17.28, Tuesday 12 Nov 2002

Last's Friday's Social Software Seminar got my brain buzzing in a way it hasn't since the O'Reilly Emerging Tech Conference earlier this year. The seminar kicks off The Work Foundation's iSociety research project (which also, wonderfully and inevitably, has a weblog), and was headlined by Clay Shirky. Social software is very now, and it brings together two main strands: First. Now we've seen that social environments can be created technologically (what's worked: email, www. What's not been as big: MOOs), what properties do successful technologies have that we can harness and steer to not just communities but directed groups? Second. In the main the new media have only be used for one-to-one and one-to-many, and even the www has just democratised broadcast -- but the capability is there for many-to-many communication; how is this to be done?

With all of that in mind, I've posted my rough Social Software Seminar notes. As with my other notes (cf ETCon 2002 notes), they're unedited and taken in the heat of battle. The event notes are interleaved with my own thoughts, which progress over the seminar, are contained in square brackets, and gradually completely dominate. The section at the end, rumblings, contains thoughts knocking around my head before I walked through the door. I'll be writing up some of the more defined ideas soon.

See also: Tom Coates' seminar outline. I'd make two comments about his notes: Communities is a generic term, and social software I believe refers more to directed group conversations; and constitutions needn't be literal if the decision making mechanism can be declared by implementation.