Social Software

On the augmentation of human social networking abilities…

I’ve been reading Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework, by D.C. Englebart (Stanford, 1962) and there’s this really interesting paragraph in it that I think is true:

The process of developing this conceptual framework brought out a number of significant realisations: that the intellectual effectiveness exerxised today by a given human has little likelihood of being intelligence limited — that there are dozens of disciplines in engineering, mathematics and the social, life and physical sciences that can contribute improvements to the system of intellect-augmentation means: that any one such improvement can be expected to trigger a chain of coordinating improvementsl; that until every one of these disciplines comes to a standstill and we have exhausted all the improvement possibilities we could glean from it, we can expect to continue to develop improvements in this human-intellect system; that there is no particular reason not to expect gains in personal intellectual effectiveness from a concerted system-oriented approach that compare to those made in personal geographic mobility since horseback and sailboat days.

Anyway this got me thinking about social software and what it’s relationship was to this kind of intellect-augmenting philosophy and I suppose I came to the conclusion that the objectives of social software were to do with the cyborgisation or augmentation of human beings. In particular I thought of that the functions of social software were threefold:

  1. removing the limitations placed on social contact by external factors such as language and geography.
  2. compensating for the overloads that this removal of limitations might generate.
  3. uncovering and improving on the mechanisms that people use in their social interactions with one another – making rational decisions about which are still appropriate and which can be replaced by software or technology.

I have to think about this a bit more fully, but I’d appreciate any thoughts anyone might have…