Social Software (and Web 2.0)

Social Software (and Web 2.0)

Jürgen Dorn (Vienna University of Technology, Austria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-014-1.ch178
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Abstract

Social software is a class of information systems supporting the establishment and management of online communities for people in performing certain tasks. One of the first application types were bulletin boards. Social software may provide different services for community members such as finding members with similar interests, finding information on interesting subjects, discussing common problems, or simply the storing of private or publicly-accessible documents. Another similar term, collaborative software, applies to cooperative work systems, and is applied to software that supports working functions often restricted to private networks. Web 2.0 is a term coined only recently, and with this concept promoters try to focus on the change of use of the Internet. While Web 1.0 was a medium where few users published information in Web sites and many users read and surfed through these publications, in Web 2.0 many users also publish their opinions, information, and documents somewhere in the Internet. By motivating large communities for submissions and by structuring the content, the body of the aggregated information achieves considerable worth. A good example for such a community project is Wikipedia, where thousands of contributors deliver millions of articles, forming an encyclopaedia that is worth millions of dollars.
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Introduction

Social software is a class of information systems supporting the establishment and management of online communities for people in performing certain tasks. One of the first application types were bulletin boards. Social software may provide different services for community members such as finding members with similar interests, finding information on interesting subjects, discussing common problems, or simply the storing of private or publicly-accessible documents. Another similar term, collaborative software, applies to cooperative work systems, and is applied to software that supports working functions often restricted to private networks. Web 2.0 is a term coined only recently, and with this concept promoters try to focus on the change of use of the Internet. While Web 1.0 was a medium where few users published information in Web sites and many users read and surfed through these publications, in Web 2.0 many users also publish their opinions, information, and documents somewhere in the Internet. By motivating large communities for submissions and by structuring the content, the body of the aggregated information achieves considerable worth. A good example for such a community project is Wikipedia, where thousands of contributors deliver millions of articles, forming an encyclopaedia that is worth millions of dollars.

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Motivations

The term social software was created only recently; however, applications that follow this paradigm are much older. Due to different reasons, there is some hype about these applications now. Thus, new start-up companies offering such information systems achieve a very high financial rating through their large number of users and the large body of information. However, this is only one group of social software that achieves very high volumes of users. Social software is also used to build smaller communities with a restricted access. Thus, a company may invite its customers into such a community for online support on products and services of the company. Social software is also used to support knowledge exchange between employees of companies (Wenger, 2004).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Divide: The gap between people with and without access to digital media and technology, such as computers, the Internet, and mobile devices.

High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA): Referred to as 3.5G technology, HSDPA provides high data transfer speeds (peak rate: 14 Mbps, average rate: 1 Mbps) using a high-speed downlink shared channel.

Participatory Simulation: A type of simulations that involves participations of users through mobile devices and physical activities, instead of watching simulations in front of desktop computers.

Classroom Communication System (CCS): CCS is a system aimed to promote students’ active participation even in large classrooms and to provide instructors and students with timely formative information about students’ learning status at the time of assessment. This system enables an instructor to load questions on students’ input devices, to gather their responses through wired or wireless hubs, and to display the aggregated responses in a graphical format.

Location-Aware Learning System (LALS): Location-aware system is a technique to detect a user’s physical location. When this location information is used to provide a user with context-specific information for learning per se, it is called a location-aware learning system.

Mobile Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (mCSCL): A new area of CSCL that utilizes the advantage of wireless and mobile technologies to create collaborative learning environments.

IR (Infrared) Beaming: Hand-held devices with an infrared port support quick information exchange through beaming. When a user receives a beam, data are automatically transferred and stored in the applications of handhelds.

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