Social Software

As graduation approaches I’m starting to think more and more about what I’m going to do once I get my degree. My current job is not too bad. The people are friendly and the time off is great. I’d like to make more money, but who wouldn’t. Besides, once I get my degree I expect to get a raise.

A while back I posted about starting my own software company. That’s something that will happen, and soon. I already have several working programs that I think other people would pay money for, and I have a few more either in progress or at least in mind. It seems like I’m always trying to think up some new program to make people’s lives better.

My latest obsession is so-called social software. These are programs that bring groups of people together with similar interests.

The first example that most people have experienced is You can buy books just about anywhere, but where else can you get detailed reviews from people all over the world, and recommendations based on your past purchases and ratings. Another popular social site is eBay. On eBay, it’s easy to see who’s a good seller or if someone is a deadbeat bidder. Everyone on the site works together to make a strong community.

Another example would be weblogs and discussion boards. I’m a big fan of At Slashdot, the editors take submissions from visitors for interesting news stories. The editors pick the ones they like, then all of the visitors discuss them. Site visitors are also sometimes given the ability to moderate other visitor’s comments in the discussion. This way, the meaningless comments are eventually eliminated and an interesting discussion emerges. takes this concept a bit further. At Kuro5hin, the readers of the site decide what stories to run on the front page. Anyone can submit a story and then vote on which stories are interesting enough for further discussion.

For some people, social software goes beyond complex sites such as these. CC’ing a group of people in e-mail and then using reply to all can be a great way to communicate with a group. The group I’m in right now uses this technique quite a bit. We have discussions on everything from the design of our program, to who is bringing what for dinner at the next meeting.

Here’s a list of websites that I just added to my bookmarks about social software:

That should be enough to keep me busy for at least the next few evenings…