The KSeeker

In Search of Knowledge…

Signs of Life

Posted by Girish Krishnan on August 22, 2008

The concept of Signs of Life is core to any commercial venture in the retail space which is pitted against lots of competition. Imagine the following scenarios

  • Case 1 – Its a cold evening – You are hungry and are searching for a place to eat when you see two restaurants – one empty and the second one having a lot of people. You don’t have any information about the quality of food in any of the cases.
  • Case 2 – Same situation – You see two restaurants – one with a glass window showing a lot of people inside having piping hot food, another one which is completely closed for view.

In a world of asymmetric information, social influence could be a key signaling factor for people to make their decision. In the above cases when people are searching for a place to eat, there could be an implicit assumption that since many people are already eating in a restaurant it should be better than the other one. People tend to be risk averse in a lot of situations, and believe in taking decisions with some confidence as opposed to ones with none at all.

Similar cases could be drawn for Apparel stores, Fast food joints, Cafe shops, Gaming centers, and even for social networking sites. When websites leverage signs of life well,people gravitate towards them as opposed to the ones which just add to chaos in the world already filled with choice. Even in the case of human beings, a happy, cheerful talkative person shows better signs of life and will have increased interactions with the rest of the world than a reserved person.

To read more on social design and signs of life –


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