Sociability Aspects of iGoogle

As presented in the reading, a fundamental aspect of everyday life is being social. I am going to present the different social mechanisms in communication and collaboration that are presented in the application iGoogle.

Conversation: A fundamental aspect of any social setting is conversation. Conversation that occurs over the web is typically based around what would happen in an everyday social setting, but obviously there are both some limitations and advantages of conversing over the web. iGoogle presents its conversation in the form of widgets. One widget that can be used is the Twitter widget. Twitter is a social site where users can post their “status” (any amount of information up to 140 characters to describe what you are doing) to all of their “followers” (people on Twitter who are subscribed to see your information). While this sort of conversing is much different than calling someone or speaking to someone in person, it does have the advantage of being able to reach out to thousands of people at once in a type of conversation. Other widgets available for iGoogle include AIM and Facebook, which each allow conversation in their individual way, whether it be through instant messaging, sending messages to be read at a later time, or posting on someone’s wall. The possibilities are close to endless with communication over iGoogle, due to the new widgets being added daily, with many of these focusing on conversation.

Coordination: Coordination consists of verbal and non-verbal communication, schedules, rules, and conventions, and shared and external representations. iGoogle uses both verbal and non-verbal communication in its interface. The verbal aspect can be achieved by installing widgets like the Skype application, which allows you to use your Skype account to make phone calls through your computer. The non-verbal aspect is achieved by using widgets like Twitter, AIM, Facebook, and Google chat. The schedules, rules, and conventions aspect of coordination are achieved by using your Google calendar widget to organize your day. The shared and external representations can be used in a similar way to the schedules part achieved in the last example, by actually sharing your Google calendar with colleagues. Another way could be to keep in contact with Google chat, or send an email from you Gmail account.

Awareness: Awareness is composed of knowing who is around, what is happening, and who is talking with whom. The awareness component of the sociability of iGoogle can largely be completed by using the Twitter gadget. With this app, users post what they are working on, what they are doing, or what they are thinking about. This lets you know what your friends are doing in a much easier fashion than getting in contact with each one of them individually. iGoogle allows this interaction to happen in a seamless way, by allowing access to outside applications that are designed to be based upon sociability. People use apps like Twitter to not only monitor the social aspects of others, but also to announce their own personal social aspects to be monitored by others.

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