MAS 963  ·  Designing Sociable Media  ·  Spring 2007

03.01 Graphical spaces

Much online social interaction occurs in a placeless domain - there is no space to email, chats occur in metaphoric rooms but their spatiality is quite abstract. Yet, as you read in last week's Lakoff and Johnson assignment, we are fundamentally spatial - it is difficult or impossible for us to imagine events occuring "outside" a spatial "framework".

Thus, the idea of online systems that are literally spatial is quite appealing. This week, we will look at ways of creating online graphical spaces.



Ducheneaut and Moore    The social side of gaming: a study of interaction patterns in a massively multiplayer online game
Viegas and Donath    Chat Circles


  • Read the papers.
  • Explore Second Life and Chat Circles
    Second Life is a large scale 3d online environment with thousands of active users. Chat Circles is a small experimental project (it was developed in a class much like this) - if you want to have someone to talk to, it is a good idea to arrange to log in at the same time as others in the class. The point is not to directly compare them, but to give you the experience of contrasting a literal, 3D site with an abstract 2D site, though clearly Second Life is a far more extensive environment.
  • Design your own space. We will be working on this for a couple of weeks, with many variations, so this is just your initial foray into thinking about these issues. Think about the following questions:
    1. What do people look like? Do they determine their own appearance or is it set by the system? A
    2. How do people move in the space
    3. What is the function of the space - shy would you move from one place to another?
    4. How do people communicate?
    5. What forces act on the participants?
  • Extra credit Find an interesting example of an interactive graphical world that is not a large scale game a la World of Warcraft. Describe it briefly and post the url.

Please link your work by early afternoon on Wednesday.