Organizations have always looked to their IT departments for the expertise and creativity to develop new products and services. However, the productivity of IT teams varies widely, in part because of the vastly differing access to tools and technologies that organizations provide to these workers to support the way in which they work. This fact has serious implications when we consider three major changes now taking place in the as relates to social computing since these changes are increasingly having an impact to the ways people interact with each other.
Therefore, the concept of social computing is of particular interest to this author because “a large number of new applications and ...view middle of the document...
14). Much of this shift to social computing is due to the wide availability of broadband connectivity and more powerful personal computers that social computing has started growing phenomenally. “Collectively, social computing represents the next step in the evolution of the Web, with great potential for social and business impact” (Schneider, 2006, p. 20). Currently, much of the business interest in social online networks is in the fields of content distribution and advertising; however, the potential impact and opportunities for businesses extend far beyond that.
Social computing shifts computing to the edges of the network, and empower individual users with relatively low technological sophistication in using the Web to manifest their creativity, engage in social interaction, contribute their expertise, share content, collectively build new tools, disseminate information and propaganda, and assimilate collective bargaining power. As Turban et al. (20012) suggest, “ the premise of social computing is to make socially produced information available to all” (p. 14). Thus, many organizations will be faced with a shift of market power to networks of consumers that critique their products and express their preferences for changes. “Lightweight computational tools that can be blended together (mashed up) and open source software will allow grassroots innovation that can threaten existing software and launch new business models” (Schneider, 2006, p. 25). Communities formed around specific products can hold a wealth of finely segmented demand information.
The emphasis on lightweight computing tools may be seen as a shift from servers to the edge. This shift is part of a larger trend of empowerment of the edge consequent to broadband connectivity and cheaper, plentiful computing resources at the edge, which is also demonstrated in the growth of P2P networks and applications like Skype, which not only move the content to the edge, but also move much of the communications to the edge as well. Thus we see content, communications, and computing shifting to the edge. Interestingly, these tools lower the barrier to entry for individual users into application development and participation, as well as for small businesses into markets dominated by large software vendors. They share characteristics such as being easy to learn, access to wide range of functionality with library of modules.
“Taken together, the social computing tools and some of the applications and tools that go under the umbrella term of Web 2.0 allow the user to create an information space around him or her” (Schneider, 2006, p. 34). This information space may include content and applications used by him or her, as well as created by him or her; and may span a wide variety of things: e-mail, pictures, journal entries, music, video, contacts, calendar, spreadsheets, podcasts, bookmarks, chat transcripts, location information, or work-related content.