The book “Social Navigation of Information Space”, outcome of a HCI workshop, gather contributions about the very topic of socialnav. I’ve only read the introduction but it appears to be a relevant reference.
SocialNav starts from the idea that “when people need information, they will often turn to other people rather than use more formalised information artefacts” (e.g. asking people for advice when lost in a city instead of studying a map). Studies on how people followed crowd are also an influence (Follow the leader to bagage claim )
The concept of SocialNav was introduced by Dourish and Chalmers in 1994 : “navigation towards a cluster of people or navigation because other people have looked at something”. In computer system, this could refer to a “recommender system”.
Members of a team (or a community of practice like urban planners, geologists, teens hanging ou in a city… smart mobs in fact 🙂 navigates through information spaces that should be considered as social settings.
SocialNav could be applied to lots of areas from hypertext (selected path through the hyperlinks) to ubiquitous computing. Using social navigation with wearbale stuff (mobile devices, see-through glasses…) is a also a new paradigm in the sense that there could be an overlay between the real world and the augmented world. This overlay could hence trigger new social behavior.