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Recent Trends and Developments in Social Software: International Conferences on Social Software

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From its beginnings, the Internet has fostered communication, collaboration and networking between users. However, the first boom at the turn of the millennium was mainly driven by a rather one-sided interaction: e-commerce, portal sites and the broadcast models of mainstream media were introduced to theWeb. Over the last six or seven years, new tools and practices have emerged which emphasise the social nature of computer-mediated interaction. Commonly (and broadly) labeled as social software and social media, they encompass applications such as blogs and microblogs, wikis, social networking sites, real-time chat systems, and collaborative classification systems (folksonomies). The growth and diffusion of services like Facebook and Twitter and of systems likeWordPress and Drupal has in part been enabled by certain innovative principles of software development (e.g. open APIs, open-source projects, etc.), and in part by empowering the individual user to participate in networks of peers on different scales.

Every year, the International Conference on Social Software (BlogTalk) brings together different groups of people using and advancing the Internet and its usage: technical and conceptual developers, researchers with interdisciplinary backgrounds, and practitioners alike. It is designed to initiate a dialog between users, developers, researchers and others who share, analyse and enjoy the benefits of social software. The focus is on social software as an expression of a culture that is based on the exchange of information, ideas and knowledge. Moreover, we understand social software as a new way of relating people to people and to machines, and vice versa. In the spirit of the free exchange of opinions, links and thoughts, a wide range of participants can engage in this discourse.

BlogTalk enables participants to connect and discuss the latest trends and happenings in the world of social software. It consists of a mix of presentations, panels, face-to-face meetings, open discussions and other exchanges of research, with attendees sharing their experiences, opinions, software developments and tools. Developers are invited to discuss technological developments that have been designed to improve the utilisation of social software, as well as reporting about the current state of their software and projects. This includes new blog and wiki applications, content-creation and sharing environments, advanced groupware and tools, client-server designs, GUIs, APIs, content syndication strategies, devices, applications for microblogging, and much more. Researchers are asked to focus on their visions and interdisciplinary concepts explaining social software including, but not limited to, viewpoints from social sciences, cultural studies, psychology, education, law and natural sciences. Practitioners can talk about the practical use of social software in professional and private contexts, around topics such as communication improvements, easy-to-use knowledge management, social software in politics and journalism, blogging as a lifestyle, etc.

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