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« Social Software Critic | Main | round-up on MySpace and culture of fear »

November 3, 2005

Programmer's Definition of Social Software

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Posted by Ross Mayfield

Jimmy Wales:
“I think, partly because of the personality types who become programmers… I don’t know what it is exactly… a lot of programmers, seem to me to think that the whole point of social software is to replace the social with the software. Which is not really what you want to do, right? Social Software should exist to empower us to be human… to interact… in all the normal ways that humans do.”

Via a correction in danah’s comments

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: social software


1. Alfred Thompsona on November 4, 2005 7:20 AM writes...

It's an interesting sound bite but I don't believe it's true. Perhaps its because I have been a programmer my whole adult life and my context is all messed up but I can't identify any social software that tries to replace social with software. Can someone give me an example?

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2. Brian Puckett on November 4, 2005 8:51 AM writes...

The first comment proves your point. as example IM Bots. AOL/others push to resounding deafness to some perceived need to instant message a machine *software*

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3. Ross Mayfield on November 4, 2005 10:13 AM writes...

I'll use a Wikipedia example. Consider the Permission to Participate design pattern. A user can use without having to get the permission to. They can come in, edit and mess up a page. After a little while of using this permission, regular people tend to reach out to new users and say, hey, good job. Or, you might be interested in this page as well, or something.

Jimnmy says that programmers keep suggesting features that would, say, provide an automated praise for someone at their 10th edit. That's fine and all, but it doesn't replace a human reaching out to a human.

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4. Joseph O'Connell on November 5, 2005 2:54 PM writes...

I don't think we should pin this on programmers. Good programmers are lazy, in the sense that we want to develop just the right amount of software to solve a business need. Instead, I would argue that we need to educate business stakeholders on the virtues of social innovation; these are the people usually pushing for over-engineered solutions, not ambitious programmers.

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