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ro ce
read :
wherein lies
which may result in
and also a few
is for
has as
The design process This same process of change and evolution ap-
plies to the development of design process. To use
‘The design process is the specific series of events, just one example of how design process emerged,
actions or methods by which a procedure or set of Adrian Forty cites Wedgwood in describing how the
procedures are followed, in order to achieve an in- development of technology separated the designer
tended purpose, goal or outcome.’ Best (2006). from the production process. Production activities
The design process consists of a series of activities were stretched and divided into distinct areas, or
and methods which are pulled together in a way processes.
which meets the requirements of a problem or proj-
ect. Though there are similarities which can be seen “The operation of designing thus became not just
across various case studies referenced by academics separate but also geographically removed from the
and practitioners (Clarkson and Eckert (2004), there manufacture of the pots.” Forty.
are in fact many different design processes which
vary depending on the size, scale and nature of the This shift, and division of tasks, naturally resulted in
problem. an increased level of productivity. But while speed-
ing up the Wedgwood’s development process
“Design processes are difficult to standardise, in created an opportunity to increase supply, it also
part because of their iterative, non-linear nature, brought to light the problems of ensuring quality,
and also because the needs of clients and users consistency and timely production. Furthermore,
are so different. In addition, real life, with its chang- an excessive choice of products that could be pro-
ing market conditions and customer preferences, duced, many of which used different manufactur-
is much more dynamic chaotic and fuzzy than any ing techniques, resulted in a considerable expense
standard model can fully accommodate and often, for Wedgwood. This resulted in an eventual down-
stages of the design process overlap.” (Best 2006) turn in profits. A decision was therefore made to
Literature on the design process is vast, yet mostly limit consumer choice and a standard number of
inconclusive. Debate is typically based around the product types were produced with a selection of
activity of defining, developing and monitoring a designs. From Wedgwood we learnt that it was co-
process for design and is largely concerned with ordinating the different aspects of the new process
its management and influence on business perfor- which arose as one of the greatest challenges of
mance. Case studies are often used to illustrate the mass production.
process, demonstrating its clear relevance to busi-
ness practice. Clarkson and Eckert (2004) have writ-This is just one of many examples of how design
ten extensively on the topic of design process and process emerged. This has clear connections to Bau-
have generated a comprehensive review of current haus theories in which form follows function, which
practice and methodologies. was adopted by industrial design. Also, Victor Pap-
anek’s powerful views about the value and impor-
“Despite the extensive research undertaken since tance of design endorsed the systematic approach
the 1950s, there is no single model which is agreed of process.
to provide a satisfactory description of the design
process.” Clarkson and Eckert. ’In this age of mass production when everything
must be planned and designed, design has become
the most powerful tool with which man shapes his
Historical perspectives tools and environments (and by extension, society
and himself )’. Papanek.
The history of design is one of constant evolution.
Originally from craft roots, it developed through the Papanek also references the Bauhaus hailing its suc-
division of labour created by mechanisation, which cess as “...the first school to consider design a vital
gave birth to the role of the industrial designer. Its part of the production process.”
development as a subject, process, activity and busi- So, with its origin in crafts, the design process
ness tool has been heavily documented and debat- sprung from an early movement to define not just
ed in recent years, and case histories demonstrate products, but also the way in which they were pro-
the changing role of design in a business context. duced. Since then, the design process has been ap-
plied to a varied number of scenarios, such
as science, engineering and manufacturing. Archer defined design as employing a combination
However, design itself has progressed and its scope of the intuitive and the cognitive, and therefore at-
has broadened to include disciplines such as inter- tempted to turn the design process into a science
action, experience and service design. Before de- by formalising a creative process. Archer was there-
veloping our conclusions on how this affects the by also trying to formalise the intuitiveness of de-
design process benchmarking study, some detailed sign and the designer, and place their creativity into
examples of the design processes will follow. the context of the production process, including its
external influencers.
Design process methods With the emergence of design methods came the
mapping of the design process, generating models,
The exploration of the design process began to be formulae and diagrams that aimed to illustrate best
taken seriously in the work of the Bauhaus in the practice. In the early days of formalising the design
early 20th century, where attitudes to design were process (the 1960s), it often took on a linear format
radically changed, specifically in industrial design. and featured a series of arrows and boxes, such as
The new approach revolutionised many success the one below by Brian Lawson.vii The design pro-
ful companies and their products as they began to cess began to take on a tangible format and stan-
re-establish themselves on the basis of Bauhaus dard phases such as analysis, evaluation and syn-
theories thesis were associated with the practice of design
for the first time.

These models themselves tell us a great deal about

the design process. They reflect a moment in time

Fig.2 Brian Lawson

and exist to be lived by and improved upon. Design

Fig. 1 Bruce Archer had stepped into the genre of science. Models of
the design process took on their own form and the
Many academics and practitioners have in the past linear format of Archer and Lawson proved to be the
tried to find common paths for the design process. most widely adopted. The linear format remained a
Bruce Archer played a key role in the design meth- consistent feature, with a number of different itera-
ods movement and was instrumental in develop- tions shared among researchers.
ing the discipline of design research. Bruce Archer
published his model of the design process in 1963 However, over the last forty years, business has ac-
as part of a series of articles for Design magazine tively sought to adopt a methodology that acknowl-
(Figure 1). Essentially, the model broke the design edges other competing factors within businesses.
process down into key stages. It was recognised The linear format was criticised for suggesting that
that the sometimes overwhelming weight of design a problem could be solved in one go, so revised
considerations was taking a toll on the flow of cre- models that incorporated loops and iterative phas-
ativity, and a design methods ‘movement’ attempt- es taking wider design and business activities into
ed to make sense of the growing complexity of the account were developed. These models allowed
situation (Archer). Archer wrote Systematic method time to evaluate and test ideas, and also enabled
for designers in the 1960s, compiled from the pa- the designer to consider a number of different ideas
pers he had published. at one time.
The core-based model by Stuart Pugh (left image of social science, marketing and branding. For ex-
in Figure 3) suggests a process of iteration, testing ample, Peter Dormer noted that ‘design was seen to
and evaluation.viii Pugh referred to a ‘design core’ have two separate but related functions: it could be
which consists of activities which he claimed were used strategically by corporations to help plan its
imperative for any design activity ‘irrespective of manufacturing and shape its marketing, and it had
domain’. Figure 3 (right image) is an example of one a more obvious role in making individual products
of these iterative loops that could take place at each attractive to consumers.’ix One key result of this was
of the stages of the core-based model. Furthermore, the increased awareness of the user, and indeed
around the core-based model, there would be a user participation. How and when users are includ-
plethora of other impacting business and design ed in the design of products and services is one of
activities present. the most critical lessons learned.

As such, the core-based model identified differ- Equally, another development is the recognition of
ent aspects of the process and the stages involved. the specific role that the designer plays within the
Models such as this one were used to understand design process. Cooper and Press (1994) recognise
situations, users and activities undertaken and the difference between the process used by the in-
proved very helpful with more complex problems, dividual designer and the design skills they use to
such as in engineering. solve a problem, and the design process as the stra-
tegic planning of product development (Figure 4).
Their model demonstrates
the design process as it oc-
curs from the individual’s
perspective, and describes
their thought process as
they address a problem.
This is often personal and
based on education and

In contrast, on a corpo-
rate level the process has
a much broader scope and
incorporates external fac-
tors such as finance, mar-
keting and tangible mea-
surable aspects of business.
Walker’s model (Figure 5)
refers to the external pro-
ductive process of design
because it reflects two key
activities, namely planning
Fig. 3 Stuart Pugh and production. Consequently, this model succeeds
in reflecting a combination of the corporate design
Pugh focused on a concept called total design which process, and the individual
he believes incorporates everything from the early
identification of market and user need through to
the selling of a product that meets that need.

One of the key outcomes of the development and

formalising of the design process was the emer-
gence of user participation. Given that the role of
the designer had become more widely acknowl-
edged, it grew and stretched, crossing boundaries Fig. 4 Cooper & Press
designer’s process. This more structured methodol-
ogy and process to design activities can help to an-
ticipate problems and manage risk.

Fig. 6 Nigel Cross

Design process as best practice?

Fig. 5 Walker There is already extensive material published on
the best practice of design process. One of the
most recent and comprehensive reviews of design
The design process of today process improvement is by Clarkson and Eckert. xiii
Clarkson and Eckert believe that there is a central
As research has progressed our awareness of design core of generic stages that constitute a common-
as a process has increased. The level of complex- ality between design processes. However, these
ity that occurs within the process is accentuated commonalities are modified and adapted to reflect
by factors such as technology, sustainability, social the problem or user need. These constraints and
responsibility, legislation and so on. It would seem drivers that influence the direction of the design
that as social and cultural boundaries continue to process give the process its project-specific charac-
blur so too do the borders of design as a discipline. teristics (Figure 7).
The boxes have become permeable and the param-
eters pushed. Clarkson and Eckert acknowledge that although
companies are confronted by similar challenges
The design process of today is less scientific. It is and constraints they often deal with them dif-
adapted to meet changing business requirements. ferently. The product has a major impact on the
Our world is evolving so quickly that there may nev- process as does the type, nature and position of
er be an ideal methodology or process. What mat- design within the company.
ters therefore is that a flexible infrastructure is in
place with the foresight and intelligence to respond Best (2006) agrees that although there is no single
quickly and appropriately to creative change. An ex- best practice design process, there are core activi-
ample of this is Nigel Cross’s model below (Figure 6). ties which can be adapted to fit a particular project
In Engineering Design Methods, Cross investigated or situation. Best contends that while there may
and presented theories of how design and engi- be standardised processes that are adopted to
neering could work in partnership. solve design problems, this standardised process is
necessarily adapted to the situation or problem at
hand. She describes this as:
_ ‘Standardised processes that have a defined set of
project steps, a timeframe and a known or expected

_ Customised processes that are more detailed pro-

cesses adapted from standardised models to suit a
particular problem or project’xiv

In order for a company to make amendments and

improvements it needs to understand its own con-
text and define what influences its methods of ap-
proach and design process. To understand a design
process well, the business also needs to understand
its constraints. The external or internal pressures,
challenges and connections on each stage of the
design process (such as budget, technology, leg-
islation, etc.) should be understood. Clarifying the
influence each has on the other will also help to cre-
ate a concise picture.

The general consensus is that there is no set best

practice in design process. However, there is agree-
ment that there are some commonalities across Fig. 7 Clarkson & Eckert
processes used.
Design Research wherein emotions and feelings are allowed their
own intelligence.
As a young linguistics student I would first like to For e.g. today the information or data about EVERY-
clear what design and research mean in context to THING explodes in a frenzy of rhizomatic connec-
this project . tivity, so now the very search for what to research
becomes its own research issue.
Design has many definitions; Charles Eames refers The research model becomes a design problem that
to it as ‘ a plan for arranging elements in such a way can also function as its own solution.
as to best accomplish a a particular purpose “ At the
same time Serges Gagnon infers that “design is the Design Methodologies
cultural appropriation of of technology” . However
a complete and self sufficient definition of DESIGN Design methodologies are the ways in which the
is difficult to conjure., as no single definition could design research is pursued. They can be individual
possibly account for the diversity of inputs and out- or performed in groups but the core of any method-
puts of contemporary design practices. ology is “why, and for whom?”

Research alone as a noun would take us to the study Design methodologies have to be selected very
and analysis of materials , sources& ideologies in or- carefully if one has to achieve concrete results. You
der to establish facts and reach new conclusions. can either follow quantitative or qualitative meth-
Though this is only the tip of the iceberg when the odologies. While can be equally good they can be a
word design is combined with it. great waste of time and money if used for the wrong
There have been numerous attempts at defin-
ing what design research is and how to classify its Here I would like to concentrate on qualitative re-
methodologies right from the Bauhaus movement search methodologies so that we can study this area
to the last time an expert spoke on it. I tend to like in a greater level of detail. The subtypes of method-
what Frayling identifies as three key modes of de- ologies can be put as
sign research;
Research into design Speculative
Research through design Experiential
Research for design Performative
Discovery – led
Research into design is the traditional historical Procedural
and aesthetic studies of art and design. Research
through design is project based and includes ma- And many others ...
terials and development . Research for design is the
hardest to characterize as its purpose is to create
objects and systems that display the results of the
research and then prove its worth
. Focus groups
Also we need new categories of design research be-
cause of the impact of digital technologies on the Traditional focus groups are one of the oldest forms
design discipline over the past 30 years. The com- of qualitative methods where one tries to gain in-
puter democratized the access to the tools of the formation from what the user has to say. Mostly a
professional designer and has since brought about focus group is a gathering of about 10-12 people/
an amazing efflorescence of new styles. customers who are led in a tightly scripted discus-
sion by a trained moderator usually for about 2
Another way of putting design research is to think hours.
about it as research. Design as research uses its own
media to perform the investigations. Design as re- Originally used for any topic or purpose they are
search is a rational practice, but it is one now recommended primarily when you need to
generate ideas or and expand understanding with e. Triads
out needing to reach consensus. Three people who are either similar to each other,
or are different in a special way are interviewed by
Focus groups are a bad choice where your subject is a moderator following an outline or lightly scripted
sensitive or where the responses are related to per- guide.
sonal or professional status. Triads provide a lot more depth than a 1-on-1 inter-
view. Take for example professionals from compa-
Focus groups also tend to have led to several spin- nies varying in size. Then the answers they provide
offs which each have their own strengths and weak- can be seen in comparison, leading to a number of
nesses, some of them are findings usually difficult o find through 1-on-1’s.

