TOTAL EXPERIENCE explores designing for experience: its theory, its practice, and how designing for experiences affects us socially and in our personal lives.


  • Bob Jacobson
  • Paula Thornton
  • BOB JACOBSON is fascinated by the experience of experience. A planner and technologist, Bob has a Ph.D. in Urban Planning & Design from UCLA. He's been a policy researcher, technology CEO, science writer, and consultant. As a Fulbright Scholar, he studied cellular telephony's impacts on transborder communities in the Nordic Arctic Circle. Bob edited Information Design (MIT Press 2000) and is now writing a book on the theory and practice of creating edifying, transformative experiences.
    ( Archive | Contact Bob )
    CORANTE PAULA THORNTON says, "Understanding human behavior (economics), optimizing interactions (design) and facilitating conversations (markets), are the means to achieve strategic differentiation. This is the focus of our discipline. It is not a 'nice to have'‚ and is not, like documentation once was, an afterthought. It is the means by which to start a strategic discussion and the means by which to drive a tactical initiative. All design should be evidence-based."
    ( Archive | Contact Paula ) >

    (Courtesy of Mark Vanderbeeken, Experientia SpA, Torino)

    Experience Design Websites
    Core 77 Website & Forum
    Business Week|Innovate
    InfoD: Understsanding by Design
    The Wayfinding Place
    Wayfinding Focus
    Design Addict
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    DUX 2007 Conference
    Digital Thread
    Enmeshed, Digital Arts & New Media
    Ludology (Game Playing Theory)
    Captology, Persuasive Computing
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    Raskin Center for Humane Interfaces
    timet (acoustical design)
    Steve Portigal, Ethnographer
    Jane McGonigal's Avant Game
    Ted Wells' living : simple
    PingMag (Japan)

    Experience Design Blogs
    Adam Greenfield's Speedbird
    Experience Designer Network (Brian Alger)
    SmartSpace: Annotated Environments (Scott Smith)
    Don Norman
    Doors of Perception (John Thackara)
    Karl Long's Experience Curve
    Work•Play•Experience (Adam Lawrence)
    The David Report (David Carlson)
    Design & Emotion (Marco van Hout)
    Museum 2.0 (Nina Simon)
    B J Fogg
    Lorenzo Brusci (acoustics)
    Cool Town Studios
    Steve Portigal
    Debbie Millman
    MIT Culture Convergence Consortium
    Luke Wroblewski, Functioning Form|Interface Design
    Adam Richardson
    Putting People First (Paul Vanderbeeken/Experientia
    Laws of Simplicity (John Maeda)
    Challis Hodge's UX Blog
    Anne Galloways's Purse Lips Square Jaw
    Bruno Giussani's Lunch over IP
    Jane McGonigal's Avant-Game The Future of Work

    Experience Design Podcasts
    Ted Wells' living : simple Podcast
    Design Matters Podcast, Debbie Millman
    Icon-o-Cast Podcast, Lunar Design

    Experience Design Firms and ED-Oriented Manufacturers
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    Hilary Cottam
    LRA Worldwide, Inc.
    BRC Imagination Arts
    Stone Mantel
    Experientia s.r.l
    Herman Miller
    Cooper Interactive Design
    Doblin Group
    Fit Associates
    Strategic Horizons LLC (Joe Pine & Jim Gilmore)
    Cheskin Fresh Perspectives

    Education and Advocacy
    Centre for Design Research, Northumbria University (UK)
    Center for Design Research, Stanford University
    International Institute of Information Design (IIID)
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    UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Design Research
    History of Consciousness, UCSC
    Design News Magazine
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    October 1, 2006

    Niche social networks powered by members' real-world passions are gaining advertising traction

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    After taking a dig at the huge, undifferentiated, and messy “social networks” like MySpace and Facebook, which are the press' and investors current darlings, I was gratified to read two recent articles about smaller, “niche” social networks and their new appeal to advertisers targeting specific audiences. These social networks complement their members' real world activities, things they feel passionately about; many of these networks came together organically, out of need to share knowledge and experiences. You read it here first.

    Librarything“Can Social Networks Sway Shoppers?”in Internet Retailer's most recent issue, describes several strategies for creating and advertising to niche social networks. The research isn't all in yet, but on first blush, the answer is: yes. And more efficiently than by running links indiscriminately on their giant counterparts. IR describes the experience of Abebooks, a seller of new, used, rare, and out-of-print books, which became a part-owner in LibraryThing, an organically grown website that helps book collectors to catalog and share their collections. According to Abebooks COO Boris Weitz,

    We did not first sit down and make a strategic decision to invest in social networking. Like many others we simply were watching this whole new space. But then LibraryThing came to our attention. We asked the network’s president to make a presentation to our senior management team, and that led to our investment.

    DogsterRed Herring, the popular investor-oriented technology magazine, in its October 2 print edition, features an article, “Niche Marketing,” which describes the growing profitability of sites such as Dogster and Catster (dog and cat owners), Boompa (car enthusiasts), Famster (family-oriented fare), Traineo (fitness and weight loss), Tot Jot (parenting), and YouthNoise (teen activists). Each has advertisers (direct and affiliate) or is in talks with advertisers. The article focuses on Dogster, with 250,000 members, which is gathering a portfolio of large, influential advertisers like Disney Entertainment. Says John Squire, analytical software firm Coremetrics' vice president of product strategy:

    Advertisers are beginning to see they can spend very little and still get a big return using niche networks. Last year, people wondered, 'Is [targeted advertising] a wave that is really going to come in? And now they see that it is, and the wave is getting bigger and bigger.

    (An online version of the article isn't available, but you can buy the entire archived edition of Red Herring, in digital format, for $3.99 from Zinio.)

    The niche social networks' individual advertising revenues are small, and they generally require advertisers to carefully integrate their ads with the niche networks' content, lest the ads drive off ardent members who don't see value in them. In the long term, however, the niche social networks probably will exceed the horizontal networks in their lasting appeal, member activity (including recommending and purchasing relevant goods and services), and their revenues.

    Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Commentary | Websites, Blogs, and Podcasts


    1. Craig on October 4, 2006 2:48 PM writes...

    Yes niche social networks make more sense. But not just niche by topics, but also by location. This is a very important piece and one that (shameless plug) has recognized.

    Permalink to Comment

    2. Qnahealth on February 23, 2009 12:16 PM writes...

    Niche social networks are a welcome addition to the web. Because they are more narrowly focused, they are better able to serve the needs of their community.

    The large generic social networks like Facebook and Myspace are great for keeping in touch with friends, but small social networks offer much more - people just like you who share your same passions.

    Qnahealth ( is a new social network for health related information and support. It's designed to be friendly and easy to use and is focused around users asking and answering questions and sharing their experiences and knowledge.

    We invite everyone to take a look as they explore their online health information options.

    We welcome bloggers!

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