tangible nature of our social lives.
What it is: The Social Fabric is a representation of your social world, displayed as a single visual array on your mobile phone. It does not replace your address book or calendar but keeps you subtly informed about which relationships are prospering, which you have neglected, and the overall state of your social fabric.
How it works: Your phone's screen shows a crowd of human figures, each an avatar of one of your friends, acquaintances or relatives. The frequency of all digital communications between you and each person, which the system monitors, determines that avatar's posture: an alert stance indicates frequent recent contact, for example; a lethargic posture or turned back means neglect. You can also register non-digital contacts manually. The avatars can be grouped manually according to sentiment, category, and so on, or programmed to begin clustering together before an upcoming event: your family before a birthday, say.
Value/potential: More generally, this project shows how, as well as hard information (amply served by current applications), personal management tools can also record and represent the 'softer', more ambiguous, but still central aspects of our lives - and with no less elegance and power.