"The rise of social software" by Michele Tepper

"In this age of tech industry retrenchment and reorganization, and the busting of DotCom dreams, it's surprising to learn that one area of Web software development—now known as "social software"—is more vibrant and active than ever.

Social software refers to various, loosely connected types of applications that allow individuals to communicate with one another, and to track discussions across the Web as they happen.

Many forms of social software are already old news for experienced technology users; bulletin boards, instant messaging, online role-playing games, and even the collaborative editing tools built into most word processing software all qualify.

But there are a whole host of new tools for discussion and collaboration, many of them in some way tied to the rise of the Weblog (or "blog").

New content syndication and aggregation tools, collaborative virtual workspaces, and collaborative editing tools, among others, are becoming popular, and social software is maturing so quickly that keeping up with it could be a full-time job in itself.

What's more, social software, especially the popular Weblog (or "blog") publishing tools, is gaining notice by the larger players on the Web.

Google recently purchased Pyra, creator of the popular Weblog tool Blogger, and added "Blog This!" as an option on its Google Toolbar.

AOL has announced that it will launch its own Weblog tool for its more than thirty million subscribers this summer.

Soon blogs—perhaps the first native publishing format for the Web—may become one of the most important prisms through which we understand the online world, since they and their relatives in collaboration and group discussion tools may become our primary way of interacting with one another online".

in Michele Tepper "The rise of social software", in netWorker
Volume 7, Number 3 (2003), Pages 18-23. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/940830.940831