Below you will find a series of social objects – items that were created by users for themselves, and for their friends. While they may not look like a hell of a lot they are conversation starters. For some users, these images are home – either a reflection of the home they have, or a dream of the home they hope to one day have.
It is interesting watching our users build and outfit these objects – since each is unique to a specific user. The look of the avatar, the color of the carpet. The texture of the walls and the furnishings selected. Each of them are selected by the user, and each user is attempting to show some of their humanity through their choices.
Prior to launching Mar7abashabab.com I had not really considered in great detail that I would be helping to build an online environment that I couldn’t fully understand.
So when I view these images I see more than a small graphic depicting a cyber-room. I try to think about the person that built the room – the creator of the social object – and I wonder what message they are trying to send, and wonder if they have crafted a good message. I wonder what was left out of their images because we didn’t supply them the tools to include it. I wonder how we could let them tell a better story through a small image. We have a lot of ideas along these lines (think of things like putting a plasma TV in one of these rooms and have it auto-magically play a favorite YouTube video of the “home owner” when the room is viewed).
As a conversation starter these “mini-rooms” and the associated avatars are very interesting “social artifacts” – they say a lot about the individuals who create them, as well as a culture that is struggling with either melding together online/offline lives, or trying desperately to keep them separate (depending on individual preference).
Because this venture is in Arabic, and I do not read or write Arabic, I’m often left to guess about things that I would probably understand much better if I had full advantage of understanding the language.
But in many ways I like not knowing what the text says – when you can’t understand the text the imagery takes on a new importance.
I’ve always enjoyed books more than movies made from books because books let me use my imagination – and when I view these user creations without the benefit of understanding the language around them, I am left to use my imagination. And since my imagination is often fairly colorful I can imagine untold things as I gaze through the hundreds of creations our users have done in just a short amount of time (just over a week).
Over time we will add more and more tools to help users build content, and more and more ways for users to share content. And more and more ways for them, and me, to use our imaginations!