Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

i-Technology Viewpoint: Is Anything More Social Than Computing?

Computing Is "One of the Most Social Technological Innovations of the Last Thousand Years"

Helge Städtler of the University of Bremen quotes my assertion that "Computing ... is one of the most social technological innovations in the last thousand years" and speculates on whether the existence of Social Software doesn't necessarily imply the co-existence of Social Hardware.

I think that Social Computing, the term that I have sought to coin and introduce rapidly into the i-Technology lexicon, most definitely includes hardware. That, in fact, is its strength: whereas social software might, at best, include Flickr-type destination sites, or networking applications like LinkedIn, the ambits of Social Computing are much, much broader. Skype is social computing at its most powerful; and according to my definition of social computing, Steve Deering, Technical Leader at Cisco Systems and inventor of IP Multicast, is a social computing pioneer par excellence .

The beauty of social computing is that it allows everyone to express their opinion. Ben Franklin said, "The power of the press belongs to those that own one." The Internet allows everyone to own a press.

Since Helge has been so kind as to pick up on my assertion, it might be worth restating my position of August 23, 2006:

Social Computing is about to turn the Web world upside down. Before I explain how and why, let us just lay to rest one other ghost. There will be those who, out of nothing but the sheerest prejudice against computer geeks and geekdom, suggest that "social computing" is a blatant oxymoron, right up there with "benevolent despotism." Have no truck with such bigots. On the contrary, computing - it turns out - is one of the most social technological innovations in the last thousand years.

Think I'm exaggerating? Read on.

Social Computing has been defined as centered on "software that contributes to compelling and effective social interactions" (http://research.microsoft.com/scg/). At IBM Research, where the the premise of the Social Computing Group is that it is possible to design "digital systems that provide a social context for our activities," the group characterizes social computing thus:
"The central hallmark of social computing is that it relies on the notion of social identity: that is, it is not just the data that matters, but who that data 'belongs to', and how the identity of the 'owner' of that data is related to other identities in the system. More generally, social computing systems are likely to contain components that support and represent social constructs such as identity, reputation, trust, accountability, presence, social roles, and ownership."

So what's the big deal; why am claiming that Social Computing is right up there with Quantum Mechanics in terms of its likely impact on our modern world?

The answer to that question has already been hinted at by Forrester, which has published a slim, 24-page report on Social Computing subtitled "How Networks Erode Institutional Power, And What to Do About It ."  And it has been succinctly explicated by Dion Hinchcliffe.

Published in February of this year, the Forrester report notes:

"To thrive in an era of Social Computing, companies must abandon top-down management and communication tactics, weave communities into their products and services, use employees and partners as marketers, and become part of a living fabric of brand loyalists."

Then, linking it directly with "Web 2.0," Forrester nails its colors to the mast by drawing a very telling analogy to help people wrap their minds around the raw disruptiveness of Social Computing:

"Web 2.0 is the building of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s; Social Computing is everything that resulted next (for better or worse): suburban sprawl, energy dependency, efficient commerce, Americans' lust for cheap and easy travel."

Hinchcliffe reiterates this point, noting that one thing is clear, namely that the the technologies of the modern Web are indeed reshaping our society, particularly of the younger generations that spend so much of their time there. 

"The consequences could be dramatic," Hinchcliffe avers, "in the same way that the highway systems fundamentally disrupted the railroad industry."

Anyone wishing to explore further can click through on any of the links under the Further Reading header below. Or, if you are a French speaker, you could do worse than visit here. For those who have no French, try instead joining the group blog for the Social Computing Group at Microsoft Research and/or the Social Computing Alliance - founded in 2004 "to help spur a global conversation about the paradigms and paradoxes of Social Computing."

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Whenever a new technology hits the high points of hype, everyone starts talking about it like it will solve all their business problems. Blockchain is one of those technologies. According to Gartner's latest report on the hype cycle of emerging technologies, blockchain has just passed the peak of their hype cycle curve. If you read the news articles about it, one would think it has taken over the technology world. No disruptive technology is without its challenges and potential impediments t...
If a machine can invent, does this mean the end of the patent system as we know it? The patent system, both in the US and Europe, allows companies to protect their inventions and helps foster innovation. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be set to disrupt the patent system as we know it. This talk will examine how AI may change the patent landscape in the years to come. Furthermore, ways in which companies can best protect their AI related inventions will be examined from both a US and...
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of San...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...