Vlog (Mark) - Socialbomb, a real-world reputation game.

Today on Boing Boing tv, a vlog from Mark about Socialbomb, a real-world tech game that explores social circles and ways to measure interpersonal reputation.

The current version is designed to accommodate 30 players. Each player is awarded points for being near players with higher reputations, and penalized for being near players with lower reputations. Bonuses and penalties are applied according to overall social promiscuity and status. The player with the worst reputation score is the 'Socialbomb.' Their score will have the most negative impact on a social circle.

Shot on location at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference.

About Xeni Jardin

Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: xeni@boingboing.net.
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18 Responses to Vlog (Mark) - Socialbomb, a real-world reputation game.

  1. dagfooyo says:

    Someone should hack these so they calculate Whuffie.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I guess I won’t be the first to say it – it does look a little bit like you have a real bomb tied around your neck, which is a bit dumb…nice idea though.

  3. cherry shiva says:

    oh great – more reinforcement for social hierarchy. more reasons for losers to feel bad about themselves. more reasons for winners to feel (artificially) superior. no thanks.

  4. Antinous says:

    I feel like I should get royalties for piloting this in junior high school.

  5. razordaze says:

    I’d be interested to see this proliferate through an existing social forum by initially reinforcing the group norms, and then see how quickly you could subvert them by tweaking the reputation algorithm.

  6. Anaphiel says:

    Yeah, you should definitely avoid Logan Airport (or pretty much anywhere else in Boston for that matter) when wearing that thing.

  7. Eddie Codel says:

    Socialbomb is a fun project that came out of NYU’s ITP program, where Scott and Michael are enrolled. I also caught up with them as part of our (GETV) coverage of ETech.


  8. Anonymous says:

    Anyone seen wearing one in public will find out exactly where they rank.

  9. potatocube says:

    Crap, it’s high school all over again. Do you also have a girl that I can fall madly in love with who doesn’t even know I am alive and somehow make it kick my ass on a daily basis.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Eh… This seems to me to support social stigmatization a little too much, but then I thought about it and came up with an idea- what if there was some reward system for being with lower-scored people?
    Then again, that would make it less true to life…

  11. License Farm says:

    I think this would go over a lot better if players got points for seeking out and improving the scores of the less social adept. Make it more constructive and less alpha-dominant.

  12. tp1024 says:

    @ #10:

    Well, that depends on what the project is supposed to do.

    If its aim is to assign numerical values to theoretical social models in a real life world, I’d criticise some aspects of it (as in the economy, social behaviour is not a zero sum game) and note that, as in quantum mechanics, the measurement influences the behaviour of the subjects. So the score will reflect the model more than the underlying natural human behaviour of a given society.

    The other possibility is, that the project is meant to use numerical values to influence social behaviour. In this case the project is apt, although the currently used model is prone to lead to a segregation of society. “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” would become a sad reality, although with fewer possibilities to raise your score. A different model could probably lead to much greater social cohesion.

    Some rules might be:

    * getting more points for being with more people, with diminishing returns
    * increasing scores for being together with the same person for a longer time – up to a point
    * score decay proportional to current score (like negative daily interest rates)
    * score deductions for certain behaviours by social peers, again with diminishing returns


  13. pspinrad says:

    Isn’t this how sheep survive? They cluster together, and the ones who can jockey their way into the center of the flock are the most protected from wolves.

    Meanwhile the “fringe sheep,” who pay more attention to the outside world than to flock hierarchy, are the ones who first see new dangers and opportunities. Their job is to make noise about it until more sheep share their view, and if enough agree, the flock moves appropriately.

  14. zikzak says:

    Perhaps a more “feel good” variation of this game that would satisfy all the still-bitter geeks who were outcasts in high school would be to have multiple independent ratings, with abstract labels like colors or letters.

    So you could have like 7000 blue points, 400 green, 15 red, etc. They’d all simultaneously be exchanged when people associated. This implies the kindergarten lesson that “nobody’s good at everything, everyone’s good at something”, but also suggests a more open-ended game: Do you want to raise all your scores as high as possible? Do you want to focus entirely on one or two at the expense of the others? Would “color cliques” develop, all of people who value the same color score, creating a sub-competition around just that color?

    This seems to me to reflect the way actual social scenes work better.

  15. Tenn says:

    Facebook has something called Circle of Trust.

    I’m slightly disturbed by the fact that I’m 2nd in the Circle of Trust out of so many people. It is not how many people trust you, however. It is how many people trust people who trust you.

    So if you sought world domination, how many people would support your efforts because people who trust you did. It’s rather neat.

    Still terrifying that I’m at 2 though.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I would simply find some way to undermine the game, possibly disabling the devices permanently with glee, the same way I refuse to play games with anyone who is going to waste my time by being insincere and dishonest. The mere fact that a person thinks and acts in this way in their social life is their own sad problem, and people get caught up in that sort of ignorance very, very easily. They know better, but when groupthink and peer pressure set in, they enjoy the little thrills of petty intrigue, gossip, and a lower-order form of cult behavior. Or, perhaps one root of it. It is pathological, inherent to politics, and integral to fascism. It is always a human social sickness. Your machine is to reality as criticism is to creativity. Toilet paper is a more noble invention. I love that I know so many intelligent and kind people who don’t think in terms of needless social standing and peer opinion. I will never be popular among the deluded ignorant with vile social interests. They aren’t the majority, anyway. There is no majority or elite that can do away with love. People like me and my own are always waiting for you to drop your act so that you can know us, and we can know you, in peace and without demands, without any interest or attention given to reputation or judgment. No one is perfect, and too many people forget that others in our society live in a different and more dignified way. To be clear, I mean not that I can claim to be dignified beyond others, but that I treat others with respect, as though they have that dignity. In this way, others are put at ease, and I make it obvious there is no threat or scrutiny in knowing me. Fight your own hostility instead of fighting others in lowbrow social competition.

  17. kirby says:

    That’s disgusting. How shallow can you get?

  18. kirby says:

    [Sorry, hit ‘enter’ prematurely. Anyways…]

    Does using technology mean popularity contests are now ‘cool’?

    @Zikzak: Nice condescension. I wish I lived in your world. Apparently some people still need to make themselves feel better by pretending to be superior and putting others down long past high school.

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