Software

3.4234841193671 (2078)
Posted by r2d2 02/28/2009 @ 06:01

Tags : software, technology

News headlines
TIMELINE: SAP's steps to bring cloud software to market - Reuters
DE), the world's biggest business software maker, began developing a Web-based offering five years ago but the project has been beset by delays. It originally aimed to have 10000 customers generating $1 billion of revenues from the software,...
IBM offers real time analysis software - Inquirer
By Sylvie Barak IBM SAYS it will soon launch software able to analyse real time data in, er... real time. The tech giant has turned increasingly towards the lucrative software and services sector as hardware margins have tightened....
BMC Software shares stumble after 4Q miss - Forbes
AP , 05.13.09, 01:29 PM EDT Shares of BMC Software Inc. dropped 8 percent Wednesday after the company's fourth-quarter cash flow and revenue came in below forecasts. The Houston-based business software maker said Tuesday that earnings dropped 14...
Oracle Wanted Sun's Software Unit Only, Records Show - InformationWeek
Oracle on March 12 "sent a letter to our board proposing the acquisition by Oracle of certain of our software assets, a minority equity investment by Oracle in our common stock, and entering into certain strategic relationships," Sun said in a filing...
Software piracy cost $53b, study says - Boston Globe
SINGAPORE - Microsoft Corp., Adobe Systems Inc., and other software makers lost a record $53 billion in potential sales to piracy in 2008, an industry study shows. Illegally copied programs represented 41 percent of all software, 3 percentage points...
Oracle Corp. buys Virtual Iron Software - Bizjournals.com
The Redwood City company (NASDAQ: ORCL) agreed to buy Virtual Iron Software Inc., which makes software to help servers in data centers work better. Oracle, which is also in the process of buying Sun Microsystems, has grown for years through dozens of...
Apple unleashes 10.5.7 update via Software Update - Ars Technica
The update is now appearing in Software Update, with various updaters available from Apple's Support Downloads page. Security updates have also been issued for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger as well as Safari. The 10.5.7 update addresses a number of issues,...
Unofficial Software Incurs Apple's Wrath - New York Times
However, in order to use these programs, iPhone owners have to “jailbreak” their device — downloading a bit of software that bypasses Apple's restrictions and allows the installation of unsanctioned third-party programs. The growing popularity of...
Global CIO: How The World's Hottest Enterprise Software Company ... - InformationWeek
By Bob Evans Ah, the sweet promise of enterprise software in mid-2009: Oracle and SAP calling each other dog-eaters, cloud computing caught between vast potential and bottomless hype, Microsoft still unsure about what it wants to be when it grows up,...
Sybase partners on software for mobile devices - Reuters
BOSTON (Reuters) - Business software maker Sybase is partnering with a large technology company to help sell its software that companies use to deliver computer programs to mobile devices. Sybase plans to announce the partnership on Thursday,...

Software engineer

A software engineer is a person who applies the principles of software engineering to the design, development, testing, and evaluation of the software and systems that make computers or anything with software such as chips work. Positives of this career are the good money, option of working at home, and it's perfect for people that want to work with computers and have a predilection for them.

Prior to the mid-1990s, most software practitioners called themselves programmers or developers, regardless of their actual jobs. Many people prefer to call themselves software developer and programmer, because most widely agree what these terms mean, while software engineer is still being debated.

The term programmer has often been used as a pejorative term to refer to those who lacked the tools, skills, education, or ethics to write good quality software. In response, many practitioners called themselves software engineers to escape the stigma attached to the word programmer. In many companies, the titles programmer and software developer were changed to software engineer, for many categories of programmers.

These terms cause confusion, because some denied any differences (arguing that everyone does essentially the same thing with software) while others use the terms to create a difference (because the terms mean completely different jobs).

In 2004, the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 760,840 software engineers holding jobs in the U.S.; in the same time period there were some 1.4 million practitioners employed in the U.S. in all other engineering disciplines combined. Due to its relative newness as a field of study, formal education in software engineering is often taught as part of a computer science curriculum, and as a result most software engineers hold computer science degrees. The term software engineer is used very liberally in the corporate world. Very few of the practicing software engineers actually hold Engineering degrees from accredited universities. In fact, according to the Association for Computing Machinery, "most people who now function in the U.S. as serious software engineers have degrees in computer science, not in software engineering". See also Debates within software engineering and Controversies over the term Engineer.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies computer software engineers as a subcategory of "computer specialists", along with occupations such as computer scientist, programmer, and network administrator. The BLS classifies all other engineering disciplines, including computer hardware engineers, as "engineers".

