I've just finished writing a glossary of social media aimed at helping non-techies understand terms that enthusiasts take for granted, like blog, wiki, tag, podcast, feed - and also thrown in some interpretation of why common words like conversation, culture, openness have particular importance.
You can read the short version in the continuation of this post, and also here.
However, the longer version here may be of more interest to those more familiar with social media ... and I would really welcome any comments and/or additions you can offer in the discussion tab. I'm grateful in particular to Nancy White, Alexandra Samuel and Michele Martin for covering some of the ground before ... but all mistakes and misinterpretations are mine.
I've written a number of other glossaries or A-Zs (links below) and always find the task a mixture of tedium (making sure the main terms are covered) and self-generating creativity. As soon as I start on one term, with a mix of definition and (I hope) useful interpretation another related term comes to mind, that requires inclusion, research, or re-interpretation.
The glossary becomes a way of mapping out the field, finding links and key people. I plan to make more use of that research by adding other pages to the social media wiki with a lot of cross-referencing to Michele Martin's Web 2.0 Best practice for nonprofits wiki. We had a great Skype call yesterday - as Michele reports here - and I'll follow up soon with more on that.
The glossary - short or long - is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.5 License so you may use and rework with attribution and similar licensing if you find it useful. If you know of any other similar glossaries, please let me know.
Other A-Z/glossaries I've done:
- A-Z of effective participation (1994)
- A-Z of partnerships and networks (1998)
- A-Z of (non tech) networking (2006)
The latest glossary has been developed with funding from the NCVO ICT Foresight Unit. Thanks to Megan Griffith and Karl Wilding for that, and their continuing encouragement. There'll shortly be a report from Megan on what social networking and social media may mean for UK voluntary and community organisations.
This glossary is under development. For the latest version visit the social media wiki page
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 directly on your desktop using software often also called a newsreader.
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 develop an authentic voice online.
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.
Bookmarking is saving the address of a website or item of content, either in your brower, or on a social bookmarking site like del.icio.us. If you add tags, others can easily use your research too
A browser is the tool used to view websites, and access all the content available there onscreen or by downloading. Browsers may also be used to upload or otherwise contribute content to a blog or other website.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 organisations used to centrally-managed websites.
Conversation through blogging, commenting or contributing to forums is the currency of social networking.
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.
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.
To download is to retrieve a file or other content from an Internet site to your computer or other device. See Upload.
Email lists, or groups, are important networking tools offering the facility to “starburst” a message from a central postbox to any number of subscribers, and for them to respond. Lists usually also offer a facility for reading and replying through a web page - so they can also operate like forums.
Face-to-face (f2) is used to describe people meeting offline. While social media may reduce the need to meet, direct contact gives far more clues, quickly, about a person than you can get online. Online interaction is likely to be richer after f2f meetings.
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.
Forums are discussion areas on websites, where people can post messages or comment on existing messages asynchronously – that is, independently of time or place time. Chat is the synchronous equivalent.
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.
Instant messaging (IM) is chat with one other person.
Links are the highlighted text or images that, when clicked, jump you from one web page or item of content to another. Bloggers use links a lot when writing, to reference their own or other content.
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.
Membership involves belonging to a group. Networking can offer some of the benefits of group membership, without the need for as much central co-ordination. A rise in networking may present challenges for organisations who depend on membership for funds or to demonstrate their credibility.
Networks are structures defined by nodes and the connections between them. In social networks the nodes are people, and the connections are the relationships that they have. Networking is the process by which you develop and strengthen those relationships.
Newsreader See aggregator.
Online means being connected to the Internet, and also being there in the sense of reading or producing content.
Offline means not online, that is, not connected to the Internet. It may refer to an unconnected computer, or activities taking place without the benefit (or perhaps distraction) of a connection.
Openness is being prepared to share and collaborate – something aided by social media. Open source software - developed collaboratively with few constraints on its use - is a technical example. In order to be open online you may offer share-alike copyright licenses, and you may tag content and link generously to other people's content. This demonstrates open source thinking.
Peer-to-peer refers to direct interaction between two people in a network. In that network, each peer will be connected to other peers, opening the opportunity for further sharing and learning.
A platform is the framework or system within which tools work. That platform may be as broad as mobile telephony, or as narrow as a piece of software that has different modules like blogs, forums, and wikis in a suite of tools. As more and more tools operate "out there" on the web, rather than on your desktop, people refer to "the Internet as the platform.
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.
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.
Remixing: social media offers the possibility of taking different items of content, identified by tags and published through feeds, and combining them in different ways. You can do this with other people's content if they add an appropriate copyright license.
Roles: parties need hosting, committees need chairing, working groups may need facilitation. Online networks and communities need support from people who may be called, for example, technology stewards or network weavers. Champions are the core group of enthusiasts you need to start a community.
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.
Searching for information on the Net is done using a search engine, of which Google is the best known. Specialist search engines like Technorati concentrate on blogs. As well as searching by word or phrase you can search on tags, and so find content others have keyworded.
Sharing is offering other people the use of your text, images, video, bookmarks or other content by adding tags, and applying copyright licenses that encourage use of content.
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 socialise 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.
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.
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.
Tool is used here as shorthand for a software applications on your computer, and also for applications that are Web-based.
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.
To upload is to transfer a file or other content from your computer to an Internet site.
User generated content is text, photos and other material produced by people who previously just consumed. See content.
Virtual worlds are online places like Second Life, where you can create a representation of yourself (an avatar) and socialise 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 organisations to run discussions, virtual events and fundraising.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) enables you to use a computer or other Internet device for phone calls without additional charge.
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 emphasise collaboration and sharing, rather than less interactive publishing (Web 1.0). It is associated with the idea of the Internet as platform.
A 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.