Social Software lets people rendezvous, connect or collaborate by use of a computer network. It results in the creation of shared, interactive spaces. The term came into more common usage in 2002, largely credited to Wikipedia:Clay Shirky who organized a "Social Software Summit" in November of that year. Shirky has defined social software as "software that supports group interaction". [1]. The term also arose in the late nineties to describe software emerging out of alliances between programmers and social groups whose particular kinds of cultural intelligence are locked out of mainstream software. In this understanding of the term, the social is understood to also have a political and aesthetic sense, not simply acting as a kind of glue for a collection of normatively understood 'agents' whose inter-relations are formatted by software. What both positions share is an understanding that particular design decisions and the grammar of interactions made possible by each piece of software is socialy significant. Some more definitions are available from the External links section below.

The more specific term collaborative software applies to cooperative work systems.

Examples Edit

Instant Messaging Edit

An instant messaging application or client allows one to communicate with another person over a network in relative privacy. Popular clients include Wikipedia:Skype, Wikipedia:ICQ, Wikipedia:Yahoo Messenger, Wikipedia:MSN Messenger and Wikipedia:AOL Instant Messenger. One can add friends to a contact list or buddy list, by entering their email address or messenger ID. If they are online, their name will be listed as available for chat. Clicking on their name will activate a chat window with space to write to the other person, as well as read their reply.

Internet Relay Chat Edit

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) clients allow users to join chat rooms and communicate with many people at once, publicly. Users may join a pre-existing chat room or create a chat room about any topic. Once inside, you may type messages that everyone else in the room can read, as well as respond to messages from others. Often there is a steady stream of people entering and leaving. Whether you are in another person's chat room, or one you've created yourself, you are generally free to invite others online to join you. When others accept the invitation, they are taken to the room containing the other members, similar to the way conference calling works with phones. This facilitates both one-to-one and many-to-many interaction.

Internet forums Edit

Originally modeled after the real-world paradigm of electronic bulletin boards of the world before Internet was born, internet forums allow users to post a "topic" for others to review. Other users can view the topic and post their own comments in a linear fashion, one after the other. Some forums are public, and some allow instant publication, with little or no censorship.

Topic are usually displayed according to the time of the last post. Therefore, more recent posts, or "threads," and the ones with the most recent replies appear at the top of the list. Forums can contain many different categories in a hierarchy according to topics and subtopics. Other features include the ability to post images or files and the ability to quote another user's post with special formatting in your post. Forums often grow in popularity until they can boast several thousand members posting replies to tens of thousands of topics continuously. Examples include,, World Forum.

There are various standards and claimants for the marketleaders of each software category. Various add-ons, including translation and spelling correction software, may sometimes be available, depending on the expertise of the operators of the bulletin board. In some industry areas, the BB has its own commercially successful achievements: free and paid hardcopy magazines, professional and amateurish sites. For example OCAU.COM uses commercial software, with commercial advertisers, linked openly to similar amateur and commercial sites in the microcomputer industry.

Blogs or Weblogs Edit

Blogs, short for web logs, are like online journals for a particular person. The owner will post a message periodically allowing others to comment. Topics often include the owner's daily life or views on politics or a particular subject important to them. There are many websites that address the history of blogs, like The History of Weblogs and weblogs: a history and perspective.

Blogs mean many things to different people: ranging from "online journal" to "easily updated personal website." While these definitions are not wrong, they fail to capture the power of blogs as social software. Beyond being a simple homepage, or an online diary, some blogs also allow comments on the entries thereby a discussion forum, have blogrolls, i.e., links to other blogs which the owner reads or admires, and indicate their social relationship to those other bloggers using the Wikipedia:XFN social relationship standard. Wikipedia:Pingback and trackback allow one blog to notify another blog, creating an inter-blog conversation. In summary, blogs engage readers and build a virtual community around a particular person or interest. Examples include Wikipedia:Slashdot, Wikipedia:LiveJournal, BlogSpot

Wikis Edit

Examples include the original Wikipedia:Portland Pattern Repository wiki, Wikipedia:MeatballWiki, CommunityWiki, Wikipedia:Main_Page, Wiktionary and Wikisource.

