This evening seminar will chart the rise of social software and examine how these technologies might be employed in a commercial and business context.
Blogs have put social software in the news again. Big players such as Google and AOL are buying into the technology, and they're not the only ones trying to find commercial applications for software that supports group interaction.
All pivotal internet technologies move from being the preserve of a small, committed, technically literate subculture towards mainstream cultural acceptance and commercial exploitation. With over a million users and rising, blogs are well on their way along this road.
But can social software realistically be employed to serve commercial ends - or does it, by its very nature, resist being harnessed in this way?
And if social software - such as weblogs, wikis, online networks and communities - does have a place in business, what is it? Could combinations of lightweight, readily available applications come to replace expensive corporate knowledge management systems and enterprise software, for example? Or introduce new business models for the publishing industry?
The presentations, questions and discussion will be followed by drinks and networking.
Will Davies, Senior Researcher,
William works in the research team at The Work Foundation on the iSociety programme. He specialises in social capital and network theory, social software, and the ways in which membership associations can benefit from these, in particular, unions and professional associations. In May 2003, he published an iSociety report, 'You Don't Know Me, But...: Social Capital and Social Software', exploring uses for the internet in supporting social networks. He was recently the lead contributor to a collection of essays, The Professionals Choice - The Future of the Built Environment Professions.
Lee Bryant, Director, Headshift (www.headshift.com)
Lee Bryant is a founding Director of Headshift - a specialist Internet consulting firm with a focus on the social impact of information and communication technologies. He has seven years experience of building and managing successful businesses in this sector, during which time he has managed a number of award-winning projects for both public and private sector organisations. He is passionate about using technology to facilitate self-representation, and has been programming computers since he was 10 years old. Lee is also the author of 'Smarter, Simpler, Social', a paper providing an overview of the development of social software.
Louise Ferguson, Digital Habitats (www.louiseferguson.com)
Louise Ferguson is a technologist and user experience consultant, with an academic background is in human-computer interaction and computer-supported cooperative working. She is on the board of the UK Usability Professionals' Association and co-leads the UPA's international voting and usability project. She has been involved in designing systems since she left university in the 1980s and has wide-ranging professional experience, from researching what environmental pressure groups and scientists want from oil company websites to conducting ethnographic research into employees' experience of collaborative systems in a range of public and private sector contexts. She takes a particular interest in how we can best make use of the "things that make us smart" or "cognition in the wild". Louise has recently launched her own firm, Digital Habitats.