The U.K. has seen the alignment of the Information Technology Professional and the Engineering Professionals.

Software engineering in Canada has seen some contests in the courts over the use of the title "Software Engineer" The Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (C.C.P.E. or "Engineers Canada") will not grant a "Professional Engineer" status/license to anyone who has not completed a recognized academic engineering program. Engineers qualified outside Canada are similarly unable to obtain a "Professional Engineer" license. Since 2001, the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board has accredited several university programs in software engineering, allowing graduates to apply for a professional engineering licence once the other prerequisites are obtained, although this does nothing to help IT professionals using the title with degrees in other fields (such as computer science).

Some of the United States of America regulate the use of terms such as "computer engineer" and even "software engineer". These states include at least Texas and Florida. Texas even goes so far as to ban anyone from writing any real-time code without an engineering license.

About half of all practitioners today have computer science degrees. A small, but growing, number of practitioners have software engineering degrees. In 1987 Imperial College London introduced the first three year software engineering Bachelor's degree in the UK and the world, in the following year the University of Sheffield established a similar programme. In 1996, Rochester Institute of Technology established the first software engineering Bachelor's degree program in the United States, however, it did not obtain ABET until 2003, the same time as Clarkson University, Milwaukee School of Engineering and Mississippi State University.

Since then, software engineering undergraduate degrees have been established at many universities. A standard international curriculum for undergraduate software engineering degrees was recently defined by the CCSE. As of 2004, in the U.S., about 50 universities offer software engineering degrees, which teach both computer science and engineering principles and practices. The first software engineering Master's degree was established at Seattle University in 1979. Since then graduate software engineering degrees have been made available from many more universities. Likewise in Canada, the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers has recognized several software engineering programs.

In 1998, the US Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) established the first doctorate program in Software Engineering in the world. Additionally, many online advanced degrees in Software Engineering have appeared such as the Master of Science in Software Engineering (MSE) degree offered through the Computer Science and Engineering Department at California State University, Fullerton. Steve McConnell opines that because most universities teach computer science rather than software engineering, there is a shortage of true software engineers. ETS University and UQAM were mandated by IEEE to develop the SoftWare Engineering BOdy of Knowledge SWEBOK, which has become an ISO standard describing the body of knowledge covered by a software engineer.

In business, some software engineering practitioners have MIS degrees. In embedded systems, some have electrical or computer engineering degrees, because embedded software often requires a detailed understanding of hardware. In medical software, practitioners may have medical informatics, general medical, or biology degrees.

Some practitioners have mathematics, science, engineering, or technology degrees. Some have philosophy (logic in particular) or other non-technical degrees. And, others have no degrees. For instance, Barry Boehm earned degrees in mathematics.

Most software engineers work as employees or contractors. Software engineers work with businesses, government agencies (civilian or military), and non-profit organizations. Some software engineers work for themselves as freelancers. Some organizations have specialists to perform each of the tasks in the software development process. Other organizations required software engineers to do many or all of them. In large projects, people may specialize in only one role. In small projects, people may fill several or all roles at the same time. Specializations include: in industry (analysts, architects, developers, testers, technical support, managers) and in academia (educators, researchers).

There is considerable debate over the future employment prospects for Software Engineers and other IT Professionals. For example, an online futures market called the Future of IT Jobs in America attempts to answer whether there will be more IT jobs, including software engineers, in 2012 than there were in 2002.

Professional certification of software engineers is a contentious issue. Some see it as a tool to improve professional practice.

Most successful certification programs in the software industry are oriented toward specific technologies, and are managed by the vendors of these technologies. These certification programs are tailored to the institutions that would employ people who use these technologies.

The ACM had a professional certification program in the early 1980s, which was discontinued due to lack of interest. . As of 2006, the IEEE had certified over 575 software professionals. In Canada the Canadian Information Processing Society has developed a legally recognized professional certification called Information Systems Professional (ISP).

Many students in the developed world have avoided degrees related to software engineering because of the fear of offshore outsourcing (importing software products or services from other countries) and of being displaced by foreign visa workers. Although government statistics do not currently show a threat to software engineering itself; a related career, computer programming does appear to have been affected. Often one is expected to start out as a computer programmer before being promoted to software engineer. Thus, the career path to software engineering may be rough, especially during recessions.

Some career counselors suggest a student also focus on "people skills" and business skills rather than purely technical skills because such "soft skills" are allegedly more difficult to offshore. It is the quasi-management aspects of software engineering that appear to be what has kept it from being impacted by globalization.

