In general, computers and software are taking an increasingly social role for us. Our behavior hasnt become all that much more social (although it certainly has for some) but were learning how to effectively model our social needs in software. Three years ago the social aspects of software was email and chat messaging. Now, its forging online identity as profiles and embedded messaging within applications. Its become always-on, which means that there is no distinction between offline and online anymore. We are not just modeling messaging, were modeling presence as well. This is a big shiftand our language reflects it. Im on MySpace means that we are figuratively and literally on the site.
I quoted Wil Wright recently, and I think hes (pardon the pun) right on. First thought of as super calculators, computers are now part of the social fabric of our lives. They are becoming integral to how we communicate with our family, friends, and colleagues. Theyre still doing calculations of course, but the software that weve designed for them is all about human-to-human contact. Social contact. And since were social animals in the end, the trend of modeling this in software wont be reversing any time soon.