Thoughts on Social Software

Different needs and modes require different structures:

  • Chat rooms / IM – instant feedback, good for quick answers, no memory, though.
  • Email lists – good for current participation, arhives can be difficult to search, thread drift (or mobs) increase signal/noise
  • Forums – quick feedback, give-and-take discussion, scrolls off forum (perhaps into archives), searching haphazard
  • Blogs – Linking as feedback, organic structure, shallow, chronological structure good for *now*, weak for a thread through time
  • Wiki – web structure, deep links in and out, good searching, structure builds over time, poor feedback mechanisms (although email notifications and RSS can enhance)

I’ve started to discover that too many RSS subscriptions mean that I have to spend too much time reading and sorting, and not enough time left to blog, or even to read everything as it scrolls by. What’s needed is better filters to help screen interesting from not, perhaps a rating system to establish the esteem in which various posts are placed, so the news aggregator doesn’t just present a single stream of RSS feeds as they happen, but a richer, rated list, weighted either with my preferences or perhaps the Whuffie of Technorati or a similar service. What’s popular isn’t always of interest to me, but keeping up on what is popular might be.

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