Friday, January 12, 2007

Social Software Round Up: Part 1

We had a good crowd come out on January 2nd for our first Tech Talk of 2007 -- it was a great way to kick off the year. I have been meaning to get this post written for the last week but have been swamped with other duties. I will split the post in two as I still need to find time to convert our PPT slides to PDF. Here, in brief, are a few of the highlights that Karen and I covered that evening.

What is Social Software?
A relatively "new" term with lots of creative and complex defintions.
Simplest Definition -- software that facilitates collaboration.
Wikipedia Defintion -- Software that enables people to rendez-vous, connect or colloborate through computer-mediated communication.

MySpace is one of the best known social software sites, but there are many sites that utilize social software for a variety of reasons. Social software is about meeting people, but it is also about sharing information, opinions and interests.

A few examples of Social Software Sites:
Positive Aspects of Social Software for Teens (and others):
  • Expressing Individuality
  • Engaging in Reading and Writing
  • Sharing Ideas and Opinions (and sometimes creative work such as music or photos)
  • Great tool for learning hands-on about blogging, podcasting, and other new technologies
  • Community Building and collaboration with others
  • Communication with each other, but also Teens to Adults and Adults to Teens.
  • Raising awareness of events and "causes"
  • Freedom to choose, be creative and express themselves.
The "Hype" is that social software is dangerous and should be banned from places like public libraries and schools. While tt is true that predators can and do use social software to find victims, they also use Instant Messaging, Message Boards, and other forms of electronic communication in addition to going to public places like malls. The problem of online predators and cyberbullying is much larger than banning a few popular social software sites. A proactive approach of teaching our children and teens about online safety is crucial because the "reality" is that much of MySpace and other sites are safe when you are aware of common sense rules for protecting your identity online.

A great site for learning about safety online is WiredSafety, which includes great handouts on Social Software and YouTube.

I will hopefully find time to finish this post next week. Feedback and comments are welcome.


Island in the Net said...

The sites you mentioned in your article are great for the teen to 20 something crowd but...

You forget the ones that would be be more useful for a career focused age group. Sites such as and provide an avenue for career and business networking for professionals.

MySpace is great for a teenager but does it interest the people usually in attendance at Tuesday Technology Talk?

My LinkedIn profile:

Some links:,4149,1418686,00.asp

Janie L. Hermann said...

Abbreviated copy of the email I sent Khurt:

Thanks so much for reading the blog and leaving comments -- much appreciated.

I agree that the sites we demonstrated are for the teen to 20-something crowd. The purpose of this talk was to define social software and dispel the myths and hype. I totally agree that MySpace etc. is not the place for the average person who attends Tech Talks.

[I asked Khurt to speak, but his schedule for the spring is booked. If anyone else is interested in talking about Linkedin and other social software sites for professionals let me know].