social software reading list

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Some of my colleagues have asked for a summer reading list of books related to social software. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, just a few personal favorites. Feel free to add suggestions for additional items in the comments, or provide any other feedback on the choices.

Update, 5/29
In the comments to this entry is a trackback from Kieran Healy's blog, with some useful commentary on the above list. In writing my comments to his entry, I realized there was at least one more book I wanted to include on my list:

5 TrackBacks

Social Software reading list from Mike's Digital Laboratory on May 29, 2003 1:09 PM

Liz has posted a social software reading list. Just in time for the summer. Thanks Liz! Read More

Weak Ties and all That from Kieran Healy's Weblog on May 29, 2003 2:54 PM

Liz Lawley and Brad DeLong run across Mark Granovetter's classic 1973 article, "The Strength of Weak Ties". It's well worth Read More

Bibliografi om social software from Det perfekta tomrummet on May 30, 2003 4:27 AM

Elizabeth Lane Lawley l�gger ut en litteraturlista �ver b�cker kring social software. I ett till�gg dyker det �ven upp en Read More

This summers reading list... from LinkLog - Stuff to read on June 4, 2003 12:39 PM

Liz Lawley, blogging at mamamusings, recently published a list of books to read covering the topic of social networks. Looks like a good starting point.... Read More

Hos mamamusing finns en litteraturlista f�r sommarl�sning om social software. jag misst�nker att jag f�rmodligen endast kommer lyckas l�sa Small... Read More



Any chance that you could let a copy of that PDF slip my way? :-)


Oh, but that would be _wrong_. ;)

Cool. I'll be referring back to this reading list. I need to look into social software, although my research tends to focus more on storytelling structures than social structures.

It'd be interesting to see how the two structural focuses inter-relate (or not, depending on the situation).

There's a nice review article by Ronald S, Burt (a leading network sociologist): "The social capital of structural holes" pp. 148 - 190 in M.F. Guill�n et al (eds) The New Economic Sociology. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2002.

It addresses many issues of concern to social software studies, and provides many leads to the relevant sociology literature.

A recent BOF Social Software will be held online in a Chinese community, fyi.

Hi, here's another list of readings from my Generals:

Also, the International Network for Social Network Analysis is a good organization and their annual meetings are fun and informative!

Oh, and I forgot to mention this (disclaimer: this is something I've been involved with):
International Networks Archive

It's not directly related, but it is about networks and links to lots of interesting data and has some nifty maps.:)

Thanks, Eszter!


A key reading for me is John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, The social life of information Harvard Business School Press, 2000.

Chapters 4,5 & 6 define the ss genre IMO.

I think the post over on Kieran's blog is on the mark vis-a-vis chronocentricity among the physicists who seem to think they've discovered networks. It's not clear whether you are going for canon or summer reads or something between, nor whether the focus is specifically on network approaches, but I think that the following might be helpful to (re)read, with an eye to social software:

Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life
(Interesting nods here to social emergence!)

Simmel, The Web of Group-Affiliations
(This could have been written yesterday. All gets tied up into the whole Gesellschaft/Gemeinschaft thing, esp. with the extension of Schmalenbach's "Bund.")

Bey, TAZ
(Yes, it is intended as a caprice, but it gets at interesting ideas. Especially the allegory of the dinner party.)

Bush, As We May Think
(Don't think I need to say anything on this one, except that he has had an amazing batting average.)

Levy, Collective Intelligence
(Maddeningly dense in places, but a very intriguing and idea-spurring book--more so than his others, IMHO.)

Holland, Hidden Order

Licklidder & Tayler, Computer as a Communications Device

I'm sure Veblen would strike a sympathetic chord among toolmakers, as would any of the work on symbolic interactionism, and some of Kropotkin�s stuff on the evolution of cooperation.

Oh, and lots others. But, especially considering it is summer, (re)reading "Snow Crash" and "Enders Game," with an eye to social software, is probably the best move :).

If anything, though, it might be more worthwhile *not* to read the same stuff as everyone else. There is some benefit in reading exactly what others are not.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote about Granovetter's stuff in

Friendster, Ryze, LinkedIn, etc. - none of them seem to be working for people. My Brain Trust, while not free, is working. Draw your own conclusions.

Another excellent book is Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

I collected a variety of notes on "The Tipping Point", "Linked: The New Science of Networks", and Power Laws for a handout I gave during a talk here at Carnegie Mellon. Others may find it interesting..

Thanks, I've added them all (well, the ones that weren't already on it) to my wishlist. Should be interesting to see how many of them the local libraries have :)




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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on May 28, 2003 5:25 PM.

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