Definition of Social Software

While on a call today with a group, John Smith suggested a definition of Social Software that I love.
John said: “Social software is software that is no fun to experiment with by yourself.”

That to me is perfect! Who wants to join Facebook, but have no friends? What good is photo sharing if you have no one to share it with. You might as well just make a backup CD. Why listen to Last.FM or put your play lists into iLike if you don’t get recommendations back?

When someone asks me for a definition in the future, this is it. Thanks, John. 


2 responses to “Definition of Social Software”

  1. A Definition of Social Software…

    Howard Greenstein loves John Smith’s definition of social software:

    “Social software is software that is no fun to experiment with by yourself.”

    Not sure I agree. Joshua Porter’s ‘Common Pitfalls of Building Social Web A…

  2. Howard Avatar

    (cross posted at Niall’s site as well). Interesting way to frame it, Niall. Thanks for pointing out Joshua Porter’s article – very useful.

    It’s true that a site like Delicious is useful even without others, and that helped it avoid the cold-start problem.

    But the ones I mentioned as examples are ones that truly are no fun without friends (as currently structured). I’ve discussed Facebook with some of my 40-something contemporaries who bemoan the lack of ‘anything to do’ on Facebook. They don’t get it, and in some cases they’re right. But what they mean is there’s no one to play with (that they know of), or they’re not interested in the time-spending/wasting, flirty type stuff the teens and 20-somethings will participate in. The sites like Facebook will have to grow in usefulness for them in order to be of value, and that means either apps for the individual, or friend/relationship management becomes easier.

    For that matter, and since you focus on Enterprise 2.0, CRM seems to be an application you can look at in 2 ways. If you don’t have contacts, you don’t need to manage them, so it is not ‘social.’ If you do, does it become social software? No, if you’re not sharing the contacts? Or yes, because it lets you manage relationships and adds value to your business? I’m still thinking about it.
    Thanks for commenting.