Chan, Adrian

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Adrian Chan is a researcher specializing in social software and 'relations'.

Information provided by the author.


Social software blog at

Index to writings in pdf format, at

Index to social software postings, at


"My project Venn is:

--Proximities. I believe tech of communication fundamentally changes our proximity to one another, meaning we now need a sociology of proximity based not on spatial copresence but on presence negotiation (access to people, issues of "absence"), and built on temporality not space (routines, an understanding of "open states of talk", durations (the persistence of relations, norms, events, and communication over time). TIME is the least understood dimension of any connective technology.

--Interaction dynamics. What happens when 2 or more people interact through a technology. Issues of communication (information capture, archiving, access, search, persistence, privacy, public/private). Issues of interaction (gestural and paralinguistic handling, ambiguity, intimacies, timing, and of course self-presentation). I am starting a project I would like to be an A-Z of pschological experiences and transformations. Using the DSM (psychiatric diagnostic manual) and my own take on psych, which is biased towards British School of Object Relations, Transactional Analysis, Group dynamics, I'm interested in how SSNs, IM, chat, vidchat, discussions, blogs, email, bec they are asynch or near-synch, screen identities, defer confirmations and acknowledgments, permit "unratified participants" (eg lurkers), disrupt episodic talk, screw w/ turn taking, authority and position, etc. I have ideas like "borderline or narcissists love SSN's!" You get the picture. Presence is co-produced by its technology....

--Social systems. Culture, online community, groups, networks, p2p. All of these involve: action coordination; in/formal communication; transactions; trust; boundaries; rhythms; speech as text. For this I use anthro and sociology, mostly french/german/british. Some ethnomethodology (eg. XOX PARC). I'm big on applying Niklas Luhmann's systems theory here. Goffman, Giddens, and Habermas. A bit of Foucault, Bourdieu, and Habermas. A bit of Kevin Kelly/Negroponte/Linked/Six Degrees stuff. Some SNA (social network analysis, tho it's too topological and never describes th nature of a relation, only its traffic).

--Talk systems. I profoundly believe that much of mediated communication and interaction must be understood as Talk. It's linguistically-mediated exchange. As such, I believe it has to address habermas' three truth claims: facticity, sincerity, and normative rightfulness. We need to understand the stretch of talk, span of activity, sequencing and seriality of activity, in a mediated talk. I separate communication tools and interaction tools, the former being about capturing/archiving/searching/presenting contributions; the latter being about handling meanings, implications, emotional expression, timing, context, theme, and interaction dynamics of interactions. Communication tool is a tribe discussion. Private message is an interaction tool.

--Socially structured content. This is a new project, inspired by canter's structured blogging (which is baked into the GoingOn platform). So I have a framework of content types, their presentation modules, their sort by, filter by, link to organization. All based on idea that the designer can only influence participation. But that any info onscreen informs what happens as populations grow, over time. In a word, if LinkedIn were to add pictures, shit would change...