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More on Hula

Nat emailed me this morning with a message that this “social software” term I have been advocating for use with the Hula announcement appears to have some grab.

Wikipedia defines “social software” quite well as:

Social software is a broad term used to describe Internet-based software that facilitates group interaction. Social software connects people together intellectually and makes it possible to share and evolve ideas. Social software is not bound just by what features the tool provides, but also by social conventions and etiquette on how to use it appropriately. Such software includes email, Usenet, IRC, instant messaging, blogs, wikis, NNTP, folksonomy, and virtual online communities.

In fact, I used that definition to state a case to Bryan Cardoza (my peer on the product management side) and Nat in some of our early meetings. After using the Wikipedia definition to convince them that “social software” was the right term for our vision of Hula, I told them that I had in fact re-written the Wikipedia definition the night before. (It’s all in the name of complete, albeit ex post facto, intellectual honesty.)

Looking smart for lifting someone else’s term is always fun. Giving appropriate credit where due, I picked up the term from Christopher Allen’s blog called Life With Alacrity, in which had an entry called “Tracing the Evolution of Social Software.”

Finally, for some in-depth insight into the early thinking behind Hula complete with strong language rarely seen in my blog and an allusion to Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, I recommend you read this blog entry from Nat’s pre-Hula confidant Jamie Zawinski. That is in fact what Nat sent me in his email, stating that perhaps I actually do know what I’m talking about, Wikipedia aside.

One Response

  1. (hey ted, i have a “professional” blog at http://todd.dailey.info now, FYI.)

    I think we did a lot of things right with Novell Portal Services 1.0 in this regard, especially with creating a (somewhat) sticky community for corporate workgroups. JWZ’s point is good, and I think the corporate equivalent to “how will this get me laid” is “how will this get me a raise/promotion/home-by-5:30”?

    I remember when all of the Novell alpha-geeks were using ICQ, it swept through the company and suddenly a whole new way of communicating was available. Now, anyone could see whether a remote co-worker was at their computer, could chat with them, could do a group chat (during a meeting, for example, and critique the speaker🙂 ), and could log the chat to review later. Revolutionary! I remember that I was at a high-level meeting with Chris Stone and the CIO of P&G, and Chris pooh-poohed instant messaging.

    To me, these are the interesting things that Hula could do:
    – Lots of community functions – learn from Livejournal. I should be able to friend people, have them friend me, and give people access to multiple layers of my identity based on that. (My calendar, my wiki, my AIM, my home phone.) Reasonable defaults should be there for ease-of-use, but the user should be able to customize it too. Have you seen myspace? The kids out there in internet-land love it. Deviantart is another one to learn from.
    – I should be able to subscribe to notification for anything. Again, learn from livejournal. I HATE the face that I can’t get an update when you reply to my message here on blogger. Livejournal can do that. RSS is OK too, but it had better be really easy. A lot of people just want e-mail notification too.
    – An integrated secure Wiki for every user. Maybe a wiki roll-up so that a friends group could have a wiki that is munged together.
    – Shared bookmarking like del.icio.us. I have to say the del.icio.us is the most interesting technology I’ve seen in the last year.
    – RSS feeds for everything. Wiki, friends list, e-mail, group discussions. EVERYTHING.
    – Good web calendaring, including free/busy search, proxy (so the secretary can schedule for the boss), and multi-user calendar view. These are baseline functions to play in the enteprise. Without those three, the enterprise will not use the calendar. Period.
    – Jamie’s evite cloning idea is awesome.
    – GREAT search.
    – I’d love to see a nice portal-ish home page to the thing, something that could be customized. Drupal is turning into a really nice open source portal. Something like that.

    For now, step one is getting Hula out with good web calendaring. Is it there yet on free/busy search, proxy, and multi-user view? If so, I think it can have a lot of business success right away. The number one question I get from customers is “What’s a good replacement for outlook/exchange?”

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