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Glossary of terms in ICT

Glossary of Terms - ICT

This glossary is reproduced from pages 43-45 of the following report:

Blanchard, M., Metcalf, A., Burns J. 2007. Bridging the Digital Divide: Creating Opportunities for Marginalised Young People to Get Connected. Research Report No. 1. December, conducted by the Inspire Foundation and ORYGEN Youth Health, University of Melbourne.

Ambient Communications – Twitter

Twitter is designed to support micro-interactions; the incessant flow of the thoughts of a friend or colleague that stream across your screen. So-called tweets are short, limited to 140 characters and can be viewed synchronously or asynchronously. Often disjointed, tweets are valuable because of their brevity, their spontaneity, and the context generated by familiarity; either through actually knowing someone or from following their tweets.

Faculty have used the tool to create an ongoing back channel in the classroom, opening a Twitter feed for students to share links, resources, and notes, even as a lecture continues at the front of the room. Conference planners have taken advantage of the tool to offer a place for community dialogue “behind the scenes” as users comment on sessions, share links and resources, or invite others to participate in face-to-face meetings and interactions.

Integration of Twitter with other tools allows sharing of rich media including URLs, pictures, videos, and other items.  Twitter is easy to use and versatile, and its community is constantly finding new uses for it.

Blogs (e.g. LiveJournal.coml)

Blogs are websites that are much like diaries or journals on which the blog owner regularly posts entries. The word "blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning ‘’to maintain or add content to.  Some blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject while others function as personal online diaries. They often combine text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, or online media. Many also have the ability for readers to leave comments. While most blogs are primarily text based, there are emerging trends toward photo-blogging, video-blogging (vlogs), and audio (podcasting). Micro-blogging is also gaining popularity.  This involves blogs with very short posts (often entered from mobile phones).

Digital storytelling

Digital storytelling is a relatively new practice in which individuals tell their own stories (often about life experiences) using ‘moving’ images and sound.  Digital stories are usually short (2-5 minutes) and often consist of a narrated piece of personal writing, a soundtrack, photos, still images, and/or video footage. They are produced using simple software (that often comes standard with most computers) such as Windows Movie Maker or iMovie, and therefore enable individuals who may not have a technical background to produce creative works.  These kinds of software are capable of animating still images and photos to add movement and depth.

Document construction

Doing away with the traditional and often laborious process of peer editing by exchanging multiple drafts, today's electronic documents allow collaborators to work in a synchronous environment on a single document, essentially peering over each other's shoulders as they type. Co-writing a shared document in real time can prove an effective tool for brainstorming and collectively articulating ideas.  Google Docs is one of several online tools that allow individuals to work together on a shared document in real time. Changes can be tracked and attributed, and the document can be shared with a larger group of authors and reviewers as it becomes more polished. Contributors are able to co-author sometimes even simultaneously a digital document, creating opportunities for real-time peer editing and research collaboration.

Enhanced voice communications Skype

Skype is a VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) application that allows users to collaborate over voice channels by calling one another. Skype users download and install a client application, allowing them to use their computers as phones. Skype allows longer and more frequent interactions, eliminating cost constraints and creating opportunities to record conversations and engage in multiuser conversations.

Information Communication Technology (ICT)

ICT is an umbrella term used to describe information technology (IT) (such as computer hardware and software) and telecommunications (including the internet and mobile and landline phones). While the exact definition is subject to debate, some practitioners in the arts sector also use this term to describe creative technologies such as digital photography, music and film making equipment.

Instant messaging (IM e.g. MSN Messenger)

Instant messaging (IM) is a form of real-time communication between two or more people based on typed text (although some applications support communicating through web cams and/or voice over internet). Earlier forms of IM often involved users logging on to web based chat rooms and the use of IRC (internet Relay Chat) software. Although some young people still use these, the use of IM software such as MSN Messenger appears to be most popular. MSN Messenger requires users to register an account (in which they give themselves an alias or ‘handle’) and install free software to run the program. Most IM applications allow the user to set an online status or away message so peers are notified when the user is available, busy, or away from the computer. Instant messages are typically logged in a local message history, thus allowing conversations to be saved for later reference. Additionally, users can often adjust privacy settings and ‘block’ other users from being able to message them.

Media sharing websites (e.g. YouTube.com and Flickr.com)

YouTube is a video sharing website where users can upload, view and share video clips. Similarly, Flickr is a photo sharing website that allows users to share personal photographs.  Both of these websites incorporate ‘tagging’ technology. Tags are essentially descriptive key words (or metadata) which users assign to media. This allows media to be categorised (and browsed) into what’s called ‘folksonomies’.

