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Awareness in Social Software

Knowledge Exchange Lab


June 2007 - February 2008


Budget resources of KMRC, German Research Foundation (DFG), National Science Foundation (NSF)


In (our) information society, the issue of Social Software is becoming increasingly important. Social Software comprises all applications which support communication, interaction, and collaboration between individuals. These applications aim at establishing and maintaining social networks that act mainly self-organized. Social Software is characterized by many-to-many communication via the internet (e.g. via weblogs or wikis), and by functioning in the sense of a bottom-up approach, that is, the users follow their own goals.

The project "Awareness in Social Software" focused on network-wikis, also comprising processes like tagging and social bookmarking in the context of network-wikis. The goal of the project was to investigate the research question of how awareness can support self-regulated individual and collaborative knowledge processes and interactions in the context of network-wikis. Awareness in network-wikis and in tagging/social bookmarking means that the individual user of network-wikis is informed regarding features of the other users and of the network-wiki respectively. For example, awareness can be fostered by providing information about wiki contributions, tags, or annotations. While dealing with a wiki contribution, users may be informed about the expertise of all authors or about the relevance estimation of this contribution created by other users. In addition, social bookmarking may be enriched with information about the similarity of own bookmarks and others' bookmarks.

Exemplary research questions of the project:

  • How does awareness influence the reception of wiki contents?
  • Does awareness support the use of network-wikis?
  • How does awareness impact the wiki contributions (text changes, contributions to discussion pages)?

The project was part of a framework "Learning Environments of the Future" that has been funded by the American National Science Foundation (NSF) since 2006. The goal of this framework is to foster a productive, interdisciplinary, and international research community that aims at contributing to the development of Computer-supported Collaborate Learning (CSCL) environments of the future. Famous researchers within the "Distributed Learning and Collaboration" (DLAC) network in the USA, Europe, and Asia belong to this frame. In this context, three international workshops have been organized: 2006 at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China and 2007 at the Learning Sciences Laboratory of the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. To introduce a new framework, a third workshop was conducted at the Knowledge Media Research Center in Tübingen in June 2008, funded by the NSF and the DFG. The workshop topic was Social Software. The goal of the workshop was to initiate concrete research cooperations around the present project topic "Awareness in Social Software".


  • Prof. Dr. Eric Hamilton, Associate Dean and Professor of Education, Pepperdine University, Graduate School of Education and Psychology, Los Angeles, USA
  • Dr. Peng Han, FernUniversität Hagen, Fakultät für Mathematik und Informatik, Hagen
  • Dr. Fan Yang, FernUniversität Hagen, Fakultät für Mathematik und Informatik, Hagen