a. Mini focus groups f. Party group

A slightly smaller group of people, around 6-8 con- A group of people who are all known to each other
sumers or fewer who are led in a tightly scripted dis- gather together at someones home and spend 2-3
cussion by a trained moderator. Mini focus groups hours conversing with each other and the modera-
are to be treated in more or les the same way as a tor on a chosen topic . Usually the clients are also
normal focus groups. The main difference is that invited so that they get a live demo of what people
you can go for deeper conversations because of the are thinking. Party groups are suited to singular top-
increase time period available per consumer. ics that benefit from deep, thoughtful and candid
b. 1-on -1 interviews
One person interviewed by a researcher following g. Online discussion groups
either a lightly scripted guide or a loose outline. The These take more or less the same rules as normal
interviews can last anything between 20 minutes to versions but are based online on a portal. The ad-
about an hour. 1 on 1 interview is ideal for learning vantages are that the number of people participat-
exactly how a person feels without the influence of ing has virtually no limit as also the time period.
others It can last for anything between a week to several
c. Dyads
Dyads are two friends interviewed by a research-
er following an outline or a lightly scripted guide,
usually for at least one hour. Dyads or friendship
pairs as they are sometimes called are a powerful Ethnography
tool to explore issues that are difficult for people to
articulate or for interviewing people who are not While focus groups were spawning a new range of
comfortable participating in research. For that rea- offspring, other quantitative methods began show-
son, dyad interviews are frequently used with chil- ing up and gaining credence .Thanks to influence
dren and teens. from social scientists, the term “ethnography” start-
ed popping up in design discussionsin late 1980’s.
d. Super Groups. Just exactly what is ethnography? I would
50-100 people are gathered in a large auditorium sum it up as the researchapproach that produces a
to view ideas, products designs or other exhibits detailed, beliefs and preferencesby observing them
presented on a large screen. One or two modera- and interacting with them in a natural environ-
tors lead the group from the stage. Usually respon- ment.
dents are given devices that allow them to respond/ These to are found in many avatars:
rate the things they are shown. Occasionally a se-
lected number of people from these are drawn into a. Field ethnography
breakout sessions for further insight into particular A person ar group of people are observed by a re-
thought groups. searcher while they go about their normal lives.
The duration of these observation can range from
1 hour to several days or week. Field ethnographies
are ideal in early exploratory stages when a-
Film needs to learn more about the people for Ethnography & design
whom they are designing.
Many people identify the work done at xerox parc
b. Digital ethnography and other research labs in early 1980’s as the first
This is a more recent variation on traditional ethnog- use of ethnography in design. While it is true that
raphy ,using digital tools to speed up the process a number of anthropologists were hired by xerox
without compromising on the quality of the work.. and carried out pioneering ethnographic research,
It typically follows a similar approach observing it is important to identify important a few precur-
people as they go about their lives , but uses digital sors to xerox parc’s integration of social science and
cameras, pda’s, laptops, virtual collaborations sites design.
or other technology to record, transmit, edit and
present the information. Broadly speaking, the antecedents to socially ori-
ented design can be traced back to early futurism,
c. Photo ethnography constructirism and the bahaus school. Later, ger-
A person is given a camera (still or video or digital many’s hochschule fiir gerstaltung (hfg) ulm, and
) and asked to capture images of his / her life and the swiss kunstgenerbeschule, basel also produced
describe then with accompnaying notes. The im- influential, socially /scientifically based design
ages are then returned to the researcher who then
reviews them and learns from both the visuals and The introduction of social science theory and ethno-
notes. This approach is highly useful when the pres- graphic methods into the fields of human computer
ence of an ethnographer will drastically of an the interaction and computer supported co-operative
people’s behaviour. work represents a modest highpoint in transdisci-
plinary work(much of it at xerox parc). However in
general the use of sociological and anthropologi-
d. Ethnofuturism cal literature has unfolded in extremely selective
This is a very young but rapidly growing variation ways. Initially, engineers and computer scientists, as
that marries digital ethnography focused on daily opposed to social scientists working in a research
activities and smaller details of cultural signifi- and development setting, borrowed from sociology
cance with a future perspective that look at major and anthropology in course of developing cscw,
trends inflencing and changing culture as a whole . gui’s and tangible computing. Social scientists how-
Its most conductive for technological products that ever, were soon drawn into service. The use of so-
call for understanding of both the individual users cial science method and theory in this computer
perspective and the “big picture” and networking based context was often aimed at
preagmatically trying to improved these now co-
e. Etnography enactments modified tools. The methods and theory used have
First popularised by mtv in their real world series, largely been deracinated of considerations of phe-
the approach builds an environment for people and nomena like social inequality, gender, class, and,
then monitors them within it. Its been used for sev- more generally power relations. Historically product
eral technology companies hoping to understand and graphic design have found a similarily narrow
how people’s life change when their homes become path and used a few research tools imported from
filled with new digital appliances and distributed or applied by social science practisioners.
While it is true that ethnographic research results in
PERSONAS better products and systems, it is not enough to pro-
These are actually scenarios ar profiles created to in- duce better systems and products in a conventional
spire and guide design. They are typically visual and sense. For designers and social scientists the ques-
textual descriptions, but ideally, they are the results tion should become: how can we design artifacts
of studying real people. This approach was heavily so that they radiate freedom necessary to enhance
used by the advertisers in 1980’s and 90’s. Personas the self-invention that de certeau observe? Can the
are less effective if the audience is diverse by- defi- cross-pollination between these proffesions move
nation personas are narrow descriptions best suited towards the introduction of emancipatory content
to homogeneous markets or niche audience. into designed artifacts? Can this direction comport
with the business imperatives inherent in the
production of goods And development of services. I for populations which have little in common with
think the answer is yes, but the questions are daunt- the designers.
ingly complex and solutions will only come through
sustained hard work. Informance can take many different forms. Different
forms are practical in different business situations.
Eric dishman describes the most elaborate form
“performance for an audience “. The great advantage
Informance : Role in Design of performance for an audience is that a great num-
ber of people can be brought into the research and
design process; for example engineers who may be
Design researchers must go beyond what they can
remote from the research process can be included
find; to see more than what is visible, and to learn
in the audience and bring new insights and engi-
more than what can be heard. Accordingly design
neering components that improve the design.
research is an act of imagination, just as much as
design itself.
Informance can be a part of the daily life of de-
sign teams, and at its most casual level it already
The metaphor of consumers as tribes of culturally
is. Team discussions with improvised examples are
unknown people has influenced much of the de-
an elementary form of Informance. As researchers
sign today. Hence ethnographic field methods and
and designers discuss their potential consumers,
other techniques provide disciplined approaches
some people will no doubt exemplify their ideas
for research. The goal of ethnography is to under-
with comments about what consumer Jane might
stand is to understand what is foreign to ones own
think, even mimic what Jane might say about a de-
world view.
sign feature. This pretense should be encouraged in
the team discussions. As team members bring rigor
Some have used the expression “empathetic design”
to their characterizations of consumers they have
to express a more ambitious goal of seeing a situa-
studied, they can bring consumers voices into the
tion internally; that is, as potential customers would
meetings which are quite a useful thing.
see it.

The goal of “Informance“and its cousins design im-

provisation and performance ethnography goes Finding, the void.
beyond understanding consumers culture or even
having an inside understanding of consumers. The Sun Tzu observed that direct assault on fortified cit-
goal is to create, through performance characters ies was the most costly and dangerous strategy. It is
which can speak about their world, express opinions more effective to appear when one is not expected
about product features, answer questions about de- (Sun Tzu 1971). What is the corresponding maneu-
sign possibilities and even design products. ver in research in design? It is to find the “void”- the
unpopulated area where nothing yet exists
Informance is a set of techniques in which actors
and/or researchers study what is known about the This observation sets a meta- requirement for stra-
consumers and role-play potential consumers. Infor- tegic thinking-; to find the void. I broach this in a
mance subsumes both ethnography and empathy. structuralist manner, describing the essential quali-
It begins with ethnographic study and researchers ties of an existing design space, technology or user
move on to interpreting their data through em- experience and then imagining inverting a small
pathy: seeing situations, uses and elements as the number of its specific qualities. In a way, this is akin
studied consumers would see them. The next step to the deconstructionist creation of the “other “by
is Informance itself: acts of pretending which trans- knowing the “self’. For example consider a conversa-
form empathy to action. tion between two people. In days ancient and now
forgotten conversations were all face to face. The
Two situations especially call for Informance. Design opposite (inversion) of this is to have bodies sepa-
for entirely new categories of products because it rated in space. Lets think of describing this structur-
is particularly difficult for people to imagine. Infor- ally as a number line, comma with face to face at the
mance is also useful with products left end (at zero), a shouted conversation across a
canyon a little to right (at 0.3) and a telephone
conversation at the far right (at 1). We now have
three points along an axis. One could imagine build-
ing something to populate the unoccupied point
(at 0.6) perhaps a super mega-phone?

We can imagine a new axis, at right angle (y axis) to

the first (x axis or space), and for this new axis”time”.
What would excursions along it be like? Well face
to face is at the origin and the recording is at the
top of the y axis , we now have a Cartesian grid,
with type recorders at (0.1) , face to conversations
at (0,0) and telephony at (1,0). And there is a void
– an unoccupied locus, on the grid at (1,1). Clearly
its “nature“would be a recorded conversation be-

tween two people far apart in space and separated
in time.

In other words Voicemail !

Can we add a third axis? Perhaps that of other me-

dia types? This rapidly takes us into what is now the
domain of instant messaging services, which are
all populating new loci in “conversation space”. Per-
haps we can even add a forth axis: the number of
people involved.

Notice that many of the loci, exposed by such a struc-

turalist analysis are dependant on having technolo-
gies to create capabilities to support their intent. Of-
ten such capabilities are logistical in nature as in the
telephone network – but they can be repurposed to
support a new intent revealed as part of a structur-
alist design process just as the telephone network
was repurposed to be used by the first computer
modems to transport digital data over analog voice
lines by the strategic air command’s SAGE network
in the 1950’s. Cleverly repurposing existing logistics
in an important heuristic for design. But sometimes
there is no way to crease a capability that can popu-
late the void; we call this “Unobtainium”

None the less, we now have a powerful analytic tool

for design. We describe experiences and affordanc-
es creating a Cartesian multispace, and note where
existing things cluster. Then we observe where the
unpopulated loci are and describe their nature in
terms of the experience and affordances. Then we
analyze the technology needed to support their ex-
istence and proceed to actual engineering.
Semantic publishing will benefit greatly from the
The Semantic Web semantic web. In particular, the semantic web is ex-
pected to revolutionize scientific publishing, such
The Semantic Web is an evolving extension of the as real-time publishing and sharing of experimental
World Wide Web in which the semantics of informa- data on the Internet. This simple but radical idea
tion and services on the web is defined, making it is now being explored by W3C HCLS group’s Scien-
possible for the web to understand and satisfy the tific Publishing Task Force (
requests of people and machines to use the web /HCLS/ScientificPublishingTaskForce) .
content. It derives from World Wide Web Consor-
tium director Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of the Web Tim Berners-Lee has described the semantic web as
as a universal medium for data, information, and a component of Web 3.0.
knowledge exchange. At its core, the semantic web
comprises a set of design principles, collaborative
working groups, and a variety of enabling technol-
ogies. Some elements of the semantic web are ex- Relationship to the hypertext web
pressed as prospective future possibilities that are
yet to be implemented or realized. Other elements Limitations of HTML
of the semantic web are expressed in formal speci-
fications.[5] Some of these include Resource De- Many files on a typical computer can be loosely
scription Framework (RDF), a variety of data inter- divided into documents and data. Documents like
change formats (e.g. RDF/XML, N3, Turtle, N-Triples), mail messages, reports, and brochures are read by
and notations such as RDF Schema (RDFS) and the humans. Data, like calendars, addressbooks, play-
Web Ontology Language (OWL), all of which are in- lists, and spreadsheets are presented using an ap-
tended to provide a formal description of concepts, plication program which lets them be viewed,
terms, and relationships within a given knowledge searched and combined in many ways.
Currently, the World Wide Web is based mainly on
Purpose documents written in Hypertext Markup Language
(HTML), a markup convention that is used for cod-
Humans are capable of using the Web to carry out ing a body of text interspersed with multimedia ob-
tasks such as finding the Finnish word for “monkey”, jects such as images and interactive forms.
reserving a library book, and searching for a low Metadata tags, for example
price on a DVD. However, a computer cannot ac-
complish the same tasks without human direction <meta name=”keywords” content=”computing,
because web pages are designed to be read by peo- computer studies, computer”>
ple, not machines. The semantic web is a vision of <meta name=”description” content=”Cheap wid-
information that is understandable by computers, gets for sale”>
so that they can perform more of the tedious work <meta name=”author” content=”Billy Bob McThree-
involved in finding, sharing and combining infor- teeth”>
mation on the web. Tim Berners-Lee originally ex-
pressed the vision of the semantic web as follows: provide a method by which computers can categor-
ise the content of web pages. With HTML and a tool
to render it (perhaps web browser software, perhaps
I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] be- another user agent), one can create and present a
come capable of analyzing all the data on the Web page that lists items for sale. The HTML of this catalog
– the content, links, and transactions between peo- page can make simple, document-level assertions
ple and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should such as “this document’s title is ‘Widget Superstore’”.
make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it But there is no capability within the HTML itself to
does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureau- assert unambiguously that, for example, item num-
cracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines ber X586172 is an Acme Gizmo with a retail price of
talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people €199, or that it is a consumer product. Rather, HTML
have touted for ages will finally materialize. can only say that the span of text “X586172” is some-
– Tim Berners-Lee, 1999 thing that should be positioned near
“Acme Gizmo” is a kind of title or that “€ 199” is a Encoding similar information in a semantic web
price. page might look like this:

