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Re: [blogrollers] New social software blog

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  • Dave Winer
    As I read this, I want to take the quotes off new. It makes it read much plainer, and more accurately, less defensive. No, of course there s nothing wrong
    Message 1 of 19 , Apr 25 2:15 PM
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      As I read this, I want to take the quotes off "new." It makes it read much plainer, and more accurately, less defensive.

      No, of course there's nothing wrong about discussion of, even promotion of, ideas that aren't new. Good examples: safe sex, wearing seat belts, voting, taking your vitamins, those are just a few things that are not new that are worth promoting.

      When people ask me if weblogs are new, I say they aren't. I often volunteer that. I feel it's important to set expectations. If I didn't the ideas wouldn't have a chance to be appreciated for what they are.

      But I have watched with horror as good ideas have been promoted as panaceas by people who don't understand them. The first time it happened to something I cared about was with outliners when they were eclipsed by Personal Information Managers. Same idea. Different words. It would have worked out better for had the energy applied to a half-baked product been applied to the then-maturing category of outliners. But then, quickly, it was time to move on to another flash in the pan and then another and another.

      My hope is that we're done with technology as a flash in the pan, as a way to make marketing hypesters rich at the expense of users waiting for an upgrade to a product that's never going to get upgraded.

      Think about it -- how can you help what's already working -- instead of replacing it. It's a bad omen, imho, that Clay had a Social Software Summit and chose only a few people in the business to be present. I don't want Clay doing the choosing. I know he shrugs it off, but he is choosing who speaks about this Social Software thing. Better imho if the idea just fades away and let's stay focused on making our software better and having the stuff work better together.

      Dave


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Elizabeth Lane Lawley
      To: blogrollers@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Friday, April 25, 2003 4:52 PM
      Subject: Re: [blogrollers] New social software blog


      Back on the laptop. Here's what I wrote while sitting through
      interminable meetings today. Don't know yet how much of this will make
      it out to either of the blogs. Still thinking. But thought I'd share it
      with this smaller group.

      =====

      Social software isn't a new thing. One could argue (correctly, I
      think), that it's been around since the first e-mail message was sent.
      Early adopters of network technologies were active participants in
      "social" environments like Adventure, BITNET LISTSERVs, and CompuServer
      CB Simulator. So why is there so much energy and excitement right now
      in developer and academic communities about "social software"? Is it
      just hype? (Dave Winer thinks so.) Or is it something more?

      The fact that something's not "new" doesn't make it unworthy of
      discussion and debate, however. Weblogs aren't "new," but there's lots
      of talk about them right now. Intellectual property arguments and
      conflicts aren't new, but nobody's arguing that Donna Wentworth's blog
      is "just hype." Biotech isn't new, either. XML isn't new. Does that
      mean that we should stop talking about them?

      Ten years ago, when I was a doctoral student, my major area of interest
      was "computer-mediated communication." In a lot of ways, what academics
      (and developers) were calling CMC back in the '80s and '90s is the same
      thing that we're calling social software today. But getting people to
      take CMC seriously as both a medium for and a subject of research was a
      challenge back then. Only in the past few years have we seen the
      emergence of an academic journal focused on the topic. And finding
      clear definitions of CMC is still a challenge.

      So what's different now? A lot of things, I think. First of all, more
      ubiquity in connectivity. The Internet is no longer a niche market,
      primarily restricted to well-educated, technically sophisticated people
      working in high-tech and academic environments. Second, fewer technical
      barriers to adoption. For example, it used to be a serious challenge to
      figure out how to create a BITNET LISTSERV for people who shared your
      interests. It's far easier to create a Yahoo! group (which is why my
      sons' cub scout pack has one for alerting parents to upcoming events).
      Third, a new crop of researchers is coming of age in the
      academy--people who recognize computer-mediated environments as a
      "real" sociological and communicative environment (look at people like
      Seb Paquet, Eszter Hargittai, Alex Halavais, Thomas Burg, and even me,
      for example).

      No, this isn't something "new." But it's still in need of a number of
      things right now.

