Social Software

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What Does Social Software Mean?

Social software is a category of software systems that primarily functions to allow user collaboration and communication. Examples of social software include:

  • Instant messaging
  • Email
  • Internet forums
  • Chat rooms
  • Wikis (Web pages allowing editing by viewers)
  • Web blogs
  • Social network services (participants that communicate about shared interests, such as hobbies or causes)

Social software is often defined as bottom-up social development. Usually, participants are classless and voluntary and have earned reputations and trust among themselves. Frequently, persistent and lasting relationships are created by members with common interests, goals, mindsets, tendencies, factions or associations.

Techopedia Explains Social Software

Other less common social software categories include the following:

  • Social Network Search Engines: A class of search engines that filters results, usually in one of two categories – Explicit, which are explicitly stated social relationships (such as friends, relatives or co-workers) and Implicit, which allow people to find others in a trusted social network (such as one with a common point of view that is possibly political or religious).
  • Deliberative Social Networks: Designed for discussion, debate and decision making. Often, they are used to establish relationships between individuals and government.
  • Commercial Social Networks: Designed to create brand loyalty and use customers to solicit ideas for improving products, product delivery and services.
  • Social Guides: Recommend places for travelers to visit, eat and be entertained.
  • Social Bookmarking: Individuals share their bookmarks or “favorites,” allowing sharing with others, who may select from favorite websites. Enterprises may have similar social software, allowing sharing of business pertinent websites, known as enterprise bookmarking.
  • Social Cataloging: Common among academics, these consist of collections of citations or sources of information about common subjects of research or study.
  • Social Online Storage: File archives of many types and often use peer-to-peer (P2P) technology, allowing public distribution and file sharing.
  • Virtual Worlds: Allow individuals to meet and interact with other people in a fictitious virtual environment, often using chat or voice features, which is sometimes referred to as virtual reality.

But there are also social software critics, especially in the business environment, where employees may consume significant time using social software. Perceived social obligations through multiple communications can create distractions from daily work and responsibilities – affecting dozens and sometimes thousands of employees. While each communication may be very brief, the cumulative affect on an enterprise may be significant enough to affect productivity.


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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.