Optimizing Social Software System Design
Collaborative communities are important catalysts of research, economic, and social processes. In these communities, many stakeholders collaborate on joint goals, although often having partially conflicting interests. Examples are research communities, knowledge management teams, innovation platforms, and environmental campaign networks. These communities make use of an ever-widening range of social software tools, including many types of discussion fora, blogs, content management systems, and advanced knowledge analysis and processing tools. These tools increasingly come with Web 2.0 functionalities like tagging and reputation management systems. Collaborative communities are complex and rapidly evolving socio-technical
systems. The design of these systems includes the communal specification of communication and information requirements, as well as the selection, configuration, and linking of the software tools that best satisfy these requirements. Supporting the effective and efficient community-driven design of such complex and dynamic systems is not trivial. To represent and reason about the system design specifications we use con-
ceptual graph theory. We do so because the knowledge representation language of choice must be rich enough to allow the efficient expression of complex definitions. Also, since design specifications derive from complex real-world domains and community members themselves are actively involved in specifi-
cation processes, a close mapping of knowledge definitions to natural language expressions and vice versa is useful. Finally, the representation language must be sufficiently formal and constrained for powerful knowledge operations to be constructed. Conceptual graph theory has all of these properties. In this chapter, we explore how conceptual graphs can be used to:
1. model the core elements of such socio-technical systems and their design processes.