What is Social Computing?

The social potential of computer networks has come to the fore through the rapid development of such network applications as wikis, blogs, social networking sites, social bookmarking sites, and online collaborative editing suites that encourage people to engage in collective resource-building, action, and work. But most of the focus in industry and the academy has been on discrete technologies, applications, protocols, and interfaces (e.g., Facebook, Wikipedia, Flickr, blogs, etc.). When the overall relations between particular technologies and particular social phenomena are addressed at all, they have usually been generalized under such catch-all concepts as “Web 2.0” or “the wisdom of crowds.”

In fact, a whole new field of integrated, interdisciplinary research in digital media has emerged that requires innovative thinking across the disciplines of engineering, computer science, social science, the humanities, and the arts. This new field is social computing.

Definition: Social computing is the use of technology in networked communication systems by communities of people for one or more goals.

— From the working papers of the UCSB Social Computing Group.