Some people believe that software engineering implies a certain level of academic training, professional discipline, and adherence to formal processes that often are not applied in cases of software development. A common analogy is that working in construction does not make one a civil engineer, and so writing code does not make one a software engineer. It is disputed by some - in particular by the Canadian Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) body, that the field is mature enough to warrant the title "engineering". The PEO's position was that "software engineering" was not an appropriate name for the field since those who practiced in the field and called themselves "software engineers" were not properly licensed professional engineers, and that they should therefore not be allowed to use the name.

The word engineering within the term software engineering causes a lot of confusion.

The wrangling over the status of software engineering (between traditional engineers and computer scientists) can be interpreted as a fight over control of the word engineering. Traditional engineers question whether software engineers can legally use the term.

Traditional engineers (especially civil engineers and the NSPE) claim that they have special rights over the term engineering, and for anyone else to use it requires their approval. In the mid-1990s, the NSPE sued to prevent anyone from using the job title software engineering. The NSPE won their lawsuit in 48 states. However, SE practitioners, educators, and researchers ignored the lawsuits and called themselves software engineers anyway. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics uses the term software engineer, too. The term engineering is much older than any regulatory body, so many believe that traditional engineers have few rights to control the term. As things stand at 2007, however, even the NSPE appears to have softened its stance towards software engineering and following the heels of several overseas precedents, is investigating a possibility of licensing software engineers in consultation with IEEE, NCEES and other groups "for the protection of the public health safety and welfare" .

In Canada, the use of the words 'engineer' and 'engineering' are controlled in each province by self-regulating professional engineering organizations, often aligned with geologists and geophysicists, and tasked with enforcement of the governing legislation. The intent is that any individual holding themselves out as an engineer (or geologist or geophysicist) has been verified to have been educated to a certain accredited level, and their professional practice is subject to a code of ethics and peer scrutiny. This system was originally designed for the practise of engineering where public safety is a concern, but extends to other branches of engineering as well, including electronics and software.

In New Zealand, IPENZ, the professional engineering organization entrusted by the New Zealand government with legal power to license and regulate chartered engineers (CPEng), recognizes software engineering as a legitimate branch of professional engineering and accepts application of software engineers to obtain chartered status provided he or she has a tertiary degree of approved subjects. Software Engineering is included but Computer Science is normally not.

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Educational software

Educational software is computer software, the primary purpose of which is teaching or self-learning.

The use of computer hardware and software in education and training dates to the early 1940s, when American researchers developed flight simulators which used analog computers to generate simulated onboard instrument data. One such system was the type19 synthetic radar trainer, built in 1943. From these early attempts in the WWII era through the mid 1970s, educational software was directly tied to the hardware, usually mainframe computers, on which it ran. Pioneering educational computer systems in this era included the PLATO system (1960), developed at the University of Illinois, and TICCIT (1969). In 1963, IBM had established a partnership with Stanford University's Institute for Mathematical Studies in the Social Sciences (IMSSS), directed by Patrick Suppes, to develop the first comprehensive CAI elementary school curriculum which was implemented on a large scale in schools in both California and Mississippi. In 1967 Computer Curriculum Corporation (CCC, now Pearson Education Technologies) was formed to market to schools the materials developed through the IBM partnership. Early terminals that ran educational systems cost over $10,000, putting them out of reach of most institutions. Some programming languages from this period, particularly BASIC (1963), and LOGO (1967) can also be considered educational, as they were specifically targeted to students and novice computer users. The PLATO IV system, released in 1972, supported many features which later became standard in educational software running on home computers. Its features included bitmap graphics, primitive sound generation, and support for non-keyboard input devices, including the touchscreen.

The arrival of the personal computer, with the altair 8800 in 1975, changed the field of software in general, with specific implications for educational software. Whereas users prior to 1975 were dependent upon university or government owned mainframe computers with timesharing, users after this shift could create and use software for computers in homes and schools, computers available for less than $2000. By the early 1980s, the availability of personal computers including the Commodore PET, and Apple II allowed for the creation of companies and nonprofits which specialized in educational software. Brøderbund and the Learning Company are key companies from this period, and MECC, the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, a key non-profit software developer. These and other companies designed a range of titles for personal computers, with the bulk of the software initially developed for the Apple II.

Major developments in educational software in the early and mid 1990s were made possible by advances in computer hardware. Multimedia graphics and sound were increasingly used in educational programs. CD-Roms became the preferred method for content delivery. With the spread of the internet in the second half of the 1990s, new methods of educational software delivery appeared. In the history of virtual learning environments, the 1990s were a time of growth for educational software systems, primarily due to the advent of the affordable computer and of the Internet. Today Higher Education institutions use virtual learning environments like Blackboard Inc. to provide greater accessibility to learners.

