Glossary

Adapted from http://socialmedia.wikispaces.com/A‑Z+of+social+media
(The content here is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License which means you are welcome to copy and rework it — provided you give an attribution and attach a similar license.)

Aggregation is the process of gathering and remixing content from blogs and other websites that provide RSS feeds. The results may be displayed in an aggregator website like Bloglines or Google Reader, or directly on your desktop using software often also called a newsreader.

Alerts: search engines allow you to specify words, phrases or tags that you want checked periodically, with results of those searches returned to you by email. You may also be able to read the searches by RSS feed. This form of search allows you to check whether you, your organization, your blog or blog item has been mentioned elsewhere, and so to respond if you wish.

Asynchronous communications are independent of time or place, and messages go to and fro rather than appearing in one place at almost the same time (synchronous communication). Examples of asynchronous communication are email lists, bulletin boards and forums.

An archive may refer to topics from an online discussion that has been closed but saved for later reference. On blogs, archives are collections of earlier items usually organized by week or month. You may still be able to comment on archived items.

Authenticity is the sense that something or someone is “real”. Blogs enable people to publish content, and engage in conversations, that show their interests and values, and so help them develop an authentic voice online.

Avatars are graphical images representing people. They are what you are in virtual worlds. You can build a visual character with the body, clothes, behaviours, gender and name of your choice. This may or may not be an authentic representation of yourself.

Blogs are websites with dated items of content in reverse chronological order, self-published by bloggers. Items – sometimes called posts — may have keyword tags associated with them, are usually available as feeds, and often allow commenting.

Blogosphere is the term used to describe the totality of blogs on the Internet, and the conversations taking place within that sphere.

A blogroll is a list of sites displayed in the sidebar of blog, showing who the blogger reads regularly.

Bookmarking is saving the address of a website or item of content, either in your browser, or on a social bookmarking site like del.icio.us. If you add tags, others can easily use your research too, and the social bookmarking site becomes an enormous public library. If groups agree the tags they’ll use, it makes collaborative research much easier.

Bulletin boards were the early vehicles for online collaboration, where users connected with a central computer to post and read email-like messages. They were the electronic equivalent of public notice boards. The term is still used for forums.

Champions: in order to get conversations started in an online community, you need a group of enthusiasts willing and confident to get things moving by posting messages, responding, and helping others.

Chat is interaction on a web site, with a number of people adding text items one after the other into the same space at (almost) the same time. A place for chat – chat room – differs from a forum because conversations happen in “real time”, rather as they do face to face.

Collaboration: social media tools from email lists to virtual worlds offer enormous scope for collaboration. Low-risk activities like commenting, social bookmarking, chatting and blogging help develop the trust necessary for collaboration.

Collective intelligence has been defined by George Pór as the capacity of a human community to evolve toward higher order complexity thought, problem-solving and integration through collaboration and innovation. For a network to develop this “mind of its own” there needs to be a willingness among members to share and collaborate. Collective intelligence is not the same as the Wisdom of Crowds, where individual preferences and decisions may aggregate to produce better results without people consciously collaborating. The latter is more market oriented, the former more cooperative.

Comments: blogs may allow readers to add comments under items, and may also provide a feed for comments as well as for main items. That mean you can keep up with conversations without having to revisit the site to check whether anything has been added.

Commitment: the “social” aspect of social media means that tools are most useful when other people commit to using them too. Commitment will depend on people’s degree of interest in a subject, capability online, preparedness to share with others, degree of comfort in a new place, as well as the usability of the site or tool. If people are passionate about a subject and desperate to share and research, they will usually clamber over technical problems. But making things technically easier — while desirable — won’t usually gain people’s commitment on its own.

Online communities are groups of people communicating mainly through the Internet. While communities do emerge organically, some community-building is necessary if there are specific goals to achieve.

Community building is the process of recruiting potential community or network participants, helping them to find shared interests and goals, use the technology, and develop useful conversations. A number of different roles may be involved.

An online conference is what happens in a forum: it is the conversations of those involved, organized around topics, threads, and a theme or subject.

Content is used here to describe text, pictures, video and any other meaningful material that is on the Internet.

Control: social networking is difficult to control because if people can’t say something in one place they can blog or comment elsewhere. That can be challenging for hierarchical organizations used to centrally-managed websites.

Conversation through blogging, commenting or contributing to forums is the currency of social networking. The real rewards of blogging come from exchanges with others. Every blogger needs an audience — and preferably one adding comments.

