social computing

Social computing is the collaborative and interactive nature of online behavior. Since the 1990s, computing has increasingly been assumed to be online; simultaneously, online behavior has become increasingly social.

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What is social computing?

Social computing is the collaborative and interactive aspect of online behavior. The term can be understood in contrast to personal computing, which describes the behavior of isolated users.

Elements of social computing include blogs, wikis, Twitter, RSS, instant messaging, multiplayer gaming and open source development, as well as social networking and social bookmarking sites. Social computing is closely related to the concept of Web 2.0, which can be thought of as the framework of applications supporting the processes of social computing.

Social computing within an organization can empower and motivate employees and, as a consequence, create benefit for the business. Paul Galvin explains how, for example, implementing SharePoint can facilitate this process:

When have you ever heard of a CRM system that includes a blogging engine as a core component? Or an ERP system that allows users to share their expertise and knowledge about product management via a community encyclopedia just like a wiki? Those systems don't provide an outlet for that kind of creative energy. As a result, creative energy is left bottled up inside people's heads. SharePoint allows your organization to uncork that energy in a controlled manner.

Businesses can also use social computing to get closer to their customers and promote their brands. Social computing can enhance customer relationship management (CRM) because it allows a business to follow public opinion about its brand and respond quickly to customer issues. Many larger organizations have also started to use crowdsourcing for research. The corporate use of social computing applications is sometimes referred to as Enterprise 2.0.

This was first published in February 2010

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