There is also no way to express that these pieces of <item rdf:about=”

information are bound together in describing a dis- resource/Cat”>Cat</item>
crete item, distinct from other items perhaps listed
on the page. Semantic HTML refers to the traditional Relationship to object oriented
HTML practice of markup following intention, rather
than specifying layout details directly. For example,
the use of <em> denoting “emphasis” rather than
A number of authors highlight the similarities
<i>, which specifies italics. Layout details are left
which the Semantic Web shares with object-ori-
up to the browser, in combination with Cascading
ented programming (OOP). Both the semantic web
Style Sheets. But this practice falls short of specify-
and object-oriented programming have classes
ing the semantics of objects such as items for sale or
with attributes and the concept of instances or ob-
prices. Microformats represent unofficial attempts
jects. Linked Data uses Dereferenceable Uniform
to extend HTML syntax to create machine-readable
Resource Identifiers in a manner similar to the com-
semantic markup about objects such as retail stores
mon programming concept of pointers or “object
and items for sale.
identifiers” in OOP. Dereferenceable URIs can thus be
used to access “data by reference”. The Unified Mod-
Semantic Web solutions eling Language is designed to communicate about
object-oriented systems, and can thus be used for
The Semantic Web takes the solution further. It both object-oriented programming and semantic
involves publishing in languages specifically de- web development.
signed for data: Resource Description Framework
(RDF), Web Ontology Language (OWL), and Extensi- When the web was first being created in the late
ble Markup Language (XML). HTML describes docu- 1980s and early 1990s, it was done using object-
ments and the links between them. RDF, OWL, and oriented programming languages such as Objec-
XML, by contrast, can describe arbitrary things such tive-C, Smalltalk and CORBA. In the mid-1990s this
as people, meetings, or airplane parts. Tim Berners- development practise was furthered with the an-
Lee calls the resulting network of Linked Data the nouncement of the Enterprise Objects Framework,
Giant Global Graph, in contrast to the HTML-based Portable Distributed Objects and WebObjects all by
World Wide Web. NeXT, in addition to the Component Object Mod-
el released by Microsoft. XML was then released
These technologies are combined in order to pro- in 1998, and RDF a year after in 1999. Similarity to
vide descriptions that supplement or replace the object oriented programming also came from two
content of Web documents. Thus, content may other routes: the first was the development of the
manifest as descriptive data stored in Web-accessi- very knowledge-centric “Hyperdocument” systems
ble databases, or as markup within documents by Douglas Engelbart [10], and the second comes
(particularly, in Extensible HTML (XHTML) inter- from the usage and development of the Hypertext
spersed with XML, or, more often, purely in XML, Transfer Protocol.
with layout/rendering cues stored separately). The
machine-readable descriptions enable content
managers to add meaning to the content, i.e. to
describe the structure of the knowledge we have
Skeptical reactions
about that content. In this way, a machine can pro-
cess knowledge itself, instead of text, using process- Practical feasibility
es similar to human deductive reasoning and infer-
ence, thereby obtaining more meaningful results Critics question the basic feasibility of a complete or
and facilitating automated information gathering even partial fulfillment of the semantic web. Some
and research by computers. An example of a tag develop their critique from the perspective of hu-
that would be used in a non-semantic web page: man behavior (see e.g., metacrap). Other commen-
tators object that there are limitations that stem
<item>cat</item> from the current state of software engineering
itself (see e.g., Leaky abstraction). Components
Where semantic web technologies have found a great- The semantic web comprises the standards and
er degree of practical adoption, it has tended to be tools of XML, XML Schema, RDF, RDF Schema and
among core specialized communities and organiza- OWL that are organized in the Semantic Web Stack.
tions for intra-company projects. The practical con- The OWL Web Ontology Language Overview (http://
straints toward adoption have appeared less challeng- describes the func-
ing where domain and scope is more limited than that tion and relationship of each of these components
of the general public and the World-Wide Web. of the semantic web:

An unrealized idea XML provides an elemental syntax for content

structure within documents, yet associates no
The original 2001 Scientific American article by semantics with the meaning of the content con-
Berners-Lee described an expected evolution of the tained within.
existing Web to a Semantic Web. Such an evolution
has yet to occur. Indeed, a more recent article from XML Schema is a language for providing and
Berners-Lee and colleagues stated that: “This simple restricting the structure and content of elements
idea, however, remains largely unrealized.” contained within XML documents.

Doubling output formats RDF is a simple language for expressing data mod-
els, which refer to objects (“resources”) and their
Another criticism of the semantic web is that it would relationships. An RDF-based model can be
be much more time-consuming to create and publish represented in XML syntax.
content because there would need to be two formats
for one piece of data: one for human viewing and one RDF Schema is a vocabulary for describing proper-
for machines. However, many web applications in ties and classes of RDF-based resources, with se-
development are addressing this issue by creating a mantics for generalized-hierarchies of such proper-
machine-readable format upon the publishing of data ties and classes.
or the request of a machine for such data. The devel-
opment of microformats has been one reaction to this OWL adds more vocabulary for describing proper-
kind of criticism. Specifications such as eRDF and ties and classes: among others, relations between
RDFa allow arbitrary RDF data to be embedded in classes (e.g. disjointness), cardinality (e.g. “exactly
HTML pages. The GRDDL (Gleaning Resource De- one”), equality, richer typing of properties, charac-
scriptions from Dialects of Language) mechanism al- teristics of properties (e.g. symmetry), and enumer-
lows existing material (including microformats) to be ated classes.
automatically interpreted as RDF, so publishers only
need to use a single format, such as HTML. SPARQL is a protocol and query language for se-
mantic web data sources.
Current ongoing standardizations
The idea of a ‘semantic web’ necessarily coming from include:
some marking code other than simple HTML is built
on the assumption that it is not possible for a machine Rule Interchange Format (RIF) as the Rule Layer of
to appropriately interpret code based on nothing but the Semantic Web Stack
the order relationships of letters and words. If this is
not true, then it may be possible to build a ‘semantic The intent is to enhance the usability and usefulness
web’ on HTML alone, making a specially built ‘se- of the Web and its interconnected resources through:
mantic web’ coding system unnecessary. There are la- Servers which expose existing data systems using the
tent dynamic network models that can, under certain RDF and SPARQL standards. Many converters to
conditions, be ‘trained’ to appropriately ‘learn’ mean- RDF ( exist
ing based on order data, in the process ‘learning’ rela- from different applications. Relational databases are
tionships with order (a kind of rudimentary working an important source. The semantic web server attach-
grammar). See for example latent semantic analysis. es to the existing system without affecting its
Documents “marked up” with semantic informa- Semantic markup is often generated automatically,
tion (an extension of the HTML <meta> tags used rather than manually.
in today’s Web pages to supply information for Web
search engines using web crawlers). This could be Common metadata vocabularies (ontologies) and
machine-understandable information about the maps between vocabularies that allow document
human-understandable content of the document creators to know how to mark up their documents
(such as the creator, title, description, etc., of the so that agents can use the information in the sup-
document) or it could be purely metadata repre- plied metadata (so that Author in the sense of ‘the
senting a set of facts (such as resources and services Author of the page’ won’t be confused with Author
elsewhere in the site). (Note that anything that can in the sense of a book that is the subject of a book
be identified with a Uniform Resource Identifier review).
(URI) can be described, so the semantic web can
reason about animals, people, places, ideas, etc.) Automated agents to perform tasks for users of the
semantic web using this data. foundationalism in philosophy, debates over the
Cyc project in AI). Differences between the two are
Web-based services (often with agents of their largely matters of focus. Philosophers are less con-
own) to supply information specifically to agents cerned with establishing fixed, controlled vocabular-
(for example, a Trust service that an agent could ask ies than are researchers in computer science, while
if some online store has a history of poor service or computer scientists are less involved in discussions
spamming).Lets now look at the building blocks of first principles (such as debating whether there
starting with ontology. are such things as fixed essences, or whether enti-
ties must be ontologically more primary than pro-
Ontology cesses).

In ontology in computer science and information History

science is a formal representation of a set of con-
cepts within a domain and the relationships be- Historically, ontologies arise out of the branch of
tween those concepts. It is used to reason about philosophy known as metaphysics, which deals with
the properties of that domain, and may be used to the nature of reality – of what exists. This fundamen-
define the domain. tal branch is concerned with analyzing various types
or modes of existence, often with special attention
In theory an ontology is a “formal, explicit specifi- to the relations between particulars and universals,
cation of a shared conceptualisation”. An ontology between intrinsic and extrinsic properties, and be-
provide a shared vocabulary, which can be used to tween essence and existence. The traditional goal
model a domain, that is, the type of objects and/or of ontological inquiry in particular is to divide the
concepts that exist, and their properties and rela- world “at its joints”, to discover those fundamental
tions. categories, or kinds, into which the world’s objects
naturally fall.
Ontologies are used in artificial intelligence, the Se-
mantic Web, software engineering, biomedical in- During the second half of the 20th century, philoso-
formatics, library science, and information architec- phers extensively debated the possible methods or
ture as a form of knowledge representation about approaches to building ontologies, without actually
the world or some part of it. building any very elaborate ontologies themselves.
By contrast, computer scientists were building some
Overview large and robust ontologies (such as WordNet and
Cyc) with comparatively little debate over how they
The term ontology has its origin in philosophy, and were built. Since the mid-1970s, researchers in the
has been applied in many different ways. The core field of artificial intelligence have recognized that
meaning within computer science is a model for capturing knowledge is the key to building large
describing the world that consists of a set of types, and powerful AI systems. AI researchers argued that
properties, and relationship types. Exactly what is they could create new ontologies as computational
provided around this varies, but this is the essentials models that enable certain kinds of automated rea-
of an ontology. There is also generally an expecta- soning. In the 1980s, the AI community began to
tion that there be a close resemblance between the use the term ontology to refer to both a theory of
real world and the features of the model in an ontol- a modeled world and a component of knowledge
ogy. systems. Some researchers, drawing inspiration
from philosophical ontologies, viewed computa-
What ontology has in common in both computer tional ontology as a kind of applied philosophy.
science and in philosophy is the representation of
entities, ideas, and events, along with their proper- In the early 1990s, the widely cited Web page and
ties and relations, according to a system of catego- paper “Toward Principles for the Design of Ontolo-
ries. In both fields, one finds considerable work on gies Used for Knowledge Sharing” by Tom Gruber[7]
problems of ontological relativity (e.g., Quine and is credited with a deliberate definition of ontology
Kripke in philosophy, Sowa and Guarino in com- as a technical term in computer science. Gruber in-
puter science) and debates concerning whether a troduced the term to mean a specification of a con-
normative ontology is viable (e.g., debates over ceptualization. That is, an ontology is a description
like a formal specification of a program, of the con- Relations: ways in which classes and individuals can
cepts and relationships that can exist for an agent or be related to one another
a community of agents. This definition is consistent
with the usage of ontology as set of concept defini- Function terms: complex structures formed from
tions, but more general. And it is a different sense of certain relations that can be used in place of an
the word than its use in philosophy. individual term in a statement

