Saturday, January 4, 2003

On social software

Matt Jones inches us closer to a definition of social software that goes beyond notions of collaboration:

"At the moment, it seems to me, the discussion of social software is massively technocentric, seat'n'screen-centric, expert-user-centric; possibly as an innocent result of those in it's vanguard. For a real great leap forward IMHO, we need to cross the streams of social software and smartmobs with adaptive design. Expand and map the discussion from: software-that's-better-cos-there's-people-there to places-that-are better-for-people-cos-there's-software-there."

Good points, and I certainly agree that Fabio Sergio's Connectedland article is fertile ground for exploration.

Now - please forgive my frustration (or is it arrogance?) but why are techies and designers trying to develop notions of social software without corresponding notions of the social? One of the easiest ways to get discussion to move beyond technocentrism is to ask questions of social researchers. And I'm not just talking about myself here.

Anthropologists and sociologists are able to contribute much more than user-studies if others are willing to ask and listen. Really.

UPDATE: Matt's post has received lots of comments, well worth a read. But can someone please tell me where the notion that sociality requires three or more (not just two) people comes from? And I'd like to see the computer/application itself included as one of the social agents/actors in these equations... (although I would suggest that mathematical equations are not the best place to start when wrapping one's head around sociality.)


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