Thoughts/Essay

Labeling Subgraphs

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 - 6:53am -- Isaac Sukin

On Friday I went to a series of talks for the kickoff of the Marketing and Social Systems Engineering (MKSE) department at UPenn, chaired by one of my professors. There were four speakers -- I missed the second -- and the talks ranged from monetizing people's browsing behavior on the internet to proving that humans exist.

I've been building an open-source suite of social networking software as a hobby since 2007 so the underlying topic of network science has interested me for a long time. I have mainly focused on building user engagement. Towards that end I've thought a lot lately about the right way to represent relationships on a social networking website given varied successes and failures of Facebook's Friend Lists and new Smart Lists as well as Google+'s Circles. My expertise is in Drupal and the choices there all require tediously, manually building your network. I'm convinced that the best approach for usability is to automatically identify people's friend groups. In general it's a good principle not to make users do anything that is not directly related to accomplishing their task of participating on your site, and manually maintaining friend lists is awkward anyway.

Why Facebook's Redesign is Spot On

Wed, Sep 21, 2011 - 8:44pm -- Isaac Sukin

Facebook made a few significant changes that became visible to most users starting last night.

  • Restructured activity stream - you can now choose exactly who you want to see in your activity stream and what kinds of activity you want to see from them, as well as how much you want them to show up.
  • Subscriptions - you can subscribe to people you're not friends with, so you can follow thought leaders like on on Twitter without having to actually have a mutual friendship. This also makes your stream more interesting.

Blogging at Acquia

Sat, Sep 10, 2011 - 6:31pm -- Isaac Sukin

While I was at Acquia this summer I wrote a number of blog posts for Acquia. Check them out below.

Drupal Commons: Then and Now
A comparison of Acquia Commons at the beginning of the summer when I joined Acquia to the end of last summer when Commons was released and I wrote an analysis of it for Mediacurrent.
Status Streams in Commons
A sneak peak and overview of the status updates / activity stream features I developed that have become the centerpiece of Commons 2.0.
BrowserID: from announcement to Drupal module in under 24 hours
A discussion of how I wrote the BrowserID module for Drupal in under 24 hours since Mozilla announced the BrowserID initiative. This kind of effort can only happen in a large open-source community like Drupal's.
Commons 2.0 and Contributing to the Drupal Community
Throughout my time at Acquia, I made sure that I could contribute nearly everything I developed back to the Drupal community. As a result, any Drupal website in the world can now use status update and activity stream technology similar to the features that made Facebook so popular.

Engagement by Design: Principles of Building Engagement among Website Users

Sat, Sep 10, 2011 - 6:17pm -- Isaac Sukin

I've been building open-source social networking software for the past four years, which has given me the unique opportunity to be involved in a wide variety of projects to build social networks and related tools. My experience has revealed a number of insights into the way that user interaction patterns are designed on websites that encourage a website's engagement and adoption to the point that it can grow organically from almost nothing – or, conversely, that doom a website to silent irrelevance in a distant corner of the web.

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