Social objects are objects around which social networks form. The concept was put forward by Jyri Engeström in 2005 as part of the explanation of why some social networks succeed and some fail. Engeström maintained that "Social network theory fails to recognise such real-world dynamics because its notion of sociality is limited to just people." Instead, he proposed what he called "object centered sociality," citing the work of the sociologist Karin Knorr-Cetina. For example, Engeström maintained that much of the success of the popular photo-sharing site Flickr was due to the fact that photographs serve as social objects around which conversations of social networks form.
The concept was popularized by Hugh MacLeod, cartoonist and social observer in 2007.
- Engeström, Jyri. "Why some social network services work and others don’t — Or: the case for object-centered sociality". Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- MacLeod, Hugh. "Social Objects for Beginners". Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- Engeström, Jyri. Social Objects: What Beach balls and Potatoes Can Teach Us about Social Networks. Posted May 3, 2008.