Bookmark: "Social topiary"

Sebastian Greger


Social topiary (via

Cennydd Bowles suggests the term “social topiary” to describe the phenomenon/experience of more input (via digital media) than a person can handle.

Not so much interested in theorizing about the why, he poses some questions about the social consequences of people’s coping strategies:

An elegant social dance is being performed across the web, as people realise they’ve bitten off more than they can chew, and decide to cut back. The resultant social politics are fascinating. Is unfollowing someone on Twitter a meaningful act of disapproval? At what level of ‘busy’ is it ok to ignore a friend’s forwarded email? Can a friendship survive a Facebook defriending?

An “unfollow”, even from a close friend, in the digital sphere is not necessarily a social cue – somebody might simply have hit their threshold of what is healthy or manageable to them and reduce their input volume.

I'm Sebastian, Sociologist and Interaction Designer. This journal is mostly about bringing toge­ther social science and design for inclusive, privacy-focused, and sustainable "human-first" digital strategies. I also tend to a "digital garden" with carefully curated resources.

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