Ontologies are often equated with taxonomic hi- Restrictions: formally stated descriptions of what
erarchies of classes, class definitions, and the sub- must be true in order for some assertion to be
sumption relation, but ontologies need not be lim- acceptedas input
ited to these forms. Ontologies are also not limited
to conservative definitions – that is, definitions in Rules: statements in the form of an if-then (anteced-
the traditional logic sense that only introduce ter- ent-consequent) sentence that describe the logical
minology and do not add any knowledge about the inferences that can be drawn from an assertion in a
world. To specify a conceptualization, one needs to particular form
state axioms that do constrain the possible inter-
pretations for the defined terms. Axioms: assertions (including rules) in a logical form
that together comprise the overall theory that the
In the early years of the 21st century, the interdisci- ontology describes in its domain of application.
plinary project of cognitive science has been bring- This definition differs from that of “axioms” in gener-
ing the two circles of scholars closer together. For ative grammar and formal logic. In these disciplines,
example, there is talk of a “computational turn in axioms include only statements asserted as a priori
philosophy” that includes philosophers analyzing knowledge. As used here, “axioms” also include the
the formal ontologies of computer science (some- theory derived from axiomatic statements.
times even working directly with the software),
while researchers in computer science have been Events: the changing of attributes or relations
making more references to those philosophers who
work on ontology (sometimes with direct conse- Lets now move on to Folksonomy ......
quences for their methods). Still, many scholars in
both fields are uninvolved in this trend of cogni- Folksonomy
tive science, and continue to work independently
of one another, pursuing separately their different Folksonomy (also known as collaborative tagging,
concerns. social classification, social indexing, and social tag-
ging) is the practice and method of collaboratively
Ontology components creating and managing tags to annotate and cat-
egorize content. Folksonomy describes the bottom-
Contemporary ontologies share many structural up classification systems that emerge from social
similarities, regardless of the language in which tagging. In contrast to traditional subject indexing,
they are expressed. As mentioned above, most on- metadata is generated not only by experts but also
tologies describe individuals (instances), classes by creators and consumers of the content. Usually,
(concepts), attributes, and relations. In this section freely chosen keywords are used instead of a con-
each of these components is discussed in turn. trolled vocabulary. Folksonomy (from folk + taxono-
my) is a user-generated taxonomy.
Common components of ontologies include:
Folksonomies became popular on the Web around
Individuals: instances or objects (the basic or 2004 as part of social software applications including
“ground level” objects) social bookmarking and annotating photographs.
Tagging, which is characteristic of Web 2.0 services,
Classes: sets, collections, concepts, types of objects, allows non-expert users to collectively classify and
or kinds of things. find information. Some websites include tag clouds
as a way to visualize tags in a folksonomy.
Attributes: aspects, properties, features, character-
istics, or parameters that objects (and classes) can Typically, folksonomies are Internet-based,
although they are also used in other contexts. Ag- Classification systems have several problems: they
gregating the tags of many users creates a folkson- can be slow to change, they reflect (and reinforce) a
omy.[1] Aggregation is the pulling together of all of particular worldview, they are rooted in the culture
the tags in an automated way. Folksonomic tagging and era that created them, and they can be absurd
is intended to make a body of information increas- at times.I diosyncratic folksonomic classification
ingly easy to search, discover, and navigate over within a clique can especially reinforce pre-existing
time. A well-developed folksonomy is ideally acces- viewpoints. Folksonomies are routinely generated
sible as a shared vocabulary that is both originated by people who have spent a great deal of time in-
by, and familiar to, its primary users. Two widely cit- teracting with the content they tag, and may not
ed examples of websites using folksonomic tagging properly identify the content’s relationship to exter-
are Flickr and Delicious, although Flickr may not be nal items.
a good example of folksonomy.
For example, items tagged as “Web 2.0” represent
As folksonomies develop in Internet-mediated so- seemingly inconsistent and contradictory resourc-
cial environments, users can discover who used a es. The lack of a hierarchical or systematic structure
given tag and see the other tags that this person for the tagging system makes the terms relevant
has used. In this way, folksonomy users can discover to what they are describing, but often fails to show
the tag sets of another user who tends to interpret their relevancy or relationship to other objects of
and tag content in a way that makes sense to them. the same or similar type.
The result can be a rewarding gain in the user’s ca-
pacity to find related content (a practice known as Origin
“pivot browsing”). Part of the appeal of folksonomy
is its inherent subversiveness: when faced with The term folksonomy is generally attributed to Thom-
the choice of the search tools that Web sites pro- as Vander Wal.[6][7] It is a portmanteau of the words
vide, folksonomies can be seen as a rejection of the folk (or folks) and taxonomy that specifically refers
search engine status quo in favor of tools that are to subject indexing systems created within Internet
created by the community. communities. Folksonomy has little to do with taxon-
omy—the latter refers to an ontological, hierarchical
Folksonomy creation and searching tools are not way of categorizing, while folksonomy establishes
part of the underlying World Wide Web protocols. categories (each tag is a category) that are theoreti-
Folksonomies arise in Web-based communities cally “equal” to each other (i.e., there is no hierarchy,
where provisions are made at the site level for cre- or parent-child relation between different tags).
ating and using tags. These communities are es-
tablished to enable Web users to label and share Early attempts and experiments include the World
user-generated content, such as photographs, or to Wide Web Consortium’s Annotea project with user-
collaboratively label existing content, such as Web generated tags in 2002.[8] According to Vander Wal,
sites, books, works in the scientific and scholarly lit- a folksonomy is “tagging that works”.
eratures, and blog entries.
Folksonomy is unrelated to folk taxonomy, a cultural
Practical evaluation practice that has been widely documented in anthro-
pological and folkloristic work. Folk taxonomies are
Folksonomy is criticized because its lack of termino- culturally supplied, intergenerationally transmitted,
logical control causes it to be more likely to produce and relatively stable classification systems that peo-
unreliable and inconsistent results. If tags are freely ple in a given culture use to make sense of the entire
chosen (instead of taken from a given vocabulary), world around them (not just the Internet).
synonyms (multiple tags for the same concept), hom-
onymy (same tag used with different meaning), and Folksonomy and the Semantic Web
polysemy (same tag with multiple related meanings)
are likely to arise, lowering the efficiency of content Folksonomy may hold the key to developing a Se-
indexing and searching.[4] Other reasons for meta mantic Web, in which every Web page contains ma-
noise are the lack of stemming (normalization of chinereadable metadata that describes its content.[10]
word inflections) and the heterogeneity of users and Such metadata would dramatically improve the preci-
contexts. sion (the percentage of relevant documents) in search
engine retrieval lists. However, it is difficult to see
how the large and varied community of Web page
authors could be persuaded to add metadata to
their pages in a consistent, reliable way; web au-
thors who wish to do so experience high entry costs
because metadata systems are time-consuming to
learn and use.[12] For this reason, few Web authors
make use of the simple Dublin Core metadata stan-
dard, even though the use of Dublin Core meta-tags
could increase their pages’ prominence in search
engine retrieval lists.[13] In contrast to more formal- FOAF Logo
ized, top-down classifications using controlled vo-
cabularies, folksonomy is a distributed classification the first Social Semantic Web application, in that it
system with low entry costs. combines

Main problems of folksonomy tagging RDF technology with ‘Social Web’ concerns. Tim
Berners-Lee in a recent essay[1] (
Four main problems of folksonomy tagging are plu- edu/breadcrumbs/node/215) redefined the Seman-
rals, polysemy, synonymy, and depth (specificity) of tic web concept into something he calls the Giant
tagging. Folksonomy-based systems can employ Global Graph, where relationships transcend net-
optional authority control of subject keywords, works/documents. He considers the GGG to be on
place, personal, or corporate names and resource equal grounds with Internet and World Wide Web,
titles, by connecting the system to established au- stating that “I express my network in a FOAF file, and
thority control files or controlled vocabularies using that is a start of the revolution.”
new techniques. A folksonomy-based system needs
a controlled vocabulary and a suggestion-based


FOAF (an acronym of Friend of a Friend) is a ma-
chine-readable ontology describing persons, their
activities and their relations to other people and
objects. Anyone can use FOAF to describe him or
herself. FOAF allows groups of people to describe
social networks without the need for a centralised

FOAF is a descriptive vocabulary expressed using

RDF Resource Description Framework and OWL Web
Ontology Language. Computers may use these
FOAF profiles to find, for example, all people liv-
ing in Europe, or to list all people both you and a
friend of yours know. This is accomplished by defin-
ing relationships between people. Each profile has
a unique identifier (such as the person’s e-mail ad-
dresses, a Jabber ID, or a URI of the homepage or
weblog of the person), which is used when defining
these relationships.

The FOAF project, which defines and extends the

vocabulary of a FOAF profile, was started in 2000 by
Libby Miller and Dan Brickley. It can be considered
the social
in “online”,

y how user
affects tech
Digital Culture That is why I studied it and then focused on the so-
cial aspects of this digitized world to extract some
In the western world (and also the developing na- knowledge about what makes things click in this
tions now) and increasingly everywhere we are be- rapidly changing area of online communication,
coming more and more digitized. This is true of pro- online presence and social networking. I found
cesses, activities and communication. Many of us some very interesting things which I’ll be sharing as
find ourselves spending a fair share of our lives on we move apace. I’ll be looking at services like IRC
the computer, and that computers are also moving , Yahoo messenger and Orkut and study the social
out of the gray boxes and into our everyday lives in implications that they brought about and how the
the form of PDA’s, mobile technology and wireless users affect these technology based services.
networks. Some aspects of our lives are becoming
virtualized. Clearly this is an area which is inherently But first we should look at what are these services in
multidisciplinary as it involves so many different greater detail so we will be reading about social net-
things. working services , instant messengers , social net-
working aggregators , etc and when we reach each
First of all it is a good idea to identify some of the of the examples a little history on them too.
salient aspects of digital culture. My personal list
would probably include cyberspace , spatial de- Social Networking Services
sign, virtual reality , online communication, virtual
communities, online environments , social aspects A social network service focuses on building online
of online life, embodiment , socialization, identity , communities of people who share interests and
reputation, immersion, interfaces , hypertext, narra- activities, or who are interested in exploring the in-
tives , blogs , digital art , computer games. terests and activities of others. Most social network
services are web based and provide a variety of
This is a long list which at first might look a bit clut- ways for users to interact, such as e-mail and instant
tered , but it does help us approach the field. Look- messaging services.
ing at this we can only imagine the huge amounts
of data each individual who is a part of this digital Social networking has created new ways to com-
culture is creating both with and without his knowl- municate and share information. Social networking
edge. Now it is up to us whether we decide to use websites are being used regularly by millions of
this goldmine of data to our advantage or look the people, and it now seems that social networking
other way and continue the traditional methods of will be an enduring part of everyday life. The main
knowing our consumers. types of social networking services are those which
contain directories of some categories (such as
Especially the people who are engaged in the de- former classmates), means to connect with friends
sign of online services and things which are or (usually with self-description pages), and recom-
would be a part of the digital culture have to look at mender systems linked to trust. Popular methods
these new methods to design or produce new ideas now combine many of these, with MySpace and Fa-
and services which create a whole new area for rev- cebook being the most widely used in North Amer-
enue generation. ica; Nexopia (mostly in Canada); Bebo, Facebook,
Hi5, MySpace, Tagged, Xing; and Skyrock in parts of
This is where I thought of expanding the normal Europe; Orkut and Hi5 in South America and Central
ethnographic methods of learning more about your America; and Friendster, Orkut, Xiaonei and Cyworld
consumer by studying his online life and the partici- in Asia and the Pacific Islands.
patory methods in this digital culture. So first I went
about trying to find out what are we doing current- There have been some attempts to standardize
ly to mine this data, and then I stumbled upon this these services to avoid the need to duplicate entries
absolutely brilliant platform of “The Semantic Web” of friends and interests (see the FOAF standard and
which had me more or less out of business because the Open Source Initiative), but this has led to some
it already had proposed a platform for the very concerns about privacy.
things I wanted to do , that too automatically and
was already put into practice in secluded packets,
enjoying success.
History of social networking services site in the world, not limited by particular geograph-
ic followings.
The notion that individual computers linked elec-
tronically could form the basis of computer mediat- Social networking began to flourish as a compo-
ed social interaction and networking was suggested nent of business internet strategy at around March
early on . There were many early efforts to support 2005 when Yahoo launched Yahoo! 360°. In July
social networks via computer-mediated communi- 2005 News Corporation bought MySpace, followed
cation, including Usenet, ARPANET, LISTSERV, bul- by ITV (UK) buying Friends Reunited in December
letin board services (BBS), and EIES: Murray Turoff’s 2005. Various social networking sites have sprung
server-based Electronic Information Exchange Ser- up catering to different languages and countries.
vice (Turoff and Hiltz, 1978, 1993). The Information It is estimated that combined there are now over
Routing Group developed a schema about how the 200 social networking sites using these existing
proto-Internet might support this. and emerging social networking models, without
counting the niche social networks (also referred to
Early social networking websites included Class- as vertical social networks) made possible by ser- (1995), focusing on ties with former vices such as Ning and KickApps.
school mates, and (1997), focusing
on indirect ties. User profiles could be created, mes- Research on the social impact of social
sages sent to users held on a “friends list” and other networking software
members could be sought out who had similar in-
terests to yours in their profiles. Whilst these fea-
tures had existed in some form before SixDegrees. An increasing number of academic commenta-
com came about, this would be the first time these tors are becoming interested in studying Facebook
functions were available in one package. Despite and other social networking tools. Social science
these new developments (that would later catch on researchers have begun to investigate what the
and become immensely popular), the website sim- impact of this might be on society. Typical articles
ply wasn’t profitable and eventually shut down. It have investigated issues such as
was even described by the website’s owner as “sim-
ply ahead of its time.” Two different models of social Identity
networking that came about in 1999 were trust- Privacy
based, developed by, and friendship- E-learning
based, such as those developed by Jonathan Bishop Social capital
and used on some regional UK sites between 1999 Teenage use
and 2001.
A special issue of the Journal for Computer-Medi-
Innovations included not only showing who is ated Communications was dedicated to studies of
“friends” with whom, but giving users more control social network sites (
over content and connectivity. Between 2002 and /issue1/) . Included in this issue is an introduction to
2004, three social networking sites emerged as the social network sites. A list of academic scholarship
most popular form of these sites in the world, caus- on these sites is also available. A 2008 book pub-
ing such sites to become part of mainstream users lished by Forrester Research, Inc. titled Groundswell
globally. First there was Friendster (which Google builds on a 2006 Forrester Report about social com-
tried to acquire in 2003), then, MySpace, and finally, puting and coins the term groundswell to mean
Bebo. By 2005, MySpace, emergent as the biggest “a spontaneous movement of people using online
of them all, was reportedly getting more page views tools to connect, take charge of their own experi-
than Google. 2004 saw the emergence of Facebook, ence, and get what they need-information, support,
a competitor, also rapidly growing in size. In 2006, ideas, products, and bargaining power--from each
Facebook opened up to the non US college commu- other.”
nity, and together with allowing externally-devel-
oped add-on applications, and some applications Business applications
enabled the graphing of a user’s own social network
- thus linking social networks and social network- Social networks connect people at low cost; this can
ing, became the largest and fastest growing be beneficial for entrepreneurs and small business
looking to expand their contact base. These net- audience with interested and passionate users. Users
works often act as a customer relationship man- benefit by interacting with a like minded communi-
agement tool for companies selling products and ty and finding a channel for their energy and giving.
services. Companies can also use social networks Examples include,TakingITGlobal
for advertising in the form of banners and text ads. and Network for Good. The charity badge is often
Since businesses operate globally, social networks used within the above context.
can make it easier to keep in touch with contacts
around the world. Pros of Social networking applications
One example of social networking being used for CMC can have a positive effect on student/teacher
business purposes is, which aims to communication which can lead to positive student
interconnect professionals. It claims to have more outcomes. The use of emoticons enables the rela-
than 20 million registered users from 150 different tionship between teachers and students to become
industries. more personal.

