I wanted to talk about this a long time ago, but never came to this. But as I see my thesis evolving, I keep coming to this conclusion. With the new web techniques it’s easier to become emotionally involved into communities. It’s a general feeling I have when I’m browsing the different “web 2.0” communities. I found that there are a few things that can make your social connection in a community more emotional:
- Better User Experience: When interacting on a website, the flow of using the functionalities becomes more natural. It feels more direct, faster, … I think better UE also results in more interaction. Interaction feels more spontaneous.
- Folksonomy/Taxonomy: It becomes easier to find people with the same interest/problem/feeling. You can find people with whom you can emotionally connect.
- Rich Internet: Technology now gives users the possibility to share more than just text on the internet. It has become easy to share pictures/videos/audio/play lists/bookmarks/… The person behind a profile can become more reel. You can see him, hear him or both. The more aspects of a person you know, the better the social connection.
- Share your life: This is a general trend that can be seen online. People want to share their personal stuff to the world. The trust in the internet is back, they don’t mind putting photos online of their kids. Not only the technology but also the general trend makes your community richer. People want to get emotionally involved in communities.
- Subscribe to a person: With the growing popularity of feeds, it becomes easier to follow a person’s life.
My personal experience has learned me that if communities have the above aspects I will get involved emotionally. I can’t be attached to someone if I only read his/her opinion about one subject. I can be attached to someone if I know he/she likes going out, acting crazy, music, … I want to know how his/her voice sounds, how he/she looks, …
This emotional connection can exist out of a real life contact and become stronger trough your online profile. Or it can exist out of an online contact and grow to a real life contact (f.e. blog meetings, flash mobs).
Maybe this generally goes under the term social software, I just feel it can be more then just being social. It’s about emotions, it can go further than just a common interest. People want to share their emotions as well as find out about other peoples’ emotions. So the perfect online community should support every possible emotion, because my offline experience learns me that sharing emotions makes a band between people stronger than ever.
I’d love to research this in my thesis, the problem is it’s so difficult to prove things like this. I should talk about this with a psychologist or a sociologist. Any ideas how to prove this?
So off you go buzzword emotional web, hope to see you again.