An immense number of titles, probably running into the thousands, were developed and released from the mid-1990’s onwards, aimed primarily at the home education of younger children. Later iterations of these titles often began to link educational content to school curricula (such as England’s National Curriculum). The design of educational software programmes for home use has been influenced strongly by computer gaming concepts – in other words, they are designed to be fun as well as educational. However as far as possible a distinction should be drawn between proper learning titles (such as these) and software where the gaming outweighs the educational value (described later).

The following are examples of children’s learning software which have a structured pedagogical approach, usually orientated towards literacy and numeracy skills.

Courseware is a term that combines the words 'course' with 'software'. Its meaning originally was used to describe additional educational material intended as kits for teachers or trainers or as tutorials for students, usually packaged for use with a computer. The term's meaning and usage has expanded and can refer to the entire course and any additional material when used in reference an online or 'computer formatted' classroom. Many companies are using the term to describe the entire "package" consisting of one 'class' or 'course' bundled together with the various lessons, tests, and other material needed. The courseware itself can be in different formats, some are only available online such as html pages, while others can be downloaded in pdf files or other types of document files. Many forms of e-learning are now being blended with term courseware. Most leading educational companies solicit or include courseware with their training packages including creekcourseware. In 1992 a company called SCORE! Educational Centers formed to deliver to individual consumers courseware based on personalization technology that was previously only available to select schools and the Education Program for Gifted Youth.

A further category of educational software is software designed for use in school classrooms. Typically such software may be projected onto a large whiteboard at the front of the class and/or run simultaneously on a network of desktop computers in a classroom. This type of software is often called classroom management software. While teachers often choose to use educational software from other categories in their IT suites (e.g. reference works, children’s software), a whole category of educational software has grown up specifically intended to assist classroom teaching. Branding has been less strong in this category than in those categories orientated towards home users. Software titles are often very specialised and produced by a wide variety of manufacturers, including many established educational book publishers.

In a broader sense, the term edutainment describes an intentional merger of computer games and educational software into a single product (and could therefore also comprise more serious titles described above under children’s learning software). In the narrower sense used here, the term describes educational software which is primarily about entertainment, but tends to educate as well and sells itself partly under the educational umbrella. Software of this kind is not structured towards school curricula, does not normally involve educational advisors, and does not focus on core skills such as literacy and numeracy.

Many publishers of print dictionaries and encyclopedias have been involved in the production of educational reference software since the mid-1990s. They were joined in the reference software market by both startup companies and established software publishers, most notably Microsoft.

The first commercial reference software products were reformulations of existing content into CD-ROM editions, often supplemented with new multimedia content, including compressed video and sound. More recent products made use of internet technologies, to supplement CD-ROM products, then, more recently, to replace them entirely.

Some manufacturers regarded normal desktop computers as an inappropriate platform for learning software for younger children and produced custom child-friendly pieces of hardware instead. The hardware and software is generally combined into a single product, such as a child-sized laptop-lookalike. The most well-known example are Leapfrog products. These include imaginatively designed hand-held consoles with a variety of pluggable educational game cartridges and book-like electronic devices into which a variety of electronic books can be loaded. These products are more portable than laptop computers, but have a much more limited range of purposes, concentrating on literacy and numeracy.

These are games which were originally developed for adults or older children and which have potential learning implications. For the most part, these games provide simulations of different kinds of human activities, allowing players to explore a variety of social, historical and economic processes.

Do games such as these qualify as edutainment? To do so, they would need to have been created with a clear educational intent. In their publicity material, the developers of these games such as these generally focus more on the 'fun' aspects of the games rather than their educational potential. This might be taken as evidence of an absence of educational intent. On the other hand, large amounts of information of an overtly educational nature may be found within the manuals of many of these games (for example, Europa Universalis, Railroad Tycoon and Rails Across America), suggesting that education was indeed very much in the minds of the developers. Accordingly, these games may be classified as edutainment.

In any event, the games have been enthusiastically received in some educational circles and even passed into academic literature..

Earlier educational software for the important corporate and tertiary education markets was designed to run on a single desktop computer (or an equivalent user device). The history of such software is usefully summarized in the SCORM 2004 2nd edition Overview (section 1.3), unfortunately, however, without precise dates. In the years immediately following 2000, planners decided to switch to server-based applications with a high degree of standardization. This means that educational software runs primarily on servers which may be hundreds or thousands of miles from the actual user. The user only receives tiny pieces of a learning module or test, fed over the internet one by one. The server software decides on what learning material to distribute, collects results and displays progress to teaching staff. Another way of expressing this change is to say that educational software morphed into an online educational service. US Governmental endorsements and approval systems ensured the rapid switch to the new way of managing and distributing learning material.