      The first is a shared vocabulary. What are we _talking_ about when we
      talk about social software? Are blogs "social," for example? Some are
      really just publishing platforms (Dave Winer, for example, doesn't
      provide any mechanisms for commenting or trackbacks on his blog--is it
      really social? I'd argue not. Others are very social, with much of
      their value coming from the discussions in the comments and the content
      in the trackbacks (Shelley Powers comes to mind here--not that her
      original content isn't key to the weblog, but it's enriched and
      expanded by the social nature of her comments and trackbacks). Ross'
      ecosystem of networks (posted earlier) provides for an interesting
      discussion of various "modes" for blogs--and that's the kind of
      valuable (to me, anyhow) analysis that these new conversations on
      social software are yielding.

      The second is a shared (and open) community of developers and
      researchers. The SSA is a starting point for this, but already the
      tensions are obvious. The researchers want definitions. The developers
      want us to quit talking and start coding. What I'm hoping is that we'll
      start to find a place in the middle that will help us both.

      Lately, I've found myself regularly reminded of something that Howard
      Rheingold wrote in his book _The Virtual Community_ back in 1993:

      "Right now, all we have on the Net is folklore, like the Netiquette
      that old-timers try to teach the flood of new arrivals, and debates
      about freedom of expression versus nurturance of community. About two
      dozen social scientists, working for several years, might produce
      conclusions that would help inform these debates and furnish a basis of
      validated observation for all the theories flying around. A science of
      Net behavior is not going to reshape the way people behave online, but
      knowledge of the dynamics of how people do behave is an important
      social feedback loop to install if the Net is to be self-governing at
      any scale."

      Here we are, a decade later, without much of that "social feedback
      loop" in place. There's now an Association of Internet Researchers,
      where a lot of interesting research is being talked about. And there's
      certainly lots of exciting new software being developed. But there have
      been huge gaps between the resesarch community and the development
      community, and I think both sides are poorer for it.

      What excites me about the budding SSA, and this new blog, is that both
      seem to be moving towards more dialog in these areas. Both have
      representation from both research and development, from the academy and
      from industry. But all the participants have a history of working with
      social technologies. Most were early adopters, many are innovators
      and/or though tful critics in the field.

      What's new is that these people are _talking_ to each other. (Not
      always nicely, but that's still an improvement over silence.) Yes, we
      need people to write code, build systems, think outside the box. But I
      think we also need people to provide a feedback loop in that process.
      It doesn't need to be--and _shouldn't_ be--an either/or situation.


      .-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-.
      Elizabeth Lane Lawley, Ph.D.
      Asst. Professor - RIT/Info Tech
      site: http://www.it.rit.edu/~ell/
      blog: http://www.it.rit.edu/~ell/mamamusings/
      .-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-.


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    • Danny Ayers
      Dave is of course right when he says that the ideas aren t really new. NNTP news, email, the web itself etc etc are all arguably Social Software. Specifically
      Message 2 of 19 , Apr 26 6:18 AM
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        Dave is of course right when he says that the ideas aren't really
        new. NNTP news, email, the web itself etc etc are all arguably
        Social Software. Specifically in light of recent developments, there
        was at least one blog around 10+ years ago [1], and XML
        news/syndication formats date back at least 6 years [2]. But the
        difference is these things are now joining up like never before. The
        infrastructure (hardware, protocols, languages) really is now ready
        for the multi-way web.

        A case in point: just now I got a comment from Dave on my blog.
        Clicking on the link attached to his name took me to his blog. There
        I read a post referring to this list. A moment or two later I
        clicked "Join this Group" - and here I am. Hi folks!

        This couldn't/wouldn't have happened a few years ago. IMHO it is an
        extremely good time to reevaluate what we've got and where we're
        going in the context of 'Social Software'.

        Cheers,
        Danny.

        [1] http://www.w3.org/History/19921103-
        hypertext/hypertext/WWW/News/9201.html
        [2] http://www.w3.org/TR/NOTE-CDFsubmit.html
      • Dave Winer
        ... Excuse me while I faint. [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        Message 3 of 19 , Apr 26 6:25 AM
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          >>Dave is of course right

          Excuse me while I faint.


