Small changes in social apps engender completely different social behavior

It’s funny how apps like Twitter, Facebook, Whisper, Reddit, Email, ordinary message boards and Instagram have a tremendous amount of overlapping functions but produce completely different social behavior.

Facebook causes people to post accomplishments and safe uplifting stories because its everyone you know and tied to you

Twitter causes people to announce news because of the one way follower dynamic

Whisper causes people to post repressed fantasies because its anonymous

Reddit causes people to post interesting things because it’s segmented by interest and voted on.

Ordinary v2 bulletin boards cause more back and forth debate because of the ease and visibility of a public back and forth where people go line by line when they disagree with someone but don’t say anything when they agree

Eric Schmidt had some interesting comments on the way we should handle email:

“Respond quickly: There are people who can be relied upon to respond promptly to emails, and those who can’t. Strive to be one of the former. Most of the best — and busiest — people we know act quickly on their emails, not just to us or to a select few senders, but to everyone.”

People attribute their actions to choice but the tiniest change in font size on a page can alter it drastically. Stack overflow was designed to focus on answers and not discussion in part by making comments tiny. This very blog post is only occurring because I installed Evernote. I used to email myself posts to post to WordPress later. That worked but using ever note is probably 10% better which has pushed me into doing this rather than just sitting there in line or on the train.

I find this interesting from the standpoint that we believe we have free will when in fact we’re just responding to subtle environmental prompts. I believe human cognition is limited not in our inability to remember or perform difficult cognitive tasks but our pitiful attention. We underestimate how influenced we are by advertising or friends or whatever were currently reading because their influence is not that they persuade us but rather that they put things on our map and cause us to give attention.

This will have some implications as apps like LinkedIn, Meetup, Uber, Groupon, and Airbnb are bringing the digital world into the real world. Blog posts for their part seem to engender overly long solipsistic boring essays I think because it feels to authors like nobody is reading them, people use them to think out loud, and it becomes a one sided conversation.

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