Looking outside the world of advertising, I was reading Richard Florida’s Rise of the Creative Class. He brought up Ray Oldenburg’s concept of the “third place,” (brilliantly leveraged by Howard Schultz). As I was reading his definition of a “third place,” I thought of Facebook.
“Third places are neither home nor work, … but places like coffee shops, … where we find less formal acquaintances… Third places fill a void by providing a ready venue for acquaintance and human interaction.”
That last part sounds like a definition of Facebook to me. In fact, where some people take a break from a solitary work day at the computer and head down to the local Starbucks, other people log in to their favorite online hub for the same reason: human interaction.
In developing social net sites, maybe we should be thinking more like Starbucks. Think about the importance of the interior of a Starbucks. Starbucks places the experience above all else. The smell, the music, the fabric, and of course the taste of the coffee. In contrast, most soc net sites look as functional as a prison cafeteria. Or as cluttered as a pack rat’s front porch. Where is the love?
If you want people to feel welcome, to feel like it’s their “third place”, why not make it beautiful?