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Social software

Social software encompasses a range of software systems that allow users to interact and share data. This computer-mediated communication has become very popular with social sites like MySpace and Facebook, media sites like Flickr and YouTube, and commercial sites like Amazon.com and eBay. Many of these applications share characteristics like open APIs, service oriented design, and the ability to upload data and media. The terms Web 2.0 and (for large-business applications) Enterprise 2.0 are also used to describe this style of software.

The more specific term collaborative software applies to cooperative information sharing systems, and is usually narrowly applied to the software that enables collaborative work functions. Distinctions among usage of the terms "social", "trusted", and "collaborative" are in the applications or uses, not the tools themselves, although there are some tools that are only rarely used for work collaboration.

Social technologies or Conversational technologies used in organizations, in particular a network-centric organization, are other terms used to describe knowledge creation and storage that is carried out through collaborative writing. Constructivist learning theorists such as Vygotsky; Leidner & Jarvenpaa explained that the process of expressing knowledge aids its creation and conversations benefits the refinement of knowledge. Conversational KM fulfills this purpose because conversations, e.g. questions and answers, become the source of relevant knowledge in the organization. Conversational technologies are seen as tools to support work units and the individual knowledge worker.

Many advocates of using these tools believe (and actively argue or assume) that they create actual communities, and have adopted the term "online communities" to describe the resulting social structures.

Christopher Allen supports this definition and traces the core ideas of this concept back through Computer Supported Cooperative or Collaborative Work (CSCW) in the 1990s, Groupware in the 1970s and 80s, to Englebart’s “augmentation” (1960s) and Bush’s “Memex” (1940s). Although he identifies a “lifecycle” to this terminology that appears to reemerge each decade in a different form, this does not necessarily mean that social software is simply old wine in new bottles.

Early manifestations of social software in early Internet apps for communication and collaboration such as email, newsgroups, groupware, virtual communities and the like and point out its augmentation capabilities. In the next phase, influences of academic experiments, Social Constructivism, and the open source software movement. In the current phase, these collaborative tools add a capability “that aggregates the actions of networked users”. This points to a powerful dynamic that distinguishes social software from other group collaboration tools and as a component of Web 2.0 technology. Capabilities for content and behavior aggregation and redistribution present some of the more important potentials of this media.

In 1945 Vannevar Bush describes a hypertext-like device called the "memex".

In 1962 Douglas Engelbart publishes his seminal work, "Augmenting Human Intellect: a conceptual framework". In this paper, he proposes using computers to augment training. With his colleagues at the Stanford Research Institute, Engelbart started to develop a computer system to augment human abilities, including learning. The system was simply called the oNLine System (NLS), and it debuted in 1968.

The initial concept of a global information network should be given to J.C.R. Licklider in his series of memos entitled "On-Line Man Computer Communication”, written in August of 1962. However, the actual development of the internet must be given to Lawrence G. Roberts of MIT.

In 1971 the MITRE Corporation begins a year-long demonstration of the TICCIT system among Reston, Virginia cable television subscribers. Interactive television services included informational and educational demonstrations using a touch-tone telephone. The National Science Foundation refunds the PLATO project and funds MITRE's proposal to modify its TICCIT technology as a computer-assisted instruction (CAI) system to support English and algebra at community colleges. MITRE subcontracts instructional design and courseware authoring tasks to the University of Texas at Austin and Brigham Young University. Also this year Ivan Illich describes computer-based "learning webs" in his book Deschooling Society .

Seymour Papert at MIT publishes "Mindstorms: children, computers, and powerful ideas" in 1980. (New York: Basic Books). This book inspired a number of books and dissertations on "microworlds" and their impact on learning. BITNET, founded by a consortium of US and Canadian universities, allowed universities to connect with each other for educational communications and e-mail. At its peak in 1991, it had over 500 organizations as members and over 3000 nodes. Its use declined as the World Wide Web grew.

In 1986 Tony Bates publishes "Computer Assisted Learning or Communications: Which Way for Information Technology in Distance Education?", Journal of Distance Education/ Revue de l'enseignement a distance, reflecting (in 1986!) on ways forward for e-learning, based on 15 years of operational use of computer networks at the Open University and nine years of systematic R&D on CAL, viewdata/videotex, audio-graphic teleconferencing and computer conferencing. Many of the systems specification issues discussed later are rehearsed here.

