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Social Media Terminology starting from “C”
Categories are pre-specified ways to organise content – for example, a set of keywords that you can use but not add to when posting on a site. They form part of a taxonomy.
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.
At greater length: Collaboration is one of the higher goals of social networking – being able to discuss and work with people across boundaries of organisation, time and space. The tools to achieve this extend from email with attachments through web-based workspaces with messaging, file storage, calendars and other tools. With the right equipment and connections you can talk to and see each other, text, sketch and transfer files almost instantly. You can set up a workspace in a virtual world, and collaborate with other avatars. However, the conditions for successful collaboration are more human and cultural than technical, with the bottom line being trust. Bloggers maintain that the conversational and authentic tone of the medium helps create conditions for collaboration. Sharing, commenting, chatting, co-authoring allow low-risk explorations of who you would feel comfortable working with.
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 willingess 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. They may simply have a shared interest to talk about … or more formally learn from each other and find solutions as a Community of Practice. Online communities may use email lists or forums, where content is centralised. Communities may also emerge from conversations around or between bloggers. List or forum-based communities can be difficult to join up with blog-based communities because of the different ways they operate technically. 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, organised around topics, threads, and a theme or subject.
Connections: as high-speed, always-on, broadband connections becomes more widely available, it is easy to forget that the speed and nature of Internet connection available to people on a network will determine what tools they can use. If people are still using slow telephone dialup they may have problems with video and voice over IP. If they don’t have an always-on connection, Web-based tools will be less appealing because work on them can only be done when connected.
Content is used here to describe text, pictures, video and any other meaningful material that is on the Internet.
Content management systems (CMS) are sometime described as the Swiss Army knives of social media. They are software suites offering the ability to create static web pages, document stores, blog, wikis, and other tools. CMSs have the advantage of offering comprehensive solutions – but can be challenging to configure, and each of the different tools may not be quite as good as a stand-along version. Unless you have some technical skills, they are best suited for situations where you can employ a web developer to work with you, and provide some continuing support.
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 organisations used to centrally-managed websites.
Conversation through blogging, commenting or contributing to forums is the currency of social networking.
At more length: A popular perception of bloggers is of people ranting on a virtual soapbox without knowing who is listening. While that may be true for some, the real rewards of blogging come from exchanges with others. Every blogger needs an audience – and preferably one adding comments. Even better if another blogger picks up your item, adds a link and a little interpretation, publishes on their site, and puts a trackback to yours. That way you pick up readers coming in from the other site, and know from the trackback you have someone with whom to start a conversation. Even if there isn’t a trackback, you can set up searches to alert you when someone mentions your name, site or conversation thread on the Net.
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. This work is under that type of license – Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.5 License
At more length: In the spirit of openness and sharing generally prevalent among social networkers, you will often find content labeled with a copyright license that allows you to re-use the material provided you provide an attribution. 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 organisations who like substantial control. Again, it is partly a cultural and personal issue, rather than a technical one.
Crowdsourcing refers to harnessing the skills and enthusiasm of those outside an organisation who are prepared to volunteer their time contributing content and solving problems.
Culture: social media only works well in a culture of openness, where people are prepared to share. For that reason, commitment and attitude are as important as tools. Creative two-way communication and collaboration is unlikely to flourish in an organisation where the norm is top-down control. When people in that sort of culture talk about networking they may have a hub and spokes model in mind, with them having some central control.
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.
Default, in computing, refers to the settings on any device that come “out of the box”. It may be used loosely to suggest “lowest common” … so when trying to set up ways of collaborating online you may hear reference to email-with-attachments as the default. The challenge in social networking is that you may need to move from default mode to something customised to your requirements.