Online games and MMOGs (massively multiplayer online games)

A Massively Multiplayer Online Game (also called MMOG or simply MMO) is a computer game which is capable of supporting hundreds or thousands of players simultaneously. By necessity, the games are played on the internet, and feature at least one persistent world. Some argue that small playercount games, with 200 and fewer players, are also part of the genre; the persistent world is probably the only "hard" requirement.

Peer to Peer (P2P) downloading software (e.g. Limewire, BitTorrent)

P2P programs such as Limewire and BitTorrent allow users to share and download files. Most commonly these are used to download music and videos, but can also be used to download software. Most P2P software require users to agree to a terms of use at the time of installation that includes acknowledging and adhering to copyright infringement laws.

Podcasting and streaming video services (podcasting)

Podcasts are time and location independent digital files (for example radio or TV shows that are available for download). These can be downloaded on an ad-hoc basis or, users can subscribe to regular podcasts and use free software to download them automatically. Users generally transfer podcasts to a portable device like an Apple iPod or MP3/MP4 player for later playback or listen to/watch them on any laptop or desktop computer with media software such as Windows Media Player.

RSS feeds and information aggregation

RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) are sets of content distribution and republication protocols generally used by news sites and blogs to announce recent additions of content and updates. Users subscribe to the feeds using an RSS aggregator (the latest versions of Windows Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox have inbuilt RSS aggregators). RSS aggregators ‘crawl’ the corresponding sites on a regular basis, displays the feeds and enables users to access related web pages or content.

Social bookmarking, collaborative tagging and tag clouds

Social bookmarking involves categorising resources by informally assigned, user-defined keywords, known as tags. Social bookmarking services enable users to collect and annotate (tag) their favourite web links in an online, open environment, so that they can be shared with others.

Social networking sites (e.g. MySpace.com, Facebook.com, Bebo.com)

As the name suggests, these websites focus on building online social networks for communities of people who share interests and activities. Often social networking websites contain directories of some categories (such as classmates), means to connect with friends (usually with self-description pages), and recommender systems (allowing users to search for others with similar interests). Generally, social networking websites such as MySpace, Facebook and Bebo, allow users to create a profile for themselves.  Users can upload a photo and become "friends" with other users.  In most cases, both users must confirm that they are friends before they are linked. Some social networking sites also have a "favourites" feature that does not need approval from the other user that displays a list of ‘top friends’ on the user’s profile page. Social networks usually have privacy controls that allow the user to choose who can view their profile or contact them. Additionally, users can create or join groups around common interests or affiliations, upload videos, and contribute to discussions in forums.

Virtual worlds (e.g. SecondLife and Habbo Hotel)

These are online simulated environments that allow users to interact via avatars. Avatars are ‘web based representations’ of a user that generally take the form of 2D or 3D graphical characters that users can customise. ‘Virtual worlds’ are often based on the ‘real world’ and generally combine the concept of chat rooms and ‘massively multiplayer online games’ (see below). Some virtual worlds require users to download and install software whereas others can be accessed from within an internet Browser.

Web 2.0

The term ‘web 2.0’ is used to describe the second incarnation of the World Wide Web.  Web 2.0 is also called ‘social Web’ since it is characterized by new applications that enable online activities and user-generated content that was not previously possible. Interestingly, Web 2.0 has been likened to the original purpose of the internet - to share ideas and promote discussion within a scientific community. Web 2.0 has also increased online social interaction through the emergence of wikis, blogs and podcasts.  It has been described as a more human approach to interactivity online as it better supports group interaction and is particularly effective in mobilizing online communities.

Wikis (e.g. www.wikipedia.org)

Wikis are collaborative 'social writing' software that allow users to add content that can later be edited by anybody else. Wikis can be used for sharing knowledge and/or running community projects.

The above definitions were informed by:

Boulos, K & Wheelert, S 2007, 'The emerging Web 2.0 social software: an enabling suite of sociable technologies in health and health care education', Health Information and Libraries Journal, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 2-23.

Giustini, D 2007, ‘How web 2.0 is changing medicine’, BMJ, vol. 333, no. 7582, pp. 1283-1284.

Loams, C., Burke, M., Page, L. 2008. Collaboration Tools. Eli Paper 2. Educause Learning Initiative, pp. 6-8.

(No Author) 2007, 'Web 2.0 Communication Tools', Journal of Visual Communication in Medicine, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 30 – 31.