Professional networking sites function as online Business decision makers are now preferring com-
meeting places for business and industry profes- munication channels that are two-way dialogs,
sionals. Other sites are bringing this model for niche channels that resemble social networking applica-
business professional networking. tions. This is a great way for businesses to advertise
their product. It is also a way that has proved to be
Virtual communities for business allow individuals more effective than the previous “word of mouth”
to be accessible. People establish their real identity influence.
in a verifiable place. These individuals then interact
with each other or within groups that share com- Social networking allows us to identify and connect
mon business interests and goals. They can also with friends and strangers while on the go. Such
post their own user generated content in the form computer mediated communication also allows us
of blogs, pictures, slide shows and videos. Like a so- to reconnect with friends from the past whom we
cial network, the consumer essentially becomes the may have lost contact with.
LinkdeIn is a sns (social networking site) particular-
A professional network is used for the business to ly used by jobseekers. It is a tool used to link users
business marketplace. These networks improve to people they may have worked with in the past
the ability for people to advance professionally, by through various jobs or institutions. Users also have
finding, connecting and networking with others. the opportunity to link to certain companies they
Business professionals can share experiences with aspire to work with.
others who have a need to learn from similar experi-
Cons of Social Networking Applications
The traditional way to interact is face-to-face. In-
On the contrary, all networking applications used
teractive technology makes it possible for people
in the professional environment are not beneficial
to network with their peers from anywhere, at any-
or successful. Some prospects experience trouble
time in an online environment. Professional net-
while trying to build their networks, thus they may
work services attract, aggregate and assemble large
produce ineffective work. Employees are now more
business-focused audiences by creating informative
likely than before to carry inappropriate conversa-
and interactive meeting places.
tions at work. Communicating with such technolo-
gies creates a relaxed feeling in a professional en-
Social networks for social good vironment. Some messages that should be relayed
in person are being sent through the computer; the
Several websites are beginning to tap into the pow- nature of the message and the audience should dic-
er of the social networking model for social good. tate the medium used to transmit the message. The
Such models may be highly successful for connect- ability to network with 100 people will not improve
ing otherwise fragmented industries and small or- our communication skills when in contact with
ganizations without the resources to reach a broad them.
Social networking has forced people to trade in Social status
fewer relationships with close family and friends
for distant and virtual ones that are much greater The social status of an individual is revealed on so-
quantitatively. cial networks. Sociologist, Erving Goffman refers to
the “Interaction Order” which he claims is the “part
Typical structure of a social networking of the social life where face-to-face and spoken in-
teractions occur” (Rhiengold: 2002, P171). He be-
service lieves that the way people represents themselves
provides other users information about them they
Basics want others to believe while concealing the rest.
Goffman beliefs that peole also give off “information
In general, social networking services allow users to leaking true but uncontrolled information along
create a profile for themselves, and can be broken with their more deliberate performances” (Rhein-
down into two broad categories: internal social net- gold: 2002, P171). Through social networks people
working (ISN) and external social networking (ESN) are now able to completely control the information
sites, such as Orkut,MySpace, Facebook and Bebo. provided about themselves through the photos
Both types can increase the feeling of community they include, the information provided, whether it
among people. An ISN is a closed/private com- be true or false and the friends they make. People
munity that consists of a group of people within a are therefore now able to control their personal in-
company, association, society, education provider formation and their desired social status.
and organization or even an “invite only” group cre-
ated by a user in an ESN. An ESN is open/public and Some social networks have additional features, such
available to all web users to communicate and are as the ability to create groups that share common
designed to attract advertisers. ESN’s can be small- interests or affiliations, upload or stream live videos,
er specialised communities (i.e. linked by a single and hold discussions in forums. Geosocial network-
common interest eg TheSocialGolfer, ACountryLife. ing co-opts internet mapping services to organize
Com, Great Cooks Community) or they can be large user participation around geographic features and
generic social networking sites (eg MySpace, Face- their attributes.
book etc).
There is also a trend for more interoperability be-
However, whether specialised or generic there is tween social networks led by technologies such
commonality across the general approach of so- as OpenID and OpenSocial. Lately, mobile social
cial networking sites. Users can upload a picture of networking has become popular. In most mobile
themselves, create their ‘profile’ and can often be communities, mobile phone users can now create
“friends” with other users. In most social network- their own profiles, make friends, participate in chat
ing services, both users must confirm that they are rooms, create chat rooms, hold private conversa-
friends before they are linked. For example, if Alice tions, share photos and videos, and share blogs by
lists Bob as a friend, then Bob would have to ap- using their mobile phone. Mobile phone users are
prove Alice’s friend request before they are listed basically open to every option that someone sitting
as friends. Some social networking sites have a “fa- on the computer has. Some companies provide
vorites” feature that does not need approval from wireless services which allow their customers to
the other user. Social networks usually have privacy build their own mobile community and brand it, but
controls that allows the user to choose who can one of the most popular wireless services for social
view their profile or contact them, etc. networking in North America is Facebook Mobile.
Other companies provide new innovative features
Several social networks in Asian markets such as In- which extend the social networking experience into
dia, China, Japan and Korea have reached not only the real world.
a high usage but also a high level of profitability.
Services such as QQ (China), Mixi (Japan), Cyworld
(Korea) or the mobile-focused service Mobile Game
Town by the company DeNA in Japan (which has
over 10 million users) are all profitable, setting them
apart from their western counterparts.
Business model of these sites to an individual, may be taken.

Few social networks currently charge money for Furthermore, there is an issue over the control of
membership. In part, this may be because social data - information having been altered or removed
networking is a relatively new service, and the value by the user may in fact be retained and/or passed to
of using them has not been firmly established in 3rd parties. This danger was highlighted when the
customers’ minds. Companies such as MySpace and controversial social networking site Quechup har-
Facebook sell online advertising on their site. Hence, vested e-mail addresses from users’ e-mail accounts
they are seeking large memberships, and charg- for use in a spamming operation.
ing for membership would be counter productive.
Some believe that the deeper information that the In medical and scientific research, asking subjects
sites have on each user will allow much better tar- for information about their behaviors is normally
geted advertising than any other site can currently strictly scrutinized by institutional review boards, for
provide. Sites are also seeking other ways to make example, to ensure that adolescents and their par-
money, such as by creating an online marketplace ents have informed consent. It is not clear whether
(Facebook’s Marketplace) or by selling professional the same rules apply to researchers who collect
information and social connections to businesses: data from social networking sites. These sites often
such as LinkedIn. contain a great deal of data that is hard to obtain via
traditional means. Even though the data are public,
Social networks operate under an autonomous republishing it in a research paper might be consid-
business model, in which a social network’s mem- ered invasion of privacy.
bers serve dual roles as both the suppliers and the
consumers of content. This is in contrast to a tra- Investigations
ditional business model, where the suppliers and
consumers are distinct agents. Revenue is typically Social network services are increasingly being used
gained in the autonomous business model via ad- in legal and criminal investigations. Information
vertisements, but subscription-based revenue is posted on sites such as MySpace and Facebook has
possible when membership and content levels are been used by police, probation, and university of-
sufficiently high. ficials to prosecute users of said sites. In some situ-
ations, content posted on MySpace has been used
Other business models such as including digital in court.
goods (personalization, avatars, background mu-
sic, skins, gifts, etc.), connection with casual games Facebook is increasingly being used by school ad-
(on QQ in China or Mobile Game Town in Japan), or ministrations and law enforcement agencies as a
link to mobile first made successful in Asia. QQ’s rev- source of evidence against student users. The site,
enues in 2007 were US$523 million and a US$225 the number one online destination for college stu-
million profit. dents, allows users to create profile pages with per-
sonal details. These pages can be viewed by other
Privacy registered users from the same school which often
include resident assistants and campus police who
On large social networking services, there have have signed-up for the service.
been growing concerns about users giving out too
much personal information and the threat of sexual Potential for misuse
predators. Users of these services need to be aware
of data theft or viruses. However, large services, The relative freedom afforded by social networking
such as MySpace, often work with law enforcement services has caused concern regarding the poten-
to try to prevent such incidents. tial of its misuse by individual patrons. In October
2006, a fake Myspace profile created in the name of
In addition, there is a perceived privacy threat in Josh Evans by Lori Janine Drew led to the suicide
relation to placing too much personal information of Megan Meier. The event incited global concern
in the hands of large corporations or governmental regarding the use of social networking services for
bodies, allowing a profile to be produced on an in- bullying purposes.
dividual’s behavior on which decisions, detrimental
In July 2008, a Briton, Grant Raphael, was ordered members to share their other social network activi-
to pay a total of GBP £22,000 (about USD $44,000) ties like Twitter, Youtube, Stumbleupon, Digg, and
for libel and breach of privacy. Raphael had posted other major platforms.
a fake page on Facebook purporting to be that of
a former schoolfriend Matthew Firsht, with whom One can also integrate their blog posts and com-
Raphael had fallen out in 2000. The page falsely ments in the aggregation platform. Everything
claimed that Firsht was homosexual and that he is shown in real time to other members who sub-
was dishonest. scribe to a particular community, which eliminates
the need to jump from one social media network to
At the same, genuine use of social networking ser- another, trying to keep an eye on one’s interests. [5]
vices has been treated with suspicion on the ground The aggregation is done by an API application. For
of the services’ misuse. In September 2008, the the API to be able to access a users actions from
profile of Australian Facebook user Elmo Keep was another platform, the user will have to give permis-
banned by the site’s administrators on the grounds sion to the social aggregation platform, by specify-
that it violated the site’s terms of use. Keep is one of ing user id and password of the social media to be
several users of Facebook who were banned from syndicated. This concept is similar to open id.
the site on the presumption that their names aren’t
real, as they bear resemblance the names of char- Distributed social networking
acters like Sesame Street’s Elmo. The misuse of so-
cial networking services has led many to cast doubt In March 2008, The Economist reported that social
over whether any information on these services can network services are only beginning the move away
in fact be regarded as true. from “walled gardens” to more open architectures.
Some sites are working together on a “data porta-
bility workgroup”, while others are focussing on a
Social Networking Aggregation single sign-on system called OpenID to allow users
to log on across multiple sites. Historically the trend
Social network aggregation is the process of col- from private services to more open ones can be
lecting content from multiple social network ser- seen across many internet services from email and
vices, such as MySpace or Facebook. The task is instant messaging to the move that early online ser-
often performed by a social network aggregator, vice providers made to become websites..
which pulls together information into a single loca-
tion[1], or helps a user consolidate multiple social The OpenSocial initiative aims to bridge the mem-
networking profiles into one profile. Various aggre- ber overlap between various online social network
gation services provide tools or widgets to allow us- services.
ers to consolidate messages, track friends, combine
bookmarks, search across multiple social network- Overlap between multiple social network
ing sites, read rss feeds for multiple social networks,
see when their name is mentioned on various sites,
access their profiles from a single interface, provide
Many users have accounts on several different social
“lifestreams”, etc
networking sites. In November 2007, Alex Patriquin
of reported on the member overlap
Social network aggregation services attempt to or-
between various online social network services:
ganize or simplify a user’s social networking expe-
rience although the idea has been satirized by the
Members of Bebo
concept of a “social network aggregator aggrega-
65% are MySpace members.
25% are Facebook members.
3% are Hi5 members.
Social Networking Aggregators 2% are Friendster members.
1% are LinkedIn members.
FriendFeed, Gathera, Youmeo, Spokeo and Second- 1% are Ning members.
brain are examples of social network aggregators. 0% are Orkut members.
Social network aggregation platforms like Myblo- 0% are Plaxo members.
glog, a Yahoo property, Plaxo, Jaiku or others, allow
Members of Facebook Members of Ning
64% are MySpace members. 44% are MySpace members.
9% are Plaxo members. 35% are Facebook members.
4% are Bebo members. 19% are LinkedIn members.
2% are Friendster members. 6% are Bebo members.
2% are Hi5 members. 6% are Friendster members.
2% are LinkedIn members. 2% are Orkut members.
1% are Ning members. 2% are Plaxo members.
1% are Orkut members. 1% are Hi5 members.

Members of Friendster Members of Orkut

49% are MySpace members. 29% are MySpace members.
23% are Facebook members. 26% are Facebook members.
6% are LinkedIn members. 8% are LinkedIn members.
5% are Bebo members. 7% are Hi5 members.
4% are Hi5 members. 4% are Friendster members.
2% are Ning members. 3% are Bebo members.
1% are Orkut members. 2% are Ning members.
0% are Plaxo members. 1% are Plaxo members.

Members of Hi5 Members of Plaxo

69% are MySpace members. 54% are LinkedIn members.
24% are Facebook members. 48% are Facebook members.
7% are Bebo members. 34% are MySpace members.
4% are Friendster members. 14% are Ning members.
2% are Orkut members. 8% are Friendster members.
1% are LinkedIn members. 5% are Bebo members.
0% are Ning members. 4% are Orkut members.
0% are Plaxo members. 2% are Hi5 members.

Members of LinkedIn
42% are Facebook members.
32% are MySpace members.
8% are Friendster members.
8% are Ning members. Instant messaging · Internet
4% are Bebo members.
3% are Orkut members.
3% are Plaxo members. Instant messaging (IM) is a form of real-time com-
2% are Hi5 members. munication between two or more people based on
typed text. The text is conveyed via devices con-
Members of MySpace nected over a network such as the Internet.
20% are Facebook members.
3% are Bebo members.
1% are Friendster members.
1% are Hi5 members.
Instant messaging (IM) and chat are technologies
0% are LinkedIn members.
that create the possibility of real-time text-based
0% are Ning members.
communication between two or more participants
0% are Orkut members.
over the internet or some form of internal network/
0% are Plaxo members.
intranet. It is important to understand that what
separates chat and instant messaging from technol-
ogies such as e-mail is the perceived synchronicity
of the communication by the user - Chat happens in
real-time before your eyes.
Some systems allow the sending of messages to
people not currently logged on (offline messages),
thus removing much of the difference between In-
stant Messaging and e-mail.

While many services have additional features such

as: the immediate receipt of acknowledgment or
reply, group chatting, conference services (includ-
ing voice and video), conversation logging and file
transfer, those functions are beyond the scope of
this article.

