Q: You have done an extensive research on template culture. Would you care to explain our readers, in a few words, what was your process and the main conclusions you derived?
A: It started with an observation while browsing the web: everything looks the same! Bootstrap, Tumblr themes, Wordpress templates, ‘insert your content here’. When did web design (slash life) turn into such a ‘fill in the blanks’ experience?
Our conclusion is ambiguous: templates make creating quick and easy. But to express individuality users should consider digging deeper than simply customizing what is already there.
Q: Having that research in mind, how would you reflect on the new Facebook Reactions?
A: Facebook is a great example of online template culture. The platform tells you where to place what kind of information (“What’s on your mind?” or “Add a high school”), it requires very little effort to share, link or publish content and it offers great opportunity to compare yourself to other users. Facebook is well known for its like button: "Marlon Harder and 24 others like this post". Its users found it limiting: why not also have a dislike button? Ignoring this small request, Facebook gave them love, haha, wow, sad, yay and angry instead.
We think these new Reactions, and how they came about, turn people in even more tag-wordy, robotic versions of themselves. It might feel like they have more to say, but the only ones profiting from this are Facebook and their advertisers.
Template's website: https://template-studio.nl/