Social networks and the wireframe as a boundary object.

The objects that mediate the ties between people” is a powerful concept. On LinkedIn, the “recommendation” is an object that truly connects people, creates lock-in and ads long-term value (more than the network itself, the “friend” connection, for example).

From that post: “Think about the object as the reason why people affiliate with each
specific other and not just anyone. For instance, if the object is a
job, it will connect me to one set of people whereas a date will link
me to a radically different group. This is common sense but
unfortunately it’s not included in the image of the network diagram
that most people imagine when they hear the term ‘social network.'”

Exactly. Social networks with objects that connect people are stronger, longer lasting and provide more value.

Social science has more to say about these objects: they can connect different domains of expertise. When they do that, they’re called boundary objects: objects that are used by different communities, and each community attaches different meaning to the object.

The wireframe (an IA deliverable) is a boundary object, and this power to connect different groups (desingers, coders, business people) through a shared object that has different meanings for each group is (I think) one of the reasons why the practice of information architecture has been such a success.

How exactly boundary objects and social networks that connect people through objects fit together I’m not sure. We’ll figure it out :)

2 thoughts on “Social networks and the wireframe as a boundary object.

  1. I love the concept of wireframe as boundary object.

    Of course, wireframes also create much dissent and cause friction. Not that these things are bad in the long term, but do social scientists talk much about such negative aspects of boundary objects?

  2. Well, the friction is because they enable communication, right? Which is good. I don’t know, I hear a lot about problems with wireframes but I’ve always felt clients (including tech teams and designers) can handle them pretty well. Perhaps I’ve just been lucky.

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