Schuresko one time mentioned using shared artifacts for collaboration and social network interaction. Instead of simply just clicking buttons in lists, users would manipulate representations of the activities/messages more like how one drags icons around on a desktop. He mentioned OLPC’s Sugar interface, and how other OLPC users show up as icons on the home screen, complete with icons indicating what activity they are currently engaged in. Since many of the OLPC applications are collaborative, clicking on a user’s icon will crate a shared session with him/her. Also, when users are collaborating, their icons appear huddled around the same activity icon.
I hadn’t seen anything like that interface before, especially deployed outside of a lab. I thought about that recently when trying to simply share a folder on my computer with Ming’s was an exercise in frustration. (Either we couldn’t log in to each other’s machines, or the network link would collapse immediately after beginning the transfer.)
Later, I saw an ad for Microsoft’s Kin phone. It interface (shown above, you have to click around on their link unfriendly site to find the video yourself) seems pretty novel. The user is initially presented with a graphical life stream. From this, they can drag items down to the area immediately below the stream (the “Kin Spot”) to share them with people in their address book. Again, destinations are selected from a graphical stream and dragged to the spot. Tapping the spot allows the final message is edited and then sent.
It would be interesting to create an interface like this for Diaspora, if that ever gets off the ground.
Actually the intent of my original idea was subtly different : like many people who got their start in graphics, I am somewhat stuck thinking of the computer as “a machine” and its contents as “virtual machines and/or objects” rather than “new structure for thought and communication, just like ‘written language’ or ‘math’ at their respective inceptions.” For this reason, I was thinking along the lines of “one uses one’s computer machine to interact with virtual objects, and it is much more fun/useful to interact with objects with other people, rather than alone on one’s private virtual object.” I suppose that technologies developed from this intent might be identical to products developed from the mindset of “collaboratively interacting with objects is a new way to interact with people,” which seems to be more of what you’re talking about.
Perhaps it is best to have a dual view of the matter : by collaborating one can better interact with and construct virtual objects, but by interacting with virtual objects together, one can better share and communicate with people.
It sounds like you’re saying you look at these shared activities from the view of: “Playing with a drawing program is fun, but it would be more fun if my friend in Antarctica could also draw with me,” as opposed to “How can my Antarctic friend and I collaborate? A drawing program would be nice.”
It seems to me that if you want to make something beyond a game, you end up having to take at least a dual view. I was going to say that I wonder what limits of this artifact paradigm are, but as I thought about what I actually meant, I realized that the question was meaningless.
For what it’s worth, I also think of virtual objects as machines, but I’ve always traced the reasoning back to being introduced to object orientation early in my modern programming career. (By “modern”, I mean “post C=64 Basic”.)