The first version of CSILE installed on a small network of Cemcorp ICON computers at an elementary school in Toronto, Canada. CSILE included text and graphical notes authored by several kinds of users (students, teachers, others) with attributes such as comments and thinking types which reflect the role of the note in the author's thinking. Thinking types included "my theory", "new information", and "I need to understand". CSILE later evolved into Knowledge Forum.

In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee, then a young British engineer working at CERN in Switzerland, circulated a proposal for an in-house online document sharing system which he described as a "web of notes with links". After the proposal was grudgingly approved by his superiors, he called the new system the World Wide Web.

CAPA (Computer Assisted Personalized Approach) system was developed at Michigan State University was developed in 1992. It was first used in a small (92 student) physics class in the Fall of 1992. Students accessed randomized (personalized) homework problems through telnet.

In 2001 Ryze founded by Adrian Scott. In April 2002 Jonathan Abrams creates his profile on Friendster.

2003 introduced the world to the launches of Hi5, LinkedIn, and MySpace. Facebook was launched in February 2004.

Levin (in Allen 2004, sec. 2000s) acknowledges that many of characteristics of social software (hyperlinks, Weblog conversation discovery, and standards-based aggregation) “build on older forms”; nevertheless, “the difference in scale, standardization, simplicity, and social incentives provided by Web access turn a difference in degree to a difference in kind.” Key technological factors underlying this difference in kind in the computer, network, and information technologies are: filtered hypertext, ubiquitous Web/computing, continuous Internet connectivity, cheap, efficient and small electronics, content syndication strategies (RSS), and others. Additionally, the convergence of several major information technology systems for voice, data, and video into a single system makes for expansive computing environments with far reaching effects.

In October 2005, Marc Andreessen (after Netscape and Opsware) and Gina Bianchini co-founded Ning: an online platform for users to create their own social websites and social networks. Ning means "peace" in Chinese, as explained by Gina Bianchini on the company blog, & is now running more than 275,000 networks. Ning is part of what is called "white label social networking providers" and it is offen compare to Kickapps, Brightcove,rSitez and Flux.

Social software may be better understood as a set of debates or design choices than any particular list of tools. Broadly conceived, there are many older media such as mailing lists and Usenet fora that qualify as "social". Most users of this term, however, restrict its meaning to more recent software genres such as blogs and wikis. Others suggest that the term social software is best used not to refer to a single type of software, but rather to the use of two or more modes of computer-mediated communication that result in "community formation". In this view, people form online communities by combining one-to-one (e.g., email and instant messaging), one-to-many (Web pages and blogs), and many-to-many (wikis) communication modes.. Some groups schedule real life meetings and so become physically "real" communities of people that share physical lives.

Common to most definitions of social software, is the observation that some types of software seem to facilitate a more egalitarian and meritocratic "bottom-up" community development, in which membership is voluntary, reputations are earned by winning the trust of other members, and the community's mission and governance are defined by the communities' members themselves.

Communities formed by "bottom-up" processes are often contrasted to the less vibrant collectivities formed by "top-down" software, in which users' roles are determined by an external authority and circumscribed by rigidly conceived software mechanisms (such as access rights). Given small differences in policies, very similar software can produce radically different social outcomes. For instance, TikiWiki CMS/Groupware has a fine-grained permission system of detailed access control so the site administrator can, on a page by page basis, determine which groups can view, edit or view the history. By contrast, mediawiki avoids per-user controls, to keep most pages editable by most users, and puts more information about users currently editing in its recent changes pages. The result is that TikiWiki can be both used by community groups which embrace the social paradigm of mediawiki, or for groups which prefer having more content control.

Social software, by design, reflects the traits of social networks and is designed very consciously to let social network analysis work with a very compatible database. All social software systems create links between users, as persistent as the identity those users choose. Through these persistent links, a permanent community can be formed out of a formerly epistemic community. The ownership and control of these links - who is linked, and who isn't - is in the hands of the user. Thus, these links are asymmetrical - you might link to me, but I might not link to you. Also, these links are functional, not decorative - you can choose not to receive any content from people you are not connected to, for example. Wikipedia user pages are a very good example, and often contain extremely detailed information about the person who constructed them, including everything from mother tongue to their moral purchasing preferences.

In late 2008, independent analyst firm CMS Watch argued that a scenario-based (use-case) approach to examining social software provides a useful way to evaluate tools and align business and technology needs. .

The tools used in social software applications include communication tools and interactive tools. Communication tools typically handle the capturing, storing, and presentation of communication, usually written but increasingly including audio and video also. Interactive tools handle mediated interactions between a pair or group of users. They differ from communication tools in their focus on establishing and maintaining a connection among users, facilitating the mechanics of conversation and talk. Communication tools are generally asynchronous. Interactive tools are generally synchronous, allowing users to communicate in real time (phone, Net phone, video chat) or near-synchronous (IM, text chat).