Copyright: sharing through social media is enhanced by attaching a Creative Commons license specifying, for example, that content may be re-used with attribution, provided that a similar license is then attached by the new author. The Creative Commons site offers different licenses. One frequently used is Attribution-ShareAlike, whereby you can alter and re-use the content provided you then add the same license. This may not appeal to people or organizations who like substantial control.

Crowdsourcing refers to harnessing the skills and enthusiasm of those outside an organization who are prepared to volunteer their time contributing content and solving problems.

Cyberspace has been widely used as a general term for the Internet or World Wide Web. More recently blogosphere has emerged as a term for interconnected blogs.

A facilitator is someone who helps people in an online group or forum manage their conversations. They may help agree a set of rules, draw out topics for discussion, gently keep people on topic, and summarize See also roles.

Feeds are the means by which you can read, view or listen to items from blogs and other RSS-enabled sites without visiting the site, by subscribing and using an aggregator or newsreader. Feeds contain the content of an item and any associated tags without the design or structure of a web page.

Folksonomy: Taxonomies are centralized ways of classifying information — as in libraries. Folksonomies are the way folk create less structured ways of classifying by adding tags.

Forums are discussion areas on websites, where people can post messages or comment on existing messages asynchronously – that is, independently of time or place. Chat is the synchronous equivalent. Before blogs developed, email lists and forums were the main means of conversing online. Forum discussions happen in one place, and so can be managed and facilitated in ways that blog conversations can’t because these are happening in many different places controlled by their authors.

Friends, on social networking sites, are contacts whose profile you link to in your profile. On some sites people have to accept the link, in others, not.

Groups are collections of individuals with some sense of unity through their activities, interests or values. They are bounded: you are in a group, or not. They differ in this from networks, which are dispersed, and defined by nodes and connections. Email lists and forums sit easily with bounded groups, blogs with networks — although the match with tools is not entirely clear-cut. A group may use a blog, and an email list may serve a network.

Instant messaging: (IM) is chat with one other person. using an IM tool like AOL Instant Messenger, Microsoft Live Messenger or Yahoo Messenger. The tools allow you to indicate whether or not you are available for a chat, and if so can be a good alternative to emails for a rapid exchange. Problem arise when people in a group are using different IM tools that don’t connect. One way around this is to use a common Voice over IP tool like Skype that also provides IM

Lurkers are people who read but don’t contribute or add comments to forums. The one per cent rule-of-thumb suggests about one per cent of people contribute new content to an online community, another nine percent comment, and the rest lurk. However, this may not be a passive role because content read on forums may spark interaction elsewhere.

A newsreader is a website or desktop tool that act as an aggregator, gathering content from blogs and similar sites using RSS feeds so you can read the content in one place, instead of having to visit different sites.

Open-source software. Wikipedia offers this definition: Open-source software “refers to any computer software whose source code is available under a license that permits users to study, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified form. It is often developed in a public, collaborative manner”. See also openness

Participation — or participatory — culture is used to described a way of doing things in which people use social media to share and collaborate. Using social media certainly opens up more and more ways to do that. It may encourage openness and transparency. However, the tools do not on their own create a participatory culture, because people are unlikely to commit to using them unless they are that way inclined in the first place.

Permalink is the address (URL) of an item of content, for example a blog post, rather than the address of a web page with lots of different items. You will often find it at the end of a blog post.

Photosharing is uploading your images to a website like Flickr. You can add tags and offer people the opportunity to comment or even re-use your photos if you add an appropriate copyright license.

A podcast is audio or video content that can be downloaded automatically through a subscription to a website so you can view or listen offline.

A post is an item on a blog or forum.

Profiles are the information that you provide about yourself when signing up for a social networking site. As well as a picture and basic information, this may include your personal and business interests, a “blurb” about yourself, and tags to help people search for like-minded people.

Registration is the process of providing a username, password and other details when seeking to access a website that has restricted access. See logging in.

RSS is short for Really Simple Syndication. This allows you to subscribe to content on blogs and other social media and have it delivered to you through a feed.

Social media is a terms for the tools and platforms people use to publish, converse and share content online. The tools include blogs, wikis, podcasts, and sites to share photos and bookmarks.

Social networking sites are online places where users can create a profile for themselves, and then socialize with others using a range of social media tools including blogs, video, images, tagging, lists of friends, forums and messaging.