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • marccanter
          What excites me about the budding SSA, and this new blog, is that both seem to be moving towards more dialog in these areas. - Liz My hope is that we re done
          Message 4 of 19 , Apr 26 7:06 PM
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            What excites me about the budding SSA, and this new blog, is that
            both seem to be moving towards more dialog in these areas. - Liz

            My hope is that we're done with technology as a flash in the pan, as
            a way to make marketing hypesters rich at the expense of users
            waiting for an upgrade to a product that's never going to get
            upgraded. - Dave

            Social software isn't a new thing. XML isn't new. Does that mean that
            we should stop talking about them? - Liz

            ----------

            Clay made it clear (during his keynote at ETCON) that basic human
            behavior patterns not only influence, but in fact dictate social
            software. The phrase he's using - connotes not just technology but
            also human behavior patterns.

            This intermix and recognition of the sociological aspects of social
            software is what's different now. Clay went on to quote numerous
            books and studies which have disclosed classic group versus
            individual conflicts that we all know well.

            So what's new now?

            A balance between the technical and sociological factors.
            Technologists need to take into account these basic human behavior
            patterns and sociologists need to learn about what's possible, and
            request features and capabilities.
          • Dave Winer
            If I may present an alternate point of view -- what s different now is that Clay is hyping it, and it s exclusive.
            Message 5 of 19 , Apr 27 2:03 AM
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              If I may present an alternate point of view -- what's different now is that Clay is hyping it, and it's exclusive.

              http://www.picpix.com/brad/gallery/0008kcbx?page=1

              In that way it's very much like the hype balloons of the past.

              To me it looks like a way for you to raise VC money and for Clay to get consulting contracts.

              Too bad for the users of current products, I guess -- they have to wait for Clay and his friends to reinvent all the wheels, right?

              Remember the CD ROM business, Marc?

              Tell us about how stupid that was.

              Dave

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Marc Canter
              You re absolutely right. But I don t think we ll be reinventing the wheel as much as making sure our software is usable by humans. ... From: Dave Winer
              Message 6 of 19 , Apr 27 2:11 AM
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                You're absolutely right.

                But I don't think we'll be reinventing the wheel as much as making sure our
                software is usable by humans.
                -----Original Message-----
                From: Dave Winer [mailto:dave@...]
                Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2003 2:03 AM
                To: blogrollers@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: Re: [blogrollers] Re: New social software blog


                If I may present an alternate point of view -- what's different now is
                that Clay is hyping it, and it's exclusive.

                http://www.picpix.com/brad/gallery/0008kcbx?page=1

                In that way it's very much like the hype balloons of the past.

                To me it looks like a way for you to raise VC money and for Clay to get
                consulting contracts.

                Too bad for the users of current products, I guess -- they have to wait
                for Clay and his friends to reinvent all the wheels, right?

                Remember the CD ROM business, Marc?

                Tell us about how stupid that was.

                Dave

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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              • Dave Winer
                The only part of that sentence that I would ask you to take a look at is our software. That s the problem with manufactured trends. Some stuff is inside the
                Message 7 of 19 , Apr 27 4:00 AM
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                  The only part of that sentence that I would ask you to take a look at is "our software."

                  That's the problem with manufactured trends. Some stuff is inside the circle, and some is outside.

                  And whether you're in or out does depend, as Andrew Orlowski posited and Clay dismissed with a joke, whether Clay likes you or not.

                  Clay is a smart guy and he sure is easy to get along with, but he's not *that* smart, and easy-to-get-along-with is over-rated. Most goodsoftware is made by people who are not very easy to get along with because they are perfectionists, you have to be to get any quality to come out the other end. How much energy was wasted in the late 80s trying to get AI into your software. I saw that from the outside (I refused to jump on board) and then from the inside after merging with Symantec (an AI company, heh).

                  Hey Symantec actually did do some AI software, and it wasn't bad. The funny thing is that the pundits had lost interest by the time they shipped, and the users never placed that high a value on software that understood what they meant. ;->

                  Dave

                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: Marc Canter
                  To: blogrollers@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2003 5:11 AM
                  Subject: RE: [blogrollers] Re: New social software blog


                  You're absolutely right.

