Building Sites Around Social Objects

Design & User Experience
Location: 2005 Level:
Average rating: ***..
(3.92, 13 ratings)

Successful social sites are not just friend networks. They are built around objects that connect people with shared interests. For example, the object on Flickr is a photo, on Jaiku and Twitter it is a status update, and on YouTube it is a video.

But turning an idea into a shareable object is not always so simple. We’ll ask, what makes a good social object? For instance, Dopplr is built around trips that have 3 simple elements (two dates and a location) that can be used to make social connections. This talk will deconstruct the social objects and verbs on which well-known successes and exciting new startups are built on.

We will compare and contrast different approaches teams have taken to build social objects. Some examples are:

  • music: vs. Soundcloud
  • products: Ebay vs. Thinglink
  • trips: Tripit vs. Dopplr

The talk will conclude with a set of principles for building services around social objects.

Photo of Jyri Engestrom

Jyri Engestrom


Jyri Engeström co-founded microblogging service Jaiku with Petteri Koponen in 2006. A native of Helsinki, Finland, he moved to San Francisco when Google acquired Jaiku in 2007. He is currently Product Manager at Google, where he has been responsible for areas of Google’s social infrastructure including Google Profiles, Google’s sharing model, and the Social Graph API. Prior to Jaiku he occupied the position of Senior Product Manager at Nokia, responsible for Nokia’s Linux-based Internet Handhelds products. A sociologist by training, he is noted for coining the term ‘social objects’ to refer to photos, bookmarks, and other shareable Web content. He blogs at

  • 3Tera, Inc
  • Ascentium
  • Awareness
  • HiveLive, Inc.
  • ImageSpan
  • Jive Software
  • Juniper Networks
  • Kapow Technologies
  • Keynote Systems
  • LithiumTechnologies
  • Nokia
  • nomee
  • Qtask
  • Rackspace Hosting
  • Remy
  • TamTamy
  • Vignette
  • Yola (fka SynthaSite)
  • Znak
  • IBM
  • eBay
  • Microsoft Corporation
  • Adobe Systems, Inc.
  • EffectiveUI
  • Germany Trade & Invest
  • NeuStar
  • ONEsite

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