IM allows effective and efficient communication, In early instant messaging programs each
featuring immediate receipt of acknowledgment character appeared when it was typed.
or reply. In certain cases Instant Messaging involves The UNIX “talk”command shown in these
additional features, which make it even more pop- screenshots was popular inthe
ular, i.e. to see the other party, e.g. by using web- 1980s and early 1990s.
cams, or to talk directly for free over the Internet.
It is possible to save a conversation for later refer- While the Quantum Link service ran on a Commo-
ence. Instant messages are typically logged in a dore 64, using only the Commodore’s PETSCII text-
local message history which closes the gap to the graphics, the screen was visually divided up into
persistent nature of e-mails and facilitates quick ex- sections and OLMs would appear as a yellow bar
change of information like URLs or document snip- saying “Message From:” and the name of the sender
pets (which can be unwieldy when communicated along with the message across the top of whatever
via telephone). the user was already doing, and presented a list of
options for responding. As such, it could be consid-
History ered a sort of GUI, albeit much more primitive than
the later Unix, Windows and Macintosh based GUI
Instant messaging actually predates the Internet, IM programs. OLMs were what Q-Link called “Plus
first appearing on multi-user operating systems like Services” meaning they charged an extra per-min-
CTSS and Multics[1] in the mid-1960s. Initially, many ute fee on top of the monthly Q-Link access costs.
of these systems, such as CTSS’.SAVED, were used Modern, Internet-wide, GUI-based messaging cli-
as notification systems for services like printing, ents, as they are known today, began to take off in
but quickly were used to facilitate communication the mid 1990s with ICQ (1996) being the first, fol-
with other users logged in to the same machine. As lowed by AOL Instant Messenger (AOL Instant Mes-
networks developed, the protocols spread with the senger, 1997).
networks. Some of these used a peer-to-peer proto-
col (eg talk, ntalk and ytalk), while others required AOL later acquired Mirabilis, the creators of ICQ.
peers to connect to a server (see talker and IRC). A few years later ICQ (by now owned by AOL) was
During the Bulletin board system (BBS) phenom- awarded two patents for instant messaging by the
enon that peaked during the 1980s, some systems U.S. patent office. Meanwhile, other companies
incorporated chat features which were similar to developed their own applications (Excite, MSN,
instant messaging; Freelancin’ Roundtable was one Ubique, and Yahoo), each with its own proprietary
prime example. protocol and client; users therefore had to run mul-
tiple client applications if they wished to use more
In the last half of the 1980s and into the early 1990s, than one of these networks. In 1998 IBM released
the Quantum Link online service for Commodore 64 IBM Lotus Sametime, a product based on technolo-
computers offered user-to-user messages between gy acquired when IBM bought Haifa-based Ubique
currently connected customers which they called and Lexington-based Databeam.
“On-Line Messages” (or OLM for short). Quantum
Link’s better known later incarnation, America On- In 2000, an open source application and open stan-
line, offers a similar product under the name “AOL dards-based protocol called Jabber was launched.
Instant Messenger” (AIM). Jabber servers could act as gateways to other
IM protocols, reducing the need to run multiple cli- IM providers (AOL, Yahoo! and Microsoft) have
ents. Multi-protocol clients can use any of the pop- failed and each continues to use its own proprietary
ular IM protocols by using additional local libraries protocol.
for each protocol. IBM Lotus Sametime’s November
2007 release added IBM Lotus Sametime Gateway However, while discussions at IETF were stalled,
support for XMPP. Reuters head of collaboration services, David Gurle
(the founder of Microsoft’s Real Time Communica-
Recently, many instant messaging services have be- tion and Collaboration business), signed the first
gun to offer video conferencing features, Voice Over inter-service provider connectivity agreement on
IP (VoIP) and web conferencing services. Web con- September 2003. This agreement enabled AIM, ICQ
ferencing services integrate both video conferenc- and MSN Messenger users to talk with Reuters Mes-
ing and instant messaging capabilities. Some newer saging counterparts and vice-versa against an ac-
instant messaging companies are offering desktop cess fee. Following this, Microsoft, Yahoo! and AOL
sharing, IP radio, and IPTv to voice and video fea- came to a deal where Microsoft’s Live Communica-
tures. tion Server 2005 users would also have the possi-
bility to talk to public instant messaging users. This
The term “instant messenger” is a service mark of deal established SIP/SIMPLE as a standard for proto-
Time Warner and may not be used in software not col interoperability and established a connectivity
affiliated with AOL in the United States. For this rea- fee for accessing public instant messaging clouds.
son, the instant messaging client formerly known Separately, on October 13, 2005 Microsoft and Ya-
as Gaim or gaim announced in April 2007 that they hoo! announced that by (the Northern Hemisphere)
would be renamed “Pidgin” summer of 2006 they would interoperate using SIP/
SIMPLE which is followed on December 2005 by the
AOL and Google strategic partnership deal where
Cooperation Google Talk users would be able to talk with AIM and
ICQ users provided they have an identity at AOL.
Standard free instant messaging applications offer
functions like file transfer, contact lists, the ability There are two ways to combine the many disparate
to have simultaneous conversations etc These may protocols:
be all the functions that a small business needs but
larger organisations will require more sophisticated 1. One way is to combine the many disparate proto-
applications that can work together. The solution cols inside 1. the IM client application.
to finding applications capable of this is to use en-
terprise versions of instant messaging applications. 2. The other way is to combine the many disparate
These include titles like Jabber, Lotus Sametime, Mi- protocols inside the IM server application. This ap-
crosoft Office Communicator, etc., which are often proach moves the task of communicating to the
integrated with other enterprise applications such other services to the server. Clients need not know
as workflow systems. These enterprise applications, or care about other IM protocols.
or Enterprise Application Integration (EAI), are built
to certain constraints, namely storing data in a com- For example, LCS 2005 Public IM Connectivity. This
mon format. approach is popular in Jabber/XMPP servers how-
ever the so-called transport projects suffer the same
There have been several attempts to create a unified reverse engineering difficulties as any other project
standard for instant messaging: IETF’s SIP (Session involved with closed protocols or formats.
Initiation Protocol) and SIMPLE (SIP for Instant Mes-
saging and Presence Leveraging Extensions), APEX Some approaches allow organizations to create
(Application Exchange), Prim (Presence and Instant their own private instant messaging network by en-
Messaging Protocol), the open XML-based XMPP abling them tolimit access to the server (often with
(Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol), more the IM network entirely behind their firewall) and
commonly known as Jabber and OMA’s (Open Mo- administer user permissions. Other corporate mes-
bile Alliance) IMPS (Instant Messaging and Presence saging systems allow registered users to also con-
Service) created specifically for mobile devices. Most nect from outside the corporation LAN, by using a
attempts at creating a unified standard for the major secure firewall-friendly HTTPS based protocol.
Typically, a dedicated corporate IM server has sev- keystrokes. The language has become universal,
eral advantages such as pre-populated contact lists, with well known expressions such as ‘lol’ translated
integrated authentication, and better security and over to face to face language. Emotions are often
privacy. expressed in shorthand, such as the abbreviation
LOL. Some, however, attempt to be more accurate
Some networks have made changes to prevent with emotional expression over IM. Real time reac-
them from being utilized by such multi-network IM tions such as (chortle) (snort) (guffaw) or (eye-roll)
clients. For example, Trillian had to release several are becoming more popular. Also there are certain
revisions and patches to allow its users to access standards that are being introduced into main-
the MSN, AOL, and Yahoo! networks, after changes stream conversations including, ‘#’ indicates the use
were made to these networks. The major IM provid- of sarcasm in a statement and ‘*’ which indicates a
ers typically cite the need for formal agreements spelling mistake and/or grammatical error in the
as well as security concerns as reasons for making previous message, followed by a correction.
these changes.

Mobile instant messaging

Social Implications
Mobile Instant Messaging (MIM) is a presence en-
abled messaging service that aims to transpose the Now that we have read about the generic process-
desktop messaging experience to the usage scenar- es that are present in the “online presence” phe-
io of being on the move. While several of the core nomenon let us look into the social implications of
ideas of the desktop experience on one hand apply online communication throgh some extracts from
to a connected mobile device, others do not: Users a dissertation , the link to the dissertation is avail-
usually only look at their phone’s screen — pres- able at the end of this document. I do not claim any
ence status changes might occur under different credit to the dissertatiion and am including it just
circumstances as happens at the desktop, and sev- beacuse it makes a relevant and interesting read.
eral functional limits exist based on the fact that the
vast majority of mobile communication devices are
chosen by their users to fit into the palm of their
hand. Some of the form factor and mobility related 1. Traditional forms of human interaction have
differences need to be taken into account in order their codes of etiquette. We are all brought up to
to create a really adequate, powerful and yet conve- behave according to the demands of social context.
nient mobile experience: radio bandwidth, memory We know, as if instinctively, when it is appropriate
size, availability of media formats, keypad based in- to flirt, to be respectful, to be angry, or silent. The
put, screen output, CPU performance and battery information on which we decide which aspects of
power are core issues that desktop device users and our systems of social conduct are appropriate to our
even nomadic users with connected network. circumstances are more often physical than verbal.
Place and time are perceptions of a physical real-
Friend-to-friend networks ity that are not dependent on statements made by
other people. We do not need to be told that we
Instant Messaging may be done in a Friend-to- are at a wedding, and should be quiet during the
friend network, in which each node connects to the ceremony, in order to enact the code of etiquette
friends on the friends list. This allows for communi- that our culture reserves for such occasions. “Being
cation with friends of friends and for the building of cultured” says Greg Dening, “we are experts in our
chatrooms for instant messages with all friends on semiotics... we read sign and symbol [and] codify
that network. a thousand words in a gesture.”(24) In interacting
with other people, we rely on non-verbal informa-
tion to delineate a context for our own contribu-
IM language tions. Smiles, frowns, tones of voice, posture and
dress - Geertz’s “significant symbols” - tell us more
Users sometimes make use of internet slang or text about the social context within which we are placed
speak to abbreviate common words or expressions in than do the statements of the people we socialise
order to quicken conversations or to reduce with.(25) Language does not express the full play
of our interpersonal exchanges - which, continues medium, and with few social context cues to indi-
Dening, “are expressed in terms of address, in types cate ‘proper’ ways to behave, users are able to ex-
of clothing, in postures and facial expressions, in press and experiment with aspects of their personal-
appeals to rules and ways of doing things.”(26) The ity that social inhibition would generally encourage
words themselves tell only half the story - it is their them to suppress:
presentation that completes the picture.
IRC encourages disinhibition. The lack of social con-
Internet Relay Chat, however, deals only in words. text cues in computer-mediated communication ob-
Computer- mediated communication relies only scures the boundaries that would generally separate
upon words as a channel of meaning.(27) “Comput- acceptable and unacceptable forms of behaviour. Fur-
er-mediated communication has at least two inter- thermore, the essential physical impression of each
esting characteristics:” writes Kiesler, “(a) a paucity user that he is alone releases him from the social ex-
of social context information and (b) few widely pectations incurred in group interaction. Computer-
shared norms governing its use.”(28) Users of these mediated communication is less bound by conventions
systems are unable to rely on the conventions of than is face-to-face interaction. With little regulating
gesture and nuances of tone to provide social feed- feedback to govern behaviour, users behave in ways
back. They cannot rely upon the conventional sys- that would not generally be acceptable with people
tems of interaction if they are to make sense to one who are essentially total strangers.
another. Words, as we use them in speech, fail to ex-
press what they really mean once they are deprived The lack of self-regulation amongst users of IRC can
of the subtleties of speech and the non- verbal cues be both positive and negative, as far as interaction
that we assume will accompany it. Internet Relay is concerned. The safety of anonymity can “reduce
Chat is synchronous, as is face-to-face interaction, self-consciousness and promote intimacy” between
but it is unable to transmit the non-verbal aspects people who might not otherwise have had the chance
of speech that conventions of synchronous com- to become close.(38) It can also encourage “flaming”,
munication demand. It is not only the meanings of which Kiesler, Siegel and McGuire define as the gra-
sentences that become problematic in computer- tuitous and uninhibited making of “remarks contain-
mediated communication. The standards of behav- ing swearing, insults, name calling, and hostile com-
iour that are normally decided upon by non-verbal ments.”(39)
cues are not clearly indicated when information is
purely textual. Not only are smiles and frowns lost
in the translation of synchronous speech to pure
text, but factors of environment are unknown to in- 3. The corollary of Geertz’s definition of culture
terlocutors. It is not immediately apparent, in com- is that groups of people who fail to communicate do
puter-mediated communication, what forms of so- not compose a common culture. If meaning is lost in
cial etiquette are appropriate at any given time. transition from speaker to addressee, then community
is lost - “undirected by culture patterns - organized
2. Reduced Self-Regulation systems of significant symbols - man’s behaviour
would be virtually ungovernable, a mere chaos of
Researchers of human behaviour on computer- pointless acts and exploding emotions, his experi-
mediated communication systems have often not- ence virtually shapeless.”(61) In order for IRC users
ed that users of such systems tend to behave in a to constitute a community it is necessary for them to
more uninhibited manner than they would in face- contrive a method to circumvent the possibility of loss
to- face encounters. Sproull and Kiesler state that of intended meaning of statements. Verbalisation of
computer-mediated behaviour “is relatively unin- physical condition is that method. Interlocutors will
hibited and nonconforming.”(34) Kielser, Siegel and describe what their reactions to specific statements
McGuire have observed that “people in computer- would be were they in physical contact. Of course,
mediated groups were more uninhibited than they this stylized description of action is not intended to be
were in face-to-face groups.”(35) Rice and Love taken as a literal description of the speakers’ physical
suggest that “disinhibition” may occur “because of actions, which are, obviously, typing at a keyboard
the lack of social control that nonverbal cues pro- and staring at a monitor. Rather they are meant to rep-
vide.”(36) Internet Relay Chat reflects this observa- resent what would be their actions were the virtual
tion. Protected by the anonymity of the computer reality of IRC an actual reality. Without some way
compensating for the inherent lack of social con- 4. The sanctions available to the IRC commu-
text cues in computer-mediated communication, nity for use against errant members are both social
IRC would get no further than the deconstruction and structural. The degree to which members feel,
of conventional social boundaries. The textual as ‘Allison’ did, a sense of shame for actions which
cues utilised on IRC provide the symbols of inter- abuse the systems of meaning devised by the IRC
pretation and discourse that the users of IRC have community, is related to the degree to which they
devised to ‘meet specific problems posed by situa- participate in the deconstruction of traditional so-
tions they face in common.’ Without these textual cial conventions. By being uninhibited, by experi-
cues to substitute for non-verbal language, the menting with cultural norms of gender and reci-
users of IRC would fail to constitute a community - procity in relationships, ‘Allison’ became a part of
with them, they do. a social network that encourages self-exposure by
The users of IRC often utilise a ‘shorthand’ for the simulating anonymity and therefore invulnerabil-
description of physical condition. They (in common ity. In this case, the systems of meaning created by
with users of other computer-mediated communi- the users of IRC have become conventions with a
cation systems such as news and email) have de- terrorizing authority over those who participate in
veloped a system of presenting textual characters their use. As I shall describe, users of IRC who flout
as representations of physical action. Commonly the conventions of the medium are ostracised, ban-
known as ‘smileys’, CMC users employ alphanumer- ished from the community. The way to redemption
ic characters and punctuation symbols to create for such erring members is through a process of
strings of highly emotively charged keyboard art: guilt and redemption; through, in ‘Allison’s’ case, a
‘public’ ritual of self-accusation, confession, repen-
:-) or : ) a smiling face, as viewed side-on tance and atonement.
;-) or ; ) a winking, smiling face
:-( or : ( an ‘unsmiley’: an unhappy face IRC supports mechanisms for the enforcement of
:-(*) someone about to throw up acceptable behaviour on IRC. Channel operators -
8-) someone whose eyes are opened wide ‘chanops’ or ‘chops’ - have access to the /kick com-
in surprise. mand, which throws a specified user out of the giv-
:-P someone sticking out their tongue en channel. IRC operators - ‘opers’ - have the ability
>:-O someone screaming in fright, their to ‘kill’ users, to break the network link that connects
hair them to IRC. The code of etiquette for doing so is
standing on end outlined in the documentation that is part of the
:-X someone whose lips are sealed IRC program:
@}-`-,-`-- a rose
Obnoxious users had best beware the opera-
These ‘emoticons’ are many and various.(62) Al- tor who’s fast on the /kill command. “/kill nickname”
though the most commonly used is the plain blows any given nickname completely out of the
smiling face - used to denote pleasure or amuse- chat system. Obnoxiousness is not to be tolerated.
ment, or to soften a sarcastic comment - it is com- But operators do not use /kill lightly.(67)
mon for IRC users to develop their own emoticons,
adapting the symbols available on the standard There is a curious paradox in the concomitant usage
keyboard to create minute and essentially ephem- of the words ‘obnoxious’ and ‘kill’. Obnoxiousness
eral pieces of textual art to represent their own seems a somewhat trivial term to warrant the use of
virtual actions and responses. Such inventiveness such textually violent commands such as /kick and
and lateral thinking demands skill. Successful com- /kill. The word trivialises the degree to which abu-
munication within IRC depends on the use of such sive behaviour, deceit, and shame can play a part
conventions as verbalised action and the use of in interaction on Internet Relay Chat. The existence
emoticons. Personal success on IRC, then, depends of such negative behaviour and emotions is played
on the user’s ability to manipulate these tools. The down, denigrated - what is stressed is the measures
users who can succinctly and graphically portray that can be taken by the ‘authorities’ - the chanops
themselves to the rest of the IRC usership will be and opers - on IRC. Violators of the integrity of the
most able to create a community within that vir- IRC system are marginalised, outcast, described so
tual system. as to seem insignificant, but their potential for dis-
rupting the IRC community is suggested by the
emotive strength of the words with which they are
punished. The terms ‘killing’ and ‘kicking’ substitute
for their physical counterparts - IRC users may be
safe from physical threat, but the community sanc-
tions of violence and restraint are there, albeit in
textualised form.