                  But I don't think we'll be reinventing the wheel as much as making sure our
                  software is usable by humans.
                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: Dave Winer [mailto:dave@...]
                  Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2003 2:03 AM
                  To: blogrollers@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: Re: [blogrollers] Re: New social software blog


                  If I may present an alternate point of view -- what's different now is
                  that Clay is hyping it, and it's exclusive.

                  http://www.picpix.com/brad/gallery/0008kcbx?page=1

                  In that way it's very much like the hype balloons of the past.

                  To me it looks like a way for you to raise VC money and for Clay to get
                  consulting contracts.

                  Too bad for the users of current products, I guess -- they have to wait
                  for Clay and his friends to reinvent all the wheels, right?

                  Remember the CD ROM business, Marc?

                  Tell us about how stupid that was.

                  Dave

                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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                • Danny Ayers
                  ... Not so. I don t think I have ever had any direct communication with Clay, but his writing on social software rang some bells for me. So I put my name on
                  Message 8 of 19 , Apr 27 4:33 AM
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                    > The only part of that sentence that I would ask you to take a
                    > look at is "our software."
                    >
                    > That's the problem with manufactured trends. Some stuff is inside
                    > the circle, and some is outside.
                    >
                    > And whether you're in or out does depend, as Andrew Orlowski
                    > posited and Clay dismissed with a joke, whether Clay likes you or not.

                    Not so. I don't think I have ever had any direct communication with Clay,
                    but his writing on social software rang some bells for me. So I put my name
                    on the list (on the Wiki, in actual fact). I wish to associate myself with
                    this work because I think the ideas are good. I will try and ensure that the
                    software I write is interoperates well with other software, is usable by
                    humans, etc etc. I am declaring *myself* inside the circle.

                    > Clay is a smart guy and he sure is easy to get along with, but
                    > he's not *that* smart, and easy-to-get-along-with is over-rated.

                    He's getting a great Extended Winer Number...

                    > Most goodsoftware is made by people who are not very easy to get
                    > along with because they are perfectionists, you have to be to get
                    > any quality to come out the other end.

                    Twaddle. I've seen loads of good and bad software over the years, and if
                    anything the better software came from people that were easy to get along
                    with - probably because they were better listeners.

                    How much energy was wasted
                    > in the late 80s trying to get AI into your software. I saw that
                    > from the outside (I refused to jump on board) and then from the
                    > inside after merging with Symantec (an AI company, heh).
                    >
                    > Hey Symantec actually did do some AI software, and it wasn't bad.
                    > The funny thing is that the pundits had lost interest by the time
                    > they shipped, and the users never placed that high a value on
                    > software that understood what they meant. ;->

                    I don't really see what point you're trying to make here.

                    Cheers,
                    Danny.
                  • David Weinberger
                    Self/blog-promotion is ok on Blogrollers, isn t it? If so: I live-blogged the first Wolfram conference yesterday and will live-blog the morning sessions today.
                    Message 9 of 19 , Jun 28, 2003
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                      Self/blog-promotion is ok on Blogrollers, isn't it?

                      If so: I live-blogged the first Wolfram conference yesterday and will
                      live-blog the morning sessions today. The entries start here:

                      http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/mtarchive/001700.html

                      And I write here about why I find Wolfram interesting:

                      http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/mtarchive/001701.html

                      If self/blog-promotion isn't ok on this list, then:

                      1. Let me know.

                      2. I won't do it again.

                      3. I'm sorry.


                      -- David W.
                      -----------------------------------------------------------
                      David Weinberger* 'zine: www.hyperorg.com
                      self@... blog: www.hyperorg.com/blogger
                      cluetrain: www.cluetrain.com
                      new book: www.smallpieces.com
                      speaking: www.hyperorg.com/speaker
                      *Elevator statement on file with building supervisor
                    • Dave Winer
                      David, as founder of this list, imho it s totally appropriate. That s what the list is for, back-channel information sharing between weblogs, of exactly this
                      Message 10 of 19 , Jun 28, 2003
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                        David, as founder of this list, imho it's totally appropriate. That's what the list is for, back-channel information sharing between weblogs, of exactly this ilk. Dave



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