We can add to this distinction one that describes the primary user experience of each: communication involves the content of talk, speech, or writing; interaction involves the interest users establish in one another as individuals. In other words, a communication tool may want to make access and searching of text both simple and powerful. An interactive tool may want to present as much of a user's expression, performance, and presence as possible. The organization of texts, and providing access to archived contributions differs from the facilitation of interpersonal interactions between contributors enough to warrant the distinction in media.

An instant messaging application or client allows one to communicate with another person over a network in real time, in relative privacy. Popular, consumer-oriented clients include Gtalk, Skype, Meebo, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger, Pidgin (formerly Gaim) and AOL Instant Messenger. Instant messaging software designed for use in business includes IBM Lotus Sametime, Microsoft Messenger, and Jabber.

One can add friends to a contact or "buddy" list, by entering the person's email address or messenger ID. If the person is online, their name will typically be listed as available for chat. Clicking on their name will activate a chat window with space to write to the other person, as well as read their reply.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and other online chat technologies allow users to join chat rooms and communicate with many people at once, publicly. Users may join a pre-existing chat room or create a chat room about any topic. Once inside, you may type messages that everyone else in the room can read, as well as respond to messages from others. Often there is a steady stream of people entering and leaving. Whether you are in another person's chat room, or one you've created yourself, you are generally free to invite others online to join you in that room. Instant messaging facilitates both one-to-one (communication) and many-to-many interaction.

Originally modeled after the real-world paradigm of electronic bulletin boards of the world before Internet was born, internet forums allow users to post a "topic" for others to review. Other users can view the topic and post their own comments in a linear fashion, one after the other. Most forums are public, allowing anybody to sign up at any time. A few are private, gated communities where new members must pay a small fee to join, like the Something Awful Forums.

Forums can contain many different categories in a hierarchy according to topics and subtopics. Other features include the ability to post images or files or the ability to quote another user's post with special formatting in one's own post. Forums often grow in popularity until they can boast several thousand members posting replies to tens of thousands of topics continuously.

There are various standards and claimants for the market leaders of each software category. Various add-ons may be available, including translation and spelling correction software, depending on the expertise of the operators of the bulletin board. In some industry areas, the bulletin board has its own commercially successful achievements: free and paid hardcopy magazines, professional and amateur sites.

Current successful services have combined new tools with the older newsgroup and mailing list paradigm to produce hybrids like Yahoo! Groups and Google Groups. Also as a service catches on, it tends to adopt characteristics and tools of other services that compete. Over time, for example, wiki user pages have become social portals for individual users and may be used in place of other portal applications.

Blogs, short for web logs, are like online journals for a particular person. The owner will post a message periodically, allowing others to comment. Topics often include the owner's daily life, views on politics or a particular subject important to them.

Blogs mean many things to different people, ranging from "online journal" to "easily updated personal website." While these definitions are technically correct, they fail to capture the power of blogs as social software. Beyond being a simple homepage or an online diary, some blogs allow comments on the entries, thereby creating a discussion forum. They also have blogrolls (i.e., links to other blogs which the owner reads or admires), and indicate their social relationship to those other bloggers using the XFN social relationship standard. Pingback and trackback allow one blog to notify another blog, creating an inter-blog conversation. Blogs engage readers and can build a virtual community around a particular person or interest. Examples include Slashdot, LiveJournal, BlogSpot. Blogging has also become fashionable in business settings, by companies who use software such as IBM Lotus Connections.

Simultaneous editing of a text or media file by different participants on a network was first demonstrated on research systems as early as the 1970s but is now practical on a global network. SubEthaEdit, SynchroEdit, ACE, Moonedit are examples of this type of social software. Google Docs & Spreadsheets and Zoho allow for joint editing, but other users will only see changes after saving.

Many prediction market tools have become available (including some free software) that make it easy to predict and bet on future events. This a more formal version of social interaction, but it nonetheless qualifies as a robust type of social software.

Social network services allow people to come together online around shared interests, hobbies, or causes. For example, some sites provide dating services where users post personal profiles, locations, ages, gender, etc, and are able to search for a partner. Other services enable business networking (Ryze, XING, and LinkedIn) and social event meetups (Meetup).

Some large wikis effectively become social network services by encouraging user pages and portals.

Anyone can create their own social networking service using hosted offerings like Ning or rSitez, or more flexible, installable software like Elgg.