Operators have adopted their own code of eti- Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a form of real-time Inter-
quette regarding /kills. It is the general rule that an net chat or synchronous conferencing. It is mainly
operator issuing such a command should let other designed for group communication in discussion
operators, and the victim, know the reason for his forums called channels, but also allows one-to-one
or her action by adding a comment to the ‘/kill mes- communication via private message, as well as chat
sage’ that fellow operators will receive: and data transfers via Direct Client-to-Client.
*** Notice -- Received KILL message for I4982784 IRC was created by Jarkko Oikarinen in late August
from MaryD (Obscene Dumps!!!) 1988 to replace a program called MUT (MultiUser
*** Notice -- Received KILL message for mic from talk) on a BBS called OuluBox in Finland. Oikarinen
mgp (massive abusive channel dumping involv- found inspiration in a chat system known as Bitnet
ing lots of ctrl-gs and gaybashing, amongst other Relay, which operated on the BITNET.
almost as obnoxious stuff )
*** Notice -- Received KILL message for JP from IRC was used to report on the Soviet coup attempt
Cyberman ((repeatedely ignorning warnings to of 1991 throughout a media blackout.[1] It was pre-
stop nickname abuse))(68) viously used in a similar fashion during the Iraqi in-
vasion. Logs of these events, and other events, are
There is no technical reason why such comments kept in the ibiblio archive.[2]
or excuses should be given - they are purely a ‘cour-
tesy’. Those in authority on IRC have self-imposed IRC client software is available for virtually every
codes of behaviour which supposedly serve to en- computer operating system.Let us look further into
sure that operator privileges are not abused. the structure of irc.
Let us now look at 3 examples of such services
namely irc, orkut and yahoo messenger and what Commands and replies
are the reasons that they are enjoying success or
having a hard time surviving in the ever changing IRC is based on a line-based structure with the client
web. sending single-line messages to the server, receiv-
ing replies to those messages and receiving copies
of some messages sent by other clients. In most cli-
ents users can enter
commands by prefixing them with /. Depending on
the command, these may either be handled entirely
by the
client, or - generally for commands the client does
not recognize - passed directly to the server, pos-
sibly with
some modification.
Due to the nature of the protocol, it is impossible for
automated systems to pair a sent command with its
The basic means of communication in an estab-
lished IRC session is a channel. Channels in a server
can be
displayed using the command /list [#string] [-min #]
[-max #] that lists all currently available channels,
optionally filtering for parameters (#string for the Workarounds for this are possible on both the client
entire or part of the name, with wildcards, and #min and server side but none are widely implemented.
/ #max for number of users in the channel).
Many IRCd programmers have added extra modes
Users can join to a channel using the command / or modified the behavior of modes in the above list
join #channelname and send messages to it, which so it is strongly advisable to check the documenta-
are relayed to all other users on the same channel. tion of the IRC network or IRCd (though note that
Channels that are available across an entire IRC net- the network may have patched the IRCd) for more
work are prepended with a ‘ # ‘, while those local to detailed information on what the modes do on a
a server use ‘&’. Other non-standard and less com- particular server or network.
mon channel types include ‘+’ channels — ‘mode-
less’ channels without operators, and ‘!’ channels, IRC operators
a form of timestamped channel on normally non-
timestamped networks. There are also users who maintain elevated rights
on their local server, or the entire network; these
Modes are called IRC Operators, sometimes shortened to
IRCops. On some IRC implementations, IRC opera-
Users and channels may have modes, which are rep- tors are also given channel operator status in every
resented by single case-sensitive letters and are set channel, although many people believe that admin-
using the mode command. User modes and channel istration of channels and administration of the net-
modes are separate and can use the same letter to work should be kept separate, and that IRC opera-
mean different things (e.g. usermode “i” is invisible tor status does not confer the right to interfere with
mode whilst channelmode “i” is invite only). Modes a particular channel’s operation. However in most
are usually set and unset using the mode command networks, IRC operators usually do not interfere
which takes a target (user or channel), a set of modes with channel administrations unless they violate
to set (+) or unset (-) and any parameters the modes the network’s terms of services.
need. Some but not all channel modes take param-
eters and some channel modes apply to a user on a Challenges
channel or add or remove a mask (e.g. a ban mask)
from a list associated with the channel rather than Issues in the original design of IRC were the amount
applying to the channel as a whole. Modes that ap- of shared state data[6] being a limitation on its scal-
ply to users on a channel have an associated sym- ability,[7] the absence of unique user identifications
bol which is used to represent the mode in names leading to the nickname collision problem,[8] lack
replies (sent to clients on first joining a channel and
of protection from netsplits by means of cyclic rout-
use of the names command) and in most clients to ing,[9][10] the trade-off in scalability for the sake of
represent it in this list of users in the channel. real-time user presence information,[11] protocol
weaknesses providing a platform for abuse,[12] no
In order to correctly parse incoming mode messages transparent and optimizable message passing,[13]
and track channel state the client must know which no encryption.[14] Some of these issues have been
mode is of which type and for the modes that ap- addressed in Modern IRC.
ply to a user on a channel which symbol goes with
which letter. In early implementations of IRC this
had to be hard-coded in the client but there is now
a de-facto standard extension to the protocol which
Because IRC connections are usually unencrypted
sends this information to the client at connect time.
and typically span long time periods, they are an
There is a small design fault in IRC regarding modes
attractive target for malicious crackers. Because of
that apply to users on channels, the names message
this, careful security policy is necessary to ensure
used to establish initial channel state can only send
that an IRC network is not susceptible to an attack
one such mode per user on the channel, but mul-
such as an IRC takeover war. IRC networks may also
tiple such modes can be set on a single user. For ex-
k-line or g-line users or networks that have a harm-
ample, if a user holds both operator status (+o) and
ing effect.
voice status (+v) on a channel, a new client will be
unable to know the less precedented mode (voice).
A small number of IRC servers support SSL
connections for security purposes. This helps stop The idea behind this was that even if a netsplit oc-
the use of packet sniffer programs to obtain the curred, it was useless to an abuser because they
passwords of IRC users, but has little use beyond could not take the nickname or gain operator status
this scope due to the public nature of IRC channels. on a channel, and thus no collision of a nickname or
SSL connections require both client and server sup- ‘merging’ of a channel could occur. To some extent,
port (which may require the user to install SSL bina- this inconvenienced legitimate users, who might be
ries and IRC client specific patches or modules on forced to briefly use a different name (appending an
their computers). underscore was popular) after rejoining.

IRC served as an early laboratory for many kinds of Timestamping

Internet attacks, such as using fake ICMP unreach-
able messages to break TCP-based IRC connections The alternative, the timestamp or TS protocol, took a
(nuking) to annoy users or facilitate takeovers. different approach. Every nickname and channel on
the network was assigned a timestamp – the date
Abuse prevention and time when it was created. When a netsplit oc-
curred, two users on each side were free to use the
One of the most contentious technical issues sur- same nickname or channel, but when the two sides
rounding IRC implementations, which survives were joined, only one could survive. In the case of
to this day, is the merit of “Nick/Channel Delay” nicknames, the newer user, according to their TS,
vs. “Timestamp” protocols. Both methods exist to was killed; when a channel collided, the members
solve the problem of denialof- service attacks, but (users on the channel) were merged, but the chan-
take very different approaches. The problem with nel operators on the “losing” side of the split lost
the original IRC protocol as implemented was that their channel operator status.
when two servers split and rejoined, thetwo sides
of the network would simply merge their channels. TS is a much more complicated protocol than ND/
If a user could join on a “split” server, where a chan- CD, both in design and implementation, and de-
nel which existed on the other side of the network spite having gone through several revisions, some
was empty, and gain operator status, they would implementations still have problems with “desyncs”
become (where two servers on the same network disagree
about the current state of the network), and allow-
a channel operator of the “combined” channel after ing too much leniency in what was allowed by the
the netsplit ended; if a user took a nickname which ‘losing’ side. Under the original TS protocols, for ex-
existed on the other side of the network, the server ample, there was no protection against users setting
would kill both users when rejoining (i.e., ‘nick-col- bans or other modes in the losing channel which
lision’). This was often abused to “mass-kill” all users would then be merged when the split rejoined,
on a channel, thus creating “opless” channels where even though the users who had set those modes
no operators were present to deal with abuse. Apart lost their channel operator status. Some modern
from causing problems within IRC, this encouraged TS-based IRC servers have also incorporated some
people to conduct denial of service attacks against form of ND and/or CD in addition to timestamping
IRC servers in order to cause netsplits, which they in an attempt to further curb abuse.
would then abuse.
Most networks today use the timestamping ap-
Nick/channel delay proach. The timestamp versus ND/CD disagree-
ments caused several servers to split away from EF-
The nick/channel delay (abbreviated ND/CD) solu- net and form the newer IRCnet. After the split, EFnet
tion to this problem was very simple. After a user moved to a TS protocol, while IRCnet used ND/CD.
signed off and the nickname became available, or a
channel ceased to exist because all its users left (as
often happens during a netsplit), the server would
not allow any user to use that nickname or join that
channel, respectively, until a certain period of time
(the delay) had passed.
Reasons for Downfall

The irc network was successful during 1970’s to

1980’s reaching its peak around 1995 but the intro-
ductio of newer protocols privatised by companies
which offered a lot of additional features led to tre-
mendous user attrition.
Orkut is a social networking service which is run by
Also the split of 1996 where the US and European Google and named after its creator, an employee of
servers seperated to form two seperate network Google - Orkut Büyükkökten. The service states that
regulation systems was a big blow to the irc. it was designed to help users meet new friends and
maintain existing relationships.
Also the very base of common minded people was
being attacked as more and more people joined irc Orkut is similar to other networking sites. Since Oc-
and mos of them had little or no computer knowl- tober 2006, Orkut has permitted users to create ac-
edge as compared to the 70’s and the 80’s. counts without an invitation. Orkut is the most vis-
ited website in Brazil and second most visited site in
Keeping a server dedicated to irc became costlier India. A large percentage of users in India are high
and more and more legal hassles were springing up school and college students. The initial target mar-
due to the unencrypted nature of the irc. ket for Orkut was the United States, but the major-
ity of its users are in Brazil and India.[2] In fact, as
of May 2008, 53.86% of Orkut’s users are from Bra-
zil, followed by India with 16.97%[3] and 23.4% of
the traffic comes from Brazil, followed by India with
18.0%.[4] Unlike Facebook and Friendster, it is not
a popular website in the United States of America
and Canada.

