Affiliated Organization

University of Amsterdam, Netherlands


In this article we seek to understand and clarify the contribution of the multifaceted concept of sociality towards the design of social software systems. Our premise is that it is not software as such that is social, but the free choice of people to engage in social activities. Paraphrasing Wenger (1998): sociality cannot be designed; it can only be designed for. We adopt a soft systems approach to cope with the loosely defined concepts of social software. The paper's main contribution to the field consists of the theoretical work on the sociality based conceptual model, identifying if and to what degree software systems can trigger social behavior, and the design framework that stretches beyond the more traditional functionality-based approaches and focuses on the realms of sociality. We consider this orientation toward sociality, not functionality, a valuable contribution to the field of study.