People who read my blog (Hello to all six of you!) seem to have taken an interest (a la Geisler’s “taken an interest” dialog in Barton Fink, which fills my obscure reference quota for the day) in this term “social software.” It seems to have a kind of descriptive grab that might be able to thwart the inevitable corporate co-option that befalls so many once-useful terms. (Yes, I implicate wonks like myself as dangerous to all things meaningful; marketing mis-use and overuse has ground many-a-useful concept into pulpy buzz-word market-speak.)
I mentioned in a previous post that I re-wrote the Wikipedia definition for Social Software. (Wikipedia now states, “This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of article quality.” No small amount of umbrage I take from that!)
Now I’ll state that while I have used the term, and pushed the term inside Novell during our planning for the Hula Project announcement, I should confess that I have yet to complete a lot of research on many of the technologies that the Wikipedia definition cites as examples. (I think I may have some command of email and instant messages, and I’m getting there with blogs…)
The “AfterNet” –this post 1990’s Interenet age we’re living in–has an emergent, underground social fabric that is coming out in a variety of media. Some of these are definitely “social” in how they enable collaboration (wikis, IM’s and such), but some are also social in how they create new methods for expression. Scott Lemon, who has long held a hypothesis that the Net is the glue that is actually transforming humanity into a new type of organism, has been tracking some media collage sites lately. (And somehow one of these actually links back to the same Jamie Zawinksi that helped guide Nat’s thinking away from the “groupware albatross”.) These are arguably social, but they are not necessarily collaborative.
Now that I have freely rambled and associated a mish-mash of ideas with little direction and too many parentheticals, I have reached an Abe Simpson impass. Did I have a point launching into this?