Originally hosted in California, in August 2008

Google announced that Orkut will be fully man-
aged and operated in Brazil, by Google Brazil. This
was decided due to the large Brazilian user base
and growth of legal issues.

A user first creates a “Profile”, in which the user pro-
vides “Social”, “Professional” and “Personal” details.
Users can upload photos into their Orkut profile
with a caption. Users can also add videos to their
profile from either YouTube or Google Video with
the additional option of creating either restricted or
unrestricted polls for polling

a community of users.There is an option to i

ntegrate GTalk (An instant messenger from Google) When a user logs in, they see the people in their
with Orkut enabling chatting and file sharing. friends list in the order of their logging in to the site,
the first person being the latest one to do so.[9] Or-
Scrapbook kut’s competitors are other social networking sites
including MySpace and Facebook. Ning is a more
“Scrapping” is popular among the Orkut community direct competitor, as they allow creation of Social
as a form of offline and online communication. In Networks which are similar to Orkut’s communities.
December 2007, the ability to pop up alerts immedi-
ately when a scrap is received was added. The scrap Reasons For Downfall
feature is sometimes used for chatting.
Since about a year now orkut has been slowly de-
Communities clining in India , this is due to many reasons the fore-
most being security issues and privacy.
Another feature of Orkut are “Communities”. Anyone
with an Orkut account can create a community on The scrapping methodology is a eonderful freevec-
anything. One can post topics, inform users about tor to deliver virusses. Also untill recently the pho-
an event, ask them questions or just play games. tos and personal stuff that a personal puts on orkut
There are more than one million communities on was free for all to view.
Orkut with topics ranging from pizza to pasta. The
first five communities on Orkut were started with- When I interviewed my friends and classmates most
in 24 hrs of the site’s launch. There were a total of also replied that orkut is not “cool’ or hip anymore
47,092,584 communities on Orkut as per March 24, mostly because someone they knew had their ac-
2008 4:25PM IST (+5:30 GMT). With the recent Addi- count hacked.
tion of the search topic feature in the communities,
some Orkut communities become the in fact source Most of them also dont know how to approach or-
for the website links to movies, e-books etc. A com- kut if they have a grievance. Taking a look at the
munity’s members may also create polls, and invite other alternatives present and the fact that an orkut
other members. account hasnt cost them anything substantial they
just skip the service and start using another one.
Other miscellaneous features
A lot of other sites like orkut have flooded the mar-
Members can make groups to join friends according ket and particularly those with affiliations to a a mu-
to their wishes. Further, each member can become sic channel are posing great threats to orkut.
fans of any of the friends in their list and can also
evaluate whether their friend is “Trustworthy”, “Cool”, even legal hassles with the government have put
“Sexy” on a scale of 1 to 3 (marked by icons) and is orkut in Bad light and the parents also are vary of
aggregated in terms of a percentage. Unlike Face- letting their wards be n orkut.
book, where a member can view profile details of
people only on their network, Orkut allows anyone
to visit anyone’s profile, unless a potential visitor is
on your “Ignore List” (This feature has been recently
changed so that users can choose between show-
ing their profile to all networks or specified ones).
Importantly, each member can also customize their
profile preferences and can restrict information
that appear on their profile from their friends and/
or others (not on the friends list). Another feature is
that any member can add any other member on Or-
kut to his/her “Crush List” and both of them will be
informed only when both parties have added each
other to their “Crush List”.
On October 29, 2007, Yahoo! Messenger an ounced
Yahoo! Messenger is an advertisement-supported the release of Yahoo! Messenger 9 Beta. It features a
instant messaging client and associated protocol new and improved interface, new emoticons (also
provided by Yahoo!. hidden emotions[3]), the integration with Flickr ac-
count and a new in-line media player which enables
Yahoo! Messenger is provided free of charge and the user to view maps, photos and videos from sites
can be downloaded and used with a generic “Ya- like Yahoo! Video and YouTube right in the IM win-
hoo! ID” which also allows access to other Yahoo! dow.[4]
services, such as Yahoo! Mail, where users can be au-
tomatically notified when they receive new email. Yahoo! has announced a partnership with Micro-
Yahoo! also offers PC-PC, PC-Phone and Phone-to- soft to join their instant messaging networks. This
PC service, file transfers, webcam hosting, text mes- would make Yahoo! Messenger compatible with
saging service, and chat rooms in various categories Microsoft’s .NET Messenger Service. It also made
Yahoo chat rooms have become almost useless due Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger compatible
to “bots”--automated clients offering female sexual with Yahoo!’s Network. This change has taken effect
services to the male members of the chat room. as of 2006-07-13 - Yahoo! Messenger has integrated
instant messaging with Windows Live Messenger
Yahoo! Messenger was originally launched under users, and is fully functional. British Telecommuni-
the name Yahoo! Pager on 1998-03-09.[1] In addi- cations’ BT Communicator software is based on Ya-
tion to instant messaging features similar to those hoo! Messenger. BT Communicator was withdrawn
offered by ICQ, it also offers (on Microsoft Windows) on 2006-12-31.[5]
features such as: IMVironments (customizing the
look of Instant Message windows, some of which Features
include authorized themes of famous cartoons such
as Garfield or Dilbert), address-book integration and
Custom Status Messages.[2] It was also the first ma- Yahoo! Voice
jor IM client to feature BUZZing and music-status.
Another recently added feature is customized ava- Yahoo! Voice is a Voice over IP PC-PC, PC-Phone and
tars. Phone-to-PC service [6], [7] provided by Yahoo! via
its Yahoo! Messenger instant messaging application.
Announcements It is also available for the Mac OS X platform [8].
Voicemail and file sharing Yahoo! added voicemail
On December 5, 2007, Yahoo! Messenger announc- and file sending capabilities to their client. File-shar-
es the release of Yahoo Messenger for Windows ing of sizes up to 2GB was added.
Vista as a Beta Release. It includes transparent Glass
Windows and a new skin and GUI for the Windows Plug-ins
Sidebar and program. Also integrated new tabs for
going between different chat windows. From Octo- As of 8.0, Yahoo! Messenger has added the ability
ber 25, 2008, Yahoo! Messenger for Vista version is for users to create plug-ins (via the use of the freely
no longer available. (http://www.ymessengerblog. available Yahoo! Messenger Plug-in SDK (http://de-
com/blog/2008/10/24/yahoomessenger- ), which are then
for-vista-version-is-no-longer-available/) hosted and showcased on the Yahoo! Plug-in gal-
lery ( .
Yahoo! Mail integration On October 16th, 2008, the Yahoo! Profiles commu-
nity rolled out a new “beta” profile network with no
Yahoo! plans to integrate Yahoo! Mail Beta and Ya- prior announcement. According to customer feed-
hoo! Messenger.[9] Conversations will be archived back, the new profiles now resemble a “stripped-
and stored in the same manner as emails. This al- down version of MASH.”
lows users to search within their chat logs easily,
and to have them centrally stored and accessible This unexpected move resulted in hundreds of
from any computer. thousands of existing profiles being cleared of all in-
formation. Although some profiles (primary identi-
Chat ties) can have this information recovered, this must
be accomplished by contacting Yahoo! Chat’s Cus-
All versions of Yahoo! Messenger have included the tomer Care department. Secondary or alternative
ability to access Yahoo! Chat rooms. On June 19, profiles, however, can not be recovered.
2005, with no advance warning, Yahoo! disabled us-
ers’ ability to create their own chat rooms. The move This has resulted in a response of nearly unanimous
came after KPRC-TV in Houston, Texas reported that outrage, especially from thousands of online role-
many of the user-created rooms were geared toward players and socially active chatters who depended
pedophilia. Many regulars in these rooms used the on the old system. Yahoo! Profiles community direc-
rooms to set up meetings to have sex with children tor Jim Stoneham and community managers Me-
and trade lewd pictures. While it was thought this lissa Daniels and Robyn Tippins respond to only a
move came as a result of several advertisers pulling few of the hostile comments with assurances that
their ads from Yahoo!, a more likely cause was a $10 Yahoo! is “reading and listening to every comment.”
million lawsuit filed by watchdog groups of internet As of October 20th, the only positive action taken
portals on behalf of a 12-year-old victim of molesta- was to apologize for the lack of communication in
tion[10] . this decision. However, the staff continues to refuse
comment on what is being done to rectify the situ-
Yahoo! has since closed down the ation.
site (which is now a redirect to a section of the Ya-
hoo! Messenger page) because the great majority
of chat users accessed it through Messenger. In Au- Web Messenger
gust 2007, it began requiring word verification in
order to use Yahoo! Chat. Officially, this is to guard Similar to MSN Web Messenger and AOL Instant
against spammers and automated bots, which had Messenger’s Aim Express and Quick Buddy, Yahoo!
been a source of frustration for many chatters (This Messenger also has a web applet version that runs
method has proved highly unsuccessful, as many in a browser window to communicate with friends.
rooms now have more bots than users). However, as Recently, it has switched from DHTML to Adobe
this also logs users’ IP addresses, this feature could Flash in coding.
presumably be used to monitor against the type of
behavior that prevailed in the pedophiliaoriented Offline messaging
rooms. The company claims to be still working on a
way to allow users to create their own rooms while Offline messaging, a feature long offered by Yahoo!,
providing safeguards against abuse. allows online users to send messages to their con-
tacts, even if said contacts are not signed in at the
As of November 2008, Yahoo’s inability to control time. The sender’s offline contacts will receive these
chat bots and spammers continues to be a major messages when they next go online.
issue. Over 90% of all chat messages, even in sup-
posedly family oriented chat rooms like genealogy, Games
appear to be originated by automated spam bots
spewing solicitations for adult activities, web cams There are various games and applications available
and pictures. that can be accessed via the conversation window
by clicking the games icon and challenging your
current contact. It requires Java to work.
Interoperability Reasons for Survival
On October 13, 2005, Yahoo! and Microsoft an- Yahoo Messenger according to me is by far the most
nounced plans to introduce interoperability be- feature rich IM software to date. this is one of the
tween their two messengers, creating the second major reasons for its survival.
largest real time communications service userbase
worldwide: 40 percent of all users (AIM currently Second most important reason is that Yahoo took
holds 56 percent). The announcement comes after steps to stop the user attrition which is why the pre-
years of 3rd party interoperability success (most no- vious two examples failed.
tably, Trillian, Pidgin) and criticisms that the major
real time communications services were locking As seen in the previous pages yahoo allowed third
their networks. Microsoft has also had talks with party multi network softwares to access yahoo mes-
AOL in an attempt to introduce further senger data and also made pacts with the two ma-
interoperability, but so far, AOL seems unwilling to jor networks belonging to AOL and Microsoft.
Its constant revisions and latest versions with re-
Interoperability between Yahoo! and Windows Live moved bugs is also a plus point, also because it ap-
Messenger was launched July 12, 2006. This allows, pears in a fresh yet same old feeling with every ver-
for Yahoo! and Windows Live Messenger users to sion.
chat to each other without the need to create an ac-
count on the other service, provided both contacts Also the ads and the sdk have led a lot of revenue
use the latest versions of the clients. For now, it’s im- streams through the messenger making it one of
possible to talk using the voice service among both the major subsidiaries of yahoo inc.

Compatible software
MECA Messenger
Miranda IM
Pidgin (formerly Gaim)
Trillian Pro
Trillian Astra
Windows Live Messenger
References &
1. Design Research : Methods and Perspectives ( Edited by Breda Laurel)
2. Wikipedia (
3. Qualitative Research (book)
4. Irc Homepage and Academic Section.
5. Reid, E. Electropolis: Communication and Community on Internet Relay Chat.
Honours Dissertation, University of Melbourne, 1991.
6. Google Indexes
7. Contextual Inquiries(book)
8. UK Design Council Desk Report
9. Vanderwaal : The term folksonomy

Thanks To:
Mrs. Sheetal Natu for her guidance on the topic. All my classmates who helped me during the data col-
lection and surveys that i undertook . To the HOD, Mr Anand , the server admin and the administrative
staff to give me unrestricted access for unbriddled research work time, and anyone and evryone i have
failed to mention here.
This work is a project under Design Process and Methodology Module of the Symbiosis Institute of
Design. All rights belong to Apurv Ray and the owner of the original source. The matter here may not be
published or re printed or copied in any form digital or analog without the prior permission from Apurv
Ray or the Director, Symbiosis Institute of Design AND the original source author.

You are free to use this matter for educational purposes and uncommercial purpose under the creative
commons agreement 8.1
Apurv Ray
CD 07050221017
Symbiosis Institute Of Design
5th Dec 2008, Pune