Is Social Software For Real?

from the good-question dept

I’ve been hearing more and more talk about the concept of “social software”, and it seems to be the “in thing” to talk about among the geek crowd. Here’s a good article at the Guardian discussing whether or not there’s any “there” to social software or if it’s just a lot of hype. It mostly summarizes Clay Shirky’s talk at the recent O’Reilly Emerging Tech Conference, talking about the different forms of communication. The idea is that most people are used to one-to-one (phone, email) or one-to-many (TV, radio, publishing) forms of communication. However, the web is now seeing the growth of many-to-many communication – and it doesn’t necessarily have an analog that we can look back on in a pre-internet world. Those who are against the hype say that, first of all, this is nothing new. People have been doing many-to-many communication for years using messageboards and newsgroups. It’s just now that there are different types of technology for it – and a new generation of geeks who think they came up with the idea. As with most “hyped” areas, I think both sides are correct. There are some elements of “social software” that are clearly overhyped. There are going to be some “social software” products that are going to fail miserably, and people will point to them as the definitive example of why “social software” doesn’t work. They’ll be wrong of course. In the end, successful social software will continue to be built, and used, on a regular basis – mostly by people who have no idea that they’re using “social software” at all.

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