Chris Willis, the co-author of the influential We Media report, and currently vice president of social media for Footnote.com (a site focusing on history-related materials) led off a session on "The Emerging Culture of the New Information Order." He stressed the importance of metaphors in organizing social media, and provided a powerful example. Noticing that visitors to the Vietnam War Memorial often leave behind comments, dog tags, flowers, etc. which are then removed, Footnote created an image of the entire wall, and is inviting its community to use it as a platform for comments, questions, and other forms of participation and interaction.
"We need to understand what it means to be human and to interact with others." He presented (slides will be posted on the nfais.org site) an adaptation of Maslowâs hierarchy relating each stage to the related requirements for social media ("when people feel safe they start doing things"). Challenges include: how to manage the tension between individual and group? How do you produce meaning from the miscellaneous?
His advice (not as simple as it sounds):
"Design to help people make your stuff better."