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Software for Skyscrapers
William Davies, iSociety
James Crabtree

Track: Social Software
Date: Tuesday, February 10
Time: 4:30pm - 5:15pm
Location: California Ballroom B

The iSociety team is working with British architects Marks Barfield (designers of the famous London Eye ferris wheel) on the implementation of social software in their radical and acclaimed new housing project, Skyhouse. Skyhouse will be a mixed-use, mixed-tenure skyscraper, creating high-density housing for 800 people from a range of cultural and economic backgrounds. It will have Wi-Fi access throughout. This is an entirely new context for social software implementation for two reasons:

  1. High-density: unlike other contexts for social software implementation, Skyhouse will create repeat face-to-face interaction between strangers, creating new uses and benefits for social software.
  2. The community is highly diverse: our research on "social capital" shows that diversity splinters into cliques unless third parties exist to support it. How could social software perform a brokerage role in such a context?

This context leads us to analyze social software design in three segments:

  1. Infrastructural support: A large, dense, diverse community needs a system that can support the weak shared interests that emerge from shared infrastructure. What type of system would work to coordinate the interests of all 800 residents?
  2. Cultural support: Beyond physical proximity, residents will develop smaller, cultural networks that require richer communication and barriers to entry. How would a semi-open social networking application work to support this in a residential context?
  3. Rule-based networks: Between infrastructural inclusiveness and cultural exclusiveness, rule-based networks would develop based upon individual self-interest (e.g., trade, sport, childcare). How does social software help here?

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