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It is better
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John Sumser

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Social Software Tutorial

(November 12, 2003) - In its November '03 edition, Business 2.0 selected social software as "technology of the year". Social software, which is a databased version of various attempts at online community, is growing so rapidly that there's already talk of a 'bubble'. The phenomenon has evolved to the point that parodies are starting to flourish. Here are a few of the most widely discussed sites:

To get a deep perspective, Many2Many covers the evolving theory of social software while socialsoftware.weblogsinc.com presents a more business-y view.

Darwin Magazine provides a decent overview of the social software universe. According to columnist Stowe Boyd, Social Software shares three characteristics:

  1. Support for conversational interaction between individuals or groups — iincluding real time and "slow time" conversation, like instant messaging and collaborative teamwork spaces, respectively. This is also supported by the interplay always going on in blogs, where one blogger riffs on something another has said, and a third jumps in with more commentary, and the next thing you know, 40 others chime in, and someone suggests creating a groupblog to pursue the theme, whatever it may be. A big freewheeling discussion, with snippets of the interaction spread all over the place.
  2. Support for social feedback — which allows a group to rate the contributions of others, perhaps implicitly, leading to the creation of digital reputation. Digital reputation — also known as karma (from the Slashdot web community model) or whuffie (from Corey Doctorow's science fiction novel, Down and Out In the Magic Kingdom) — will turn out to be an area of great importance. Consider the lengths that eBay sellers go to to maintain a good reputation.
  3. Support for social networks — to explicitly create and manage a digital expression of people's personal relationships, and to help them build new relationships. These usually involve some sort of "six degrees of separation" system. One example is the Friend Of A Friend (FOAF) proposed standard, an XML-based approach to define your interests, phone number, e-mail, and the degree and kind of relationships you have with others, including creating explicit links to their FOAF specifications (which, of course, refer to others' FOAF definitions, and so on). The heady interest in Web-based services like Ryze, Friendster, LinkedIn and others, which are explicitly social (or business) networking systems, is being driven by a growing awareness of the fluidity and flexibility of networking through the Internet.
    From Darwin Magazine

Personal publishing and syndication (blogs) and social software are really just the current attempts to realize the underlying power of the Internet as a communications media. The results of these current endeavors will, very quickly, become a part of online recruiting.

John Sumser

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