Thursday, June 19, 2008

Social Web Defined

There's lots of talk about social networks like Facebook, social applications like FriendFeed, social computing and the socialization of the Internet.

All of these exist within the world of the "social web".

As I see it, the social web is all about sprinkling "social" magic pixie dust onto every website, yielding something like this:

...where the orange elements in the "Your Website" item represent social applications (ex. a ratings/comments application) that people and their friends interact with. These social applications can/should also be accessible via the big social networks such as Facebook, but that's a topic for a future post, so let's get to a definition.

While the term "social web" is being used more and more, there's not yet a good definition out there. Wikipedia's definition of social web was pretty anemic, so I updated it with the results of the following as well as my thoughts on the 7 Key Attributes of Social Web Applications.

For lack of a good definition, I went through the thought process below to see what I could come up with:

So, my proposal is:
"Social Web is defined as people interlinked and interacting with engaging content in a conversational and participatory manner via the Internet."

These may or not be the right words, but I wanted to start somewhere in order to get the conversation started. My goal is to make it both descriptive and simple. Too many definitions get too deep into the underlying technology or provide comparisons to the semantic web...which is still a fairly esoteric concept for the average person. It should be interesting to see how the definition on Wikipedia evolves over time.

So what do you think? Is the above definition too confusing? Can you come up with something simpler?

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