Bringing Facebook Home

One of the problems with social networking sites like Facebook is you've got to check them all the time. Things like Facebook's recent skin for the iPhone are just band-aids--increasing the number of touch points, but not changing them in fundamental ways.

One of the problems with social networking sites like Facebook is you've got to check them all the time. Things like Facebook's recent skin for the iPhone are just band-aids--increasing the number of touch points, but not changing them in fundamental ways.

Of course, you can set up mobile features to push updates to your phone, but that's just one more interruption as far as I'm concerned. I believe that as social networking becomes more important in how we live out lives, we're going to want ways of interacting with them that don't involve browsers and keyboards.

Right now, for example, I'm in my home office and I can hear my wife talking with a friend on the phone in the next room. I can't tell what she's saying, but I'm getting a little bit of information--just enough to let me know she's nearby and happy. I'd like to be able to get similar impressions about my friends on the 'Net. Are they busy, traveling near me, happy, sad, etc.?

The Teleshadow system

This is just one reason I found the Teleshadow system created by Shunpei Yasuda interesting. Teleshadow, based on the idea of traditional Japanese shoji screens projects a shawdow of what your friends are doing now, rather than full-on video, so that you get more information about your friend's status than an infrequently updated status line or tweet, but less than a video feed would give. The idea is to strike the right balance between privacy and transparency.

Ambient Orbs are a similar idea, but geared toward ambient information like weather and stock prices. Certainly aggregated data about my Facebook friends is similarly ambient. How much and what kinds of information could something like an Orb transmit to me about my social network? Quite a bit I'm betting.

Teleshadow and the Orb aren't integrated with Facebook or any other social networking site as far as I know--but, they certainly could be.