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The inherent context-awareness properties of pervasive computing and the need for efficient user profiling and location information management quickly made it obvious that context management would become a top priority requirement in telecommunications service platforms. What we now call social networking was "born" around the early-mid `00s, a time when the first context management models and frameworks were being designed for the market. While the world was developing the first context management systems, social networking was growing fast; so fast in fact that no one can afford to ignore it any more. The introduction of smartphones into the global telecommunications market enabled social networking to actually change the way people lived, the way they communicated, and their habits. Information and Communication Technologies research has started taking this new reality very seriously and numerous initiatives have invested in relevant projects, in order to explore all social networking aspects and incorporate its logic in the lowest architectural layers. This article presents a short historical review of the evolution of various aspects of context management in pervasive computing systems, it revisits the earlier models, in order to put community context where it belongs, it presents a context management architecture that is suitable for pervasive services combined with social networking and explores its added value for users all over the world.
Date of Publication: June 2012