Lacking trustworthy explicit information about such viewpoints, this type of social network search engine mines the web to infer the topology of online social networks. For example, the NewsTrove search engine infers social networks from content - sites, blogs, pods, and feeds - by examining, among other things, subject matter, link relationships, and grammatical features to infer social networks.

Deliberative social networks are webs of discussion and debate for decision-making purposes. They are built for the purpose of establishing sustained relationships between individuals and their government. They rely upon informed opinion and advice that is given with a clear expectation of outcomes.

Commercial social networks are designed to support business transaction and to build a trust between an individual and a brand, which relies on opinion of product, ideas to make the product better, enabling customers to participate with the brands in promoting development, service delivery, and a better customer experience.. an example of these networks is Dell IdeaStorm.

A social guide recommending places to visit or contains information about places in the real world such as coffee shops, restaurants, and wifi hotspots, etc. One such application is WikiTravel.

Some Web sites allow users to post their list of bookmarks or favorites websites for others to search and view them. These sites can also be used to meet others sharing common interests. Examples include digg, del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, reddit, Netvouz, and furl.

In Social cataloging much like social bookmarking, this software is aimed towards academics, and allows the user to post a citation for an article found on the internet or a website, online database like Academic Search Premier or LexisNexis Academic University, a book found in a library catalog, and so on. These citations can be organized into predefined categories or a new category defined by the user through the use of tags. This allows academics researching or interested in similar areas to connect and share resources. Examples for those services include CiteULike, Connotea, BibSonomy and refbase.

This applications allows visitors to keep track of their collectibles, books, records, and DVDs. Users can share their collections. Recommendations can be generated based on user ratings, using statistical computation and network theory. Some sites offer a buddy system, as well as virtual "check outs" of items for borrowing among friends. Folksonomy or tagging is implemented on most of these sites. Examples include discogs.com, imdb.com and LibraryThing.

Social online storage applications allow their users to collaboratively create file archives containing files of any type. Files can either be edited online or from a local computer which has access to the storage system. Such systems can be built upon existing server infrastructure (e.g. GDrive) or leverage idle resources by applying P2P technology (e.g. Wuala). Such systems are social because they allow for public file distribution and direct file sharing with friends.

Virtual Worlds are services where it is possible to meet and interact with other people in a virtual environment reminiscent of the real world. Thus the term virtual reality. Typically, the user manipulates an avatar through the world, interacting with others using chat or voice chat.

MMOGs are virtual worlds that add various sorts of point systems, levels, competition, and winners and losers to virtual world simulation. Commercial MMOGs (or, more accurately, massively multiplayer online role-playing games or MMORPGs,) include Everquest and World of Warcraft. The Dotsoul Cyberpark is one of the more innovative non-commercial worlds, with the look and feel of Second Life and Active Worlds, but an adamantly anti-corporate stance. Other open-source and experimental examples include Planeshift, Croquet project, VOS and Solipsis.

Another development are the worlds that are less game-like, or not games at all. Games have points, winners, and losers. Instead, some virtual worlds are more like social networking services like MySpace and Facebook, but with 3D simulation features. Examples include Second Life, ActiveWorlds, The Sims Online, and There.

Very often a real economy emerges in these worlds, extending the non-physical service economy within the world to service providers in the real world. Experts can design dresses or hairstyles for characters, go on routine missions for them, and so on, and be paid in game money to do so. This emergence has resulted in expanding social possibility and also in increased incentives to cheat. In the case of Second Life, the in-world economy is one of the primary features of the world.

There are many other applications with social software characteristics that facilitate human connection and collaboration in specific contexts. Project management and e-learning applications are among these.

Various analyst firms have attempted to list and categorize the major social software vendors in the marketplace. Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester Research has listed fifty "community software" platforms. Independent analyst firm CMS Watch has categorized what it calls "the 30 most significant" Social Software vendors, which it evaluates head-to-head.

Emerging technological capabilities to more widely distribute hosting and support much higher bandwidth in real time are bypassing central content arbiters in some cases.

A hybrid of web-based social networks, instant messaging technologies and peer-to-peer connectivity and file sharing, peer-to-peer social networks generally allow users to share blogs, files (especially photographs) and instant messages. Some examples are imeem, SpinXpress, Bouillon, Wirehog, and Soulseek. Also, Groove, WiredReach and Kerika have similar functionality, but with more of a work-based, collaboration bias.

Widely viewed, virtual presence means being present via intermediate technologies, usually radio, telephone, television, or the internet. In addition, it can denote apparent physical appearance, such as voice, face, and body language.

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Source : Wikipedia