Social Software Studies

“Social software” is a term I have heard bantered about when talking about blogs and wikis, and I find the term attractive. I am convinced that software that really enhances our abilities to find birds-of-a-feather, create an online community, and find richer ways to interact easily is a category that is up-and-coming. And “social software” seems to be a good name for the category to put it all under.

However, SS may have already suffered too much diliution, excessive GoogleWashing, to effectively communicate any real concepts. Social Software isn’t new. If we try to break down SS to a simple core definition, we’ll find silly ideas like “the ability of one person to communicate with others,” which pretty much describes most of civilization, doesn’t it? One of my first experiences with SS was joining online conferences in the Dartmouth College Time-Sharing System (DTSS) back in the mid-70s, where we could type JOIN XYZ from a terminal and be able to communicate with others in a chat room and whisper privately to other individuals. (What, did you think AOL invented this?) That was “Social Software.”

Knowing that I’m rarely the first to come up with any idea, I thought I’d search Google for ideas. There’s already been a “Social Software Summit,” an http://www.social-software.com, and a commerial venture, notes from an iSociety presentation by Clay Shirky, …

And “Print Your Own Wedding Invitations and Social Invitations,” described as “Social Software for Microsoft¨ Windows tm 95, 98SE, ME, NT,…” oh, dear. Is this “GoodleWashing” or more like Google-dilution? One man’s treasure…

Does a meme and its catchy phrase always go separate ways? So the Para-DIG-m and the “step outside the box” are bad jokes, but the concepts remain valid? How can we continue to communicate if our words are constantly diluted?

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.