Photo Directories: A Tool for Organizing Sociability in Neighborhoods and Organizations

Paul Resnick and Vishant Shah

Working paper version of Feb. 13, 2003 (PDF format)


Despite strong evidence of the value of social capital, very little is known about how to design for social capital accumulation. One interesting opportunity is to support what we call organized sociability. Churches have long made use of photo directories to create a sense of community. We examine how photo directories can draw on and produce organized sociability in other settings. The "Who's That?" Project has been creating photo directories for neighborhood blocks and other groups for the last three years. Evidence from three small-scale experiments suggests positive impacts on organized sociability, with clearer evidence of impacts on directory makers than on participants.