Social network services Edit

Social_network_services allow people to come together online around shared interests or causes. For example, some sites provide dating services where users will post their personal profiles, location, age, gender, etc, and are able to search for a partner. Examples include Wikipedia:ArtBoom, Wikipedia:Orkut, Wikipedia:Friendster, Wikipedia:Linkedin, Wikipedia:Openbc or Wikipedia:Tribe Networks.

See also: Category:Social networking

Social network search engines Edit

Social network search engines allow people to find each other according to their Wikipedia:XFN social relationships. Wikipedia:XHTML Friends Network allows people to share their relationships on their own sites, thus forming a decentralized/distributed online social network, in contrast to centralized social network services listed in the previous section.

Social guides Edit

Recommending places to visit in the real world such as coffee shops, restaurants, and wifi hotspots, etc. Some popular applications are CafeSpot, Tagzania and WikiTravel.

Social bookmarking Edit

Some sites allow users to post their list of bookmarks—or favorite websites—for others to search and view. The object is for people to meet others with whom they share a common interest. Examples include, furl, RawSugar,, GoKoDo Social Bookmarking, Wikipedia:BlinkList Connectedy and Connotea.

Social CitationsEdit

Much like social bookmarking, this software, aimed towards academics, allows the user to post a citation for an article found on the internet. These citations can be organized into predefined categories or a new category defined by the user. This will allow academics researching or interested in similar areas to connect and share resources. Examples of this type of software are CiteUlike and [ Connotea].

Social Shopping Applications Edit

These applications take advantage of the group to provide recommendations, and product reviews. Example SwagRoll

Peer-to-peer social networks Edit

A hybrid of web-based social networks, instant messaging technologies and peer-to-peer connectivity and filesharing, peer-to-peer Social Networks generally allow users to share blogs, files (especially photographs) and instant messages. Some examples are imeem, QNext and Grouper. Also, Wikipedia:Groove and WiredReach have similar functionality, but with more of a work-based, collaboration bias.

Collaborative real-time editing Edit

Simultaneous editing of a text or media file by different participants on a network. Wikipedia:SubEthaEdit is the most famous example of this.

Wikipedia:Virtual presence Edit

Virtual presence means being present at virtual locations. In particular, the term Wikipedia:virtual presence denotes presence on Wikipedia:World Wide Web locations pages and Web sites which are identified by URLs. People who are browsing a Web site are considered to be virtually present at Web locations. Virtual presence is a social software in the sense that people meet on the Web by chance or intentionally. The ubiqitous (in the Web space) communication transfers behavior patterns from the real world and Wikipedia:Virtual worlds to the Web.

Wikipedia:Virtual worlds and Massively-Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs)Edit

Virtual Worlds and Massively-Multiplayer Online Games are places where it is possible to meet and interact with other people in a virtual world - which looks somewhat like reality. Some popular commercial worlds are Wikipedia:Second Life, Wikipedia:ActiveWorlds, Wikipedia:The Sims Online and Wikipedia:There. Some commercial MMOGs (or, more accurately, Wikipedia:MMORPGs) include Wikipedia:Everquest and Wikipedia:World_of_Warcraft. Non-commercial, open-source and experimental examples include Wikipedia:Planeshift, Wikipedia:Croquet_project, Wikipedia:VOS and Wikipedia:Solipsis.

Criticism Edit

Social interaction deficits are common amongst deprived and elderly. Computers and software are often not usable for them. The disappearing computer is may a concept where personal devices (like blood pressure gauges, fixed line telefones etc.) allow to network with relatives or electronic emergency services.

See also Edit

External links Edit

Free software Edit

Commercial software Edit

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