Stories, as well as conversations, are a strong theme in blogging. Anecdotes, bits of gossip and longer narratives work particularly well on blogs if they have a personal angle. It helps others get to know the blogger — and helps the blogger find and extend their voice.
Subscribing is the process of adding an RSS feed to your aggregator or newsreader. It’s the online equivalent of signing up for a magazine, but usually free.

Subscribing is the process of adding an RSS feed to your aggregator or newsreader . It’s the online equivalent of signing up for a magazine, but usually free.

Synchronous communications are those occurring in real time, like chat, audio or video. Face-to-face communication is synchronous in the same place. Telephony is synchronous, in different places, The Internet extends the scope for both types of communication.

Tags are keywords attached to a blog post, bookmark, photo or other item of content so you and others can find them easily through searches and aggregation. Tags can usually be freely chosen — and so form part of a folksonomy — while categories are predetermined and are part of a taxonomy.

Taxonomy is an organized way of classifying content, as in a library. Providing contributors to a site with a set of categories under which they can add content is offering a taxonomy. Allowing people to add their own keywords is to endorse folksonomy.

A technology steward is someone who can facilitate community and network development. Nancy White offers the definition: “Technology stewards are people with enough experience of the workings of a community to understand its technology needs, and enough experience with technology to take leadership in addressing those needs. Stewardship typically includes selecting and configuring technology, as well as supporting its use in the practice of the community”.

Terms of services are the basis on which you agree to use a forum or other web-based place for creating or sharing content. Check before agreeing what rights the site owners may claim over your content.

Threads are strands of conversation. On an email list or web forum they will be defined by messages that use the use the same subject. On blogs they are less clearly defined, but emerge through comments and trackbacks.

Trackback: some blogs provide a facility for other bloggers to leave a calling card automatically, instead of commenting. Blogger A may write on blog A about an item on blogger B’s site, and through the trackback facility leave a link on B’s site back to A. The collection of comments and trackbacks on a site facilitates conversations.

Transparency: Enhancing searching, sharing, self-publish and commenting across networks makes it easier to find out what’s going on in any situation where there is online activity.

Troll: A hurtful but possibly valuable loser who, for whatever reason, is both obsessed by and constantly annoyed with, and deeply offended by everything you write on your blog. You may be able to stop them commenting on your blog, but you can’t ban them from commenting on other sites and pointing back to your blog, and you can’t ban them from posting things on their own blog that point back to your site.

To upload is to transfer a file or other content from your computer to an Internet site.

URL: Unique Resource Locator is the technical term for a web address like http://www.bbc.co.uk

User generated content is text, photos and other material produced by people who previously just consumed. See content.

Video: Many digital cameras and mobile phones take videos good enough to view on the Net. Sites like YouTube and blip.tv now make it easy to open an account, upload and share your videos. These sites will also provide some unique code for each video so you can, if you wish, embed the video in a blog post. Short interviews that “capture the moment” work well, particularly if you provide a text summary so people can easily decide whether or not to view. However, check whether the audience you are aiming at is likely to have a fast enough connection, and up to date browser, to view your video easily.

Virtual worlds are online places like Second Life, where you can create a representation of yourself (an avatar) and socialize with other residents. Basic activity is free, but you can buy currency (using real money) in order to purchase land and trade with other residents. Second Life is being used by some voluntary organizations to run discussions, virtual events and fundraising.

Web 2.0 is a term coined by O’Reilly Media in 2004 to describe blogs, wikis, social networking sites and other Internet-based services that emphasize collaboration and sharing, rather than less interactive publishing (Web 1.0). It is associated with the idea of the Internet as platform.

Web-based tools: Google, Yahoo and a host of other commercial organizations provide an increasing range of free or low-cost tools including email, calendars, word processing, and spreadsheets that can be used on the web rather than your desktop. Provided you are happy to entrust your data to these organizations — and are always online when working — you can reduce your software costs significantly and forget about upgrades.

Widgets are a stand-alone applications you can embed in other applications, like a website or a desktop, or view on its own on a PDA. These may help you to do things like subscribe to a feed, do a specialist search, or even make a donation.

Whiteboards online are the equivalent of glossy surfaces where you can write with an appropriate marker pen and wipe off later. They are tools that enable you to write or sketch on a web page, and as such are useful in collaboration online.

Wiki is a web page — or set of pages — that can be edited collaboratively. The best known example is wikipedia, an encyclopedia created by thousands of contributors across the world. Once people have appropriate permissions — set by the wiki owner — they can create pages and/or add to and alter existing pages. Wikis are a good way for people to write a document together, instead of emailing files to and fro.