Social computing explained

David Tebbutt’s article in The Register on Friday has the simplest answer I’ve yet seen to the question “What is social computing?” –

Think of social computing as a platform upon which people can collaborate in ad hoc groups, where they can share their expertise with others, possibly strangers, and where the by-products of their activities automatically add to the wealth of retained corporate knowledge.

Sounds like knowledge management doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. There’s none of the coercive aspects of that particular discipline. And, before you ask, it’s much more free-form and less centrally-directed than groupware. In fact, social computing is a curious mix of top-down initiation and bottom-up implementation.

Sometimes it arrives with the blessing of IT. Sometimes it arrives anyway, assuming the users can get hold of an IP address.[…] Users access all the software services through their browser, preferably one with tabs, so they can flick easily from one application to another.

As David‘s article goes on to explain, the main software elements are wikis, blogs, RSS and tags.

Easier to understand than the current Wikipedia definition.

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