Virtual teams need 'Social Software' as well as 'Groupware'

There is a debate raging (see below) over the blogosphere at the minute about a new type of software - 'social software'. It was fanned about a year ago by an excellent article in Darwin Magazine where Stowe Boyd described "social software" as the "opposite of project oriented collaboration tools".

The article ('Are you ready for social software') suggested that social software primarily supports the desire of individuals to affiliate and network.

He contrasted this with 'groupware' where people have already been placed in formal groups but now need help to collaborate on project work.

In a previous article ("Virtual teamwork, relationships and social network connectivity") I emphasised the importance of internal team relationships ('bonding' social capital) and external team relationships ('bridging' social capital) in making virtually networked teams effective.

Virtual Teams that are too focussed on 'bonding' may produce technically excellent work which nobody outside the team, including their customers, actually value!

Virtual Teams that are too focussed on 'bridging' can be loved by everyone but never actually deliver anything useful!

So to try and move the debate on my input is that, in the context of virtual teams in organisations, we will miss the point if we debate the pros and cons of social software versus groupware as if it was an 'either or' situation.

I predict that as virtual tool developers start to understand the true nature of virtual teams better and particularly their social aspects they will provide new generations of virtual collaboration technology, which will offer the facilities of both social software and groupware in an integrated way.

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When the terms 'social software', 'virtual collaboration technology' and 'groupware' just to name a few, is presented, it all appears to be all 'high tech' initially and i would presume, thus unknowingly that the terms would most likely be related to such things as actual program software material. Rather not! They are just all fancy names, which largely mean the exact same thing and or surrounding the same concept of collaborating in a virtual environment as Dave Winer suggests. The terms presented are very much all interelated on some level which underpin the similar definitions. I think a newer and bigger, so to speak, term is re-created to suggests that approach, although which is slightly altered as a means for people to gain recognition and or accredited in discovering the new term.

I have made reference to your trackback that you had sent me in the above URL. I just thought Id let you know, if you were interested in reading it!

Please feel free to drop by and post a comment or two


Thanks for your interesting comment

I think you are right - the new thing for me is that people are now looking to see how technology can help them with their relationships in work and in their private lives

See also my article

"Virtual Teamwork, Relationships and Social Network Connectivity"




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