The shape of digital interactions

In the ever expanding list of web related terms, in recent years we've added IxD, or Interaction Design. Wikipedia defines it as "the practice of designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services". This is precisely not what I'm going to talk about. Not directly at least because I do think IxD plays a role in what I'm about to discuss.

When I say digital interaction I'm referring to human interactions happening on a digital platform. It's a human to human connection, not a human to computer one. The majority of these interactions don't happen in a vacuum though and in most cases, there's a middleman.

You see, sites, for the most part, are not designed to encourage and facilitate conversations. Online conversations are asynchronous, by definition. That is unless we’re talking about Zoom and co but that’s a different story.

Most websites want you to engage with content—which is a synonym of wasting your time—and they don’t really care about the quality of your time spent there. Quantity matters. Quality, not so much. And as a result we get these platforms that are endless streams of user generated content with barely any real interactions.

Instagram comments are for the most part an endless stream of one liners. YouTube and Twitch live chats are updated so fast that you can’t even see what’s happening. Twitter. Comment sections in the majority of websites are a collection of statements.

We get to say things but we rarely engage in real conversations. But there’s still a place for conversations to happen: personal websites and emails.

If you have something you want to say, something you want to share, I encourage you to do it on a personal website. Don’t do it on a social platform, don’t do it behind some odd paywall. Own your content, shape the container in a way that fits the content you want to share.

And then let people get in touch with you. You’ll be surprised by the amount of kind people there are out there. Emails also allow for slower and calmer discussions. And that’s something we need more of in today’s web.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: the best outcome of this blog has been the countless interactions I had with people from all over the world writing in to share something with me, in private. There’s not a single one I have not enjoyed and I’m always grateful when someone writes in.

Lazily tapping a like button is easy. Taking time to compose an email to some random stranger requires a lot more effort. But I assure you that one will lead to something while the other will lead to nothing.

Oh and by the way, I said you should have a personal website but I can already hear you say “Manu I don’t know how to make a website”. That’s ok. If you want a site and you don’t know where to start get in touch and I can help you out.