Social Software

Jon Udell writes:

Computer-mediated communication is the lifeblood of social software. When we use e-mail, instant messaging, Weblogs, and wikis, were potentially free to interact with anyone, anywhere, anytime. But theres a trade off. Our social protocols map poorly to TCP/IP. Whether the goal is to help individuals create and share knowledge or to enrich the relationship networks that support sales, collaboration, and recruiting, the various kinds of enterprise social software aim to restore some of the context thats lost when we move our interaction into the virtual realm.

Whatever the mode of communication, the primary goal, says Adam Hertz, VP of technology strategy at Ofoto (and a Socialtext user), is to create group memory. Chris Nuzum, CTO and co-founder of Traction Software (, echoes that theme. Traction describes its offering as enterprise Weblog software, but Nuzum says that a typical Traction project is more of a group effort than an individual journal. As such, a lot of the social interaction that would otherwise occur in e-mail moves into the comments and discussions attached to the project.

Building group memory and team awareness has always been the goal of KM (knowledge management), of course. But most people, Nuzum says, have never had the benefit of mechanized institutional memory. One reason for this limitation is that KM systems have tended to ask people to dump knowledge into databases without regard for social incentives, habits, or consequences. These are